Say "No" to Gold from an American - A Reflection on the Spirit of Integrity

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The 2014 Beijing International Kung Fu Championship held from July 25-30, 2014 attracted more than 10,000 competitors from over 60 countries in the five day competition. During this large championship, Joshua Joseph of Shaolin Institute represented US and with his dedication and persistence, was awarded a silver medal.

US vs China

US vs China Final

I want to be like my Kung Fu senior brother Cung Le one day to be a true professional champion.

The Beijing International Kung Fu Championship attracted over 60 countries with 300 teams to participate in the Kung Fu games with over 100 divisions. Sanshou or Sanda is the toughest division to compete as it comprises some of the best fighters from all over the world. In Joshua’s division alone China presented three fighters to secure the gold medal spot in that very popular division.

All Sanshou (Sanda) divisions started on the night of July 25th. It was a brutal fighting elimination process. Every fighter wished to continue and advance to the quarterly finals in honor of his/her country. Yet despite their persistence and passion, half of the fighters were eliminated.

First round of fights are over. The quarter-finals are about to begin. Of the 60 plus participating nations in that division, only a few remain among them Spain, Italy, Azerbaijan, China, Belarus, and Russia. The Russian fighter appears poised, confident, and eager to get into the ring. This is the fighter that was viewed and even expected to take home the gold medal of the competition. The excitement of the crowd begins to grow as there is news of a new fighter advanced in the 75 kg division, an amateur fighter from the United States who is getting ready to fight the Russian favorite.

Like a Cold War era film, all attention falls onto the ring as the two fighters step in to face each other. The lone representative of the United States is 20 year old Joshua Joseph of the Shaolin Institute, Atlanta campus and this was his first real international competition in China where martial arts, especially Kung Fu was born. In a surprising twist, Joshua was able to avoid the wrestling drop-tactics of the Russian fighter winning the fight with an inescapable side kick and heavy hands.

The next two fighters from Spain and Italy bowed out of the competition, leaving Joshua to fight in the finals against China. Despite giving an impressive performance, Joshua lost in points to the highly competitive Chinese fighter thus securing the silver medal in his first major international competition.

In a post fighting interview stated Joshua: “I need to build confidence to fight with people who trained in the birthplace of Kung Fu. On the other hand, he was a very skillful fighter. I also recognized certain experience and abilities from him that I did not have.” "I am young," he continued, "I will strive to train harder and smarter with more dynamics. I want to be like my Kung Fu senior brother Cung Le one day to be a true professional champion."

Joshua’s trainer and mentor, Shi DeRu (known as ‘Shifu’ in his institute and the godfather of Sanshou in the US) is a descendant of the Shaolin Temple in China. “Overall, Joshua Joseph did exceptionally well. With his persistence and determination, he could be the next true international champion contender even in China fighting against Chinese professionals,” Shifu said.

However, this story is not completed. Since Shifu Shi DeRu is a well-known Grand Master in China, and familiar with martial arts programs in the US, the Chinese Kungfu Committee sought to curry favor by offering to give Josh the gold medal instead of the silver as a way of acknowledging the defeat of the Russian fighter who was viewed as the strongest fighter in the tournament, and thereby honoring the international spirit of the games.

Shifu immediately rejected the offer stating, “Joshua defeated the Russian fighter who was regarded as one of the best fighters in the conference. China had three fighters in the conference in order to secure the gold. All three Chinese fighters advanced along with Joshua who was the sole representative for the U.S. Joshua Joseph lost to the most advanced Chinese fighter. That is a fact.”

“As an athlete one must have integrity, honor, and, character which are more important than a champion title. Gold means nothing if it was not truly earned. That is how the Shaolin Institute has been teaching students since the beginning. That is how we bring out the best of ourselves. If we lose that, we lose everything we stand for.”

The authors are Veronica Armendariz and Richard Dou, two Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi martial arts students. They can be reached at 770 286-9808 or go to

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Susan Chan

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