Helping students find themselves through Kung Fu

By Angela Daidone |

In the words of the composed yet comedic Sifu Jasper Green, Kung Fu and boxing instructor at Flagler College, “anyone can fight” and that’s why his class offers the opportunity to learn more than just self-defense.

“It isn’t about being in the ring fighting; it’s about being a better person,” Green said.

Green, who goes by Sifu, which translates to teacher in Chinese, has been a Martial Arts instructor for 32 years. His interest in martial arts began around the age of 15.

“When I was young, I played basketball with the neighborhood kids, and if you weren’t good you got picked last,” Green said, “and I was tired of being picked last.”

Starting from the ground up, learning something he knew nothing about, Green first learned karate. At the time, Kung Fu wasn’t offered. By 23, he opened his own studio, Aun Loon Gwan, and has since owned his Kung Fu and Tai-Chi Institute for 28 years.

Currently, Green teaches at Flagler College Monday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30p.m.

“I’ve taught over 5,000 kids and it keeps me young,” Green said with a chuckle. “They rejuvenate me.”

Despite teaching for many years, Green has a fond recollection of a majority of the students he has taught. He wants all of his students to feel like they belong to a family.

A portion of the class entails sitting in a circle to discuss everyday life situations. The goal is to figure out techniques beneficial for life and what Green can do to help improve overall well-being.

Green acknowledges that what students like most is when he does the “flashy stuff,” which refers to the animal techniques he teaches. Some animal techniques include the dragon, tiger, crane, snake and preying mantis.

“When they see the dance stuff, they’re excited and it excites me that they want to learn more,” Green said.

The class starts off with 15 minutes of exercise while music plays in the background. Green mainly plays old-school funk. “James Brown is my hero,” he said.

Following the energizing warm-up, students demonstrate what was taught the previous week. After review, Green teaches new techniques.

He encourages more students to attend his class and promises they will grow from the experience.

“You get an exercise, a sport, a self-defense, and something to take with you the rest of your life,” Green said. “You inherit a new life, a new family.”

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