NOTE: No copyright infringement intended. Also, sorry about the formatting problems.
Masters of Kung Fu
The Master Communicator
Dr. U Maung Gyi teaches college because that's what he knows how
to do; he teaches martial arts because that's what he wants
BY MARTY KUFUS
The professor glances out the classroom window at the warm, spring
sunshine bathing the Ohio University campus in Athens. After
It can be a complex task just to seat diplomatic delegations, Dr. U Maung Gyi, Ph.D., explains to nearly 50 students.
"It took a year for the United States and North Vietnam to agree on the shape and size of the table at the Paris peace talks," he says. Much of the dispute was over the recognition of South Vietnamese and Viet Cong representatives.
On the other hand, Gyi continues, setting up a diplomatic meeting room can be relatively easy if the ViPs desire cooperations in a 1986 at meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, between President Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. They sat at a simple, square table, Gyi explains, and placed the interpreters on the sides "as significant partners in the negotiation process."
Thirty years ago, Gyi himself spoke nine languages (including Hebrew, Japanese, Russian and Vietnamese) and was considering training to become a simultaneous interpreter in diplomatic affairs. He chose teaching instead. His fields: international communication and the martial art of bando.
Teacher, linguist, world traveler, war veteran, boxing coach, founder of the American Bando Association-Dr. Gyi is one of those remarkable people who seems to have been everywhere and done just about everything.
Having been graduated from the University of Rangoon, Burma, where he
studied international affairs and law, Gyi completed graduate
Gyi is a faculty member in the College of Communication. His wife, Pat, whom he met in Washington, D.C., is an administrator in
[ pic] Dr. Gyi, chief Instructor of the American Bando Association, with a ceremonial stick.]
OU's College of Osteopathic
Medicine. They have two daughters: one, an OU journalism graduate,
is married and living in California; the other
Dr. Gyi is best known on campus for his formidable "Cross Cultural Communication" course in the School of Interpersonal Communication. He also teaches "Communication and the Campaign," whose students are required to actually work on local and state political campaigns. Drawing on his military experiences, Gyi even has taught "Cryptology and Military Communication Systems" to military-science students. He has received the university's Outstanding Professor Award, and students once voted him University Professor, a prestigious award.
But that's just the academic side of the house for this very busy man, whom a campus film identifies as the faculty member who "introduced self-defense" to Ohio University.
During an initiation ceremony held in 1968 at Ohio University, Gyi and
his senior bando students formally organized the nonprofit
A year earlier, Gyi had created a bando club and a boxing team for OU students and took on the duties of chief instructor of each. (He since has given instructional duties to people he trained.) Moreover, he has served as faculty adviser to various campus martial arts clubs, including tae kwon do and kung-fu. Dr. Gyi also has been involved with local social issues: he was an early proponent of a program to aid battered women, and he has served as a peer counselor for Athens-area Vietnam veterans suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder.
Today, the ABA has 25-to-30 training groups; its approximately 2,000 practitioners live mostly in the eastern third of the United States. Bando, pronounced BUN-DO, means "way of discipline." American practitioners of this ancient Burmese martial system travel to Athens for seminars and training camps conducted by Gyi, whose ofticial title is chief instructor.
ABA training comprises several subsystems, including kick boxing. Gyi, a
veteran of numerous full-contact matches, notes with pride that
Bando practitioners also train with wooden sticks of various sizes, and with bladed weapons such as the Burmese dha (long sword) and the Gurkha kukri (short sword). Gyi also has taught nine bando animal systems to his American students, but he modestly considers himself "personally good" in only one.
"I have studied cobra for more than 45 years," Gyi says. "Even though I am in my senior-citizen age, I still practice ten-to-15 minutes a day: breathing, explosive locking, striking." These techniques mimic a deadly yet beautiful creature Gyi encountered innumerable times - including one near fatal bite - in Asian jungles.
Dr. Gyiwas born and raised near historic Mandalay, Burma. All his male relatives had served in the British army. But Gyi's youthful instead, was to attend medical school in England and become a doctor. His father, U Ba Than Gyi, a military officer and bando master, encouraged him to pursue an education. Young Gyi attended a prestigious school in Darjeeling, India, where he also studied English. But world events soon dashed his dream of being a physician.
During World War II, as the seemingly invincible Japanese army rolled
across Asia, a teenaged Gyi served as a field medical orderly and
In post-war Burma, U Ba Than Gyi was instrumental in the creation of the National Bando Association. Its goal was to preserve and promote that indigenous martial system. He also instructed his son, who had trained in bando since childhood, to broaden his knowledge by studying the fighting arts of other Asian countries as his military assignments allowed.
After the Korean War, Gyi even found time to represent Burma as a
lightweight boxer in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. He won
Gyi eventually left British military service. In 1960 he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a government translator. That same year, he began teaching bando at the American University.
"I was the carrier of my father's message; it was my mission" he says. "Me early sixties, from '62 to '65-that was the period of the founders of the martial arts and systems in America," Gyi recalls. "I was a contemporary of men like Robert Trias (founder of the United States Karate Association); Ki Whang Kim (pioneer of tae kwon do in America), Peter Urban (American goju pioneer), Ed Parker (American kenpo pioneer), Bruce Lee (creator of jeet kune do), Tsutomu Ohshima (pioneer of shotokan in America) and Don Nagle (American isshinryu pioneer)."
Although it was Gyi's goal to build a national, non-commercial bando association, he also was determined to foster good relations with other organizations.
"I refereed at tac kwon do, issbinryu, kenpo and kung-fu tournaments," he says. He also served as one of the first officers of the Professional Karate Association. In 1968 he chaired a national rules committee whose work made possible the International Convention of Martial Arts in New York City.
Gyi's skill and impartiality as a referee were widely respected. In the early seventies he served as chief referee for national tournament bouts featuring such stars as Joe Lewis, Skipper Mullins, Chuck Norris and Mike Stone.
In May, 1975, Gyi refereed the "Battle of Atlanta's historic, full contact karate match between Joe Corley and Bill Wallace. A few months later, Gyi refereed a full-contact match between Jeff Smith and Karriem AHah that was the preliminary card to the Muhammad Ali and Joe Fraziers championship boxing bout.
Even now, Dr. Gyi cannot stay out of the ring. He continues to
referee amateur boxing matches during "Friday Night at the
There are some similarities in the teaching of college students and bando practitioners.
"Both academics and martial system follow a curriculum," Gyi
says. And each requires an instructor to possess not only
"At the scholarly level," Gyi says, "we don't have immediate feedback as to the effectiveness of teaching; it might be several months or years. But in martial systems, you can see the effect in a few days or months.
"In academics," he continues, warming to the subject, "we judge performance according to intellect and critical thinking. In martial systems, especially when you're working on forms, it is rote memory and 'muscle memory.'
"Is there critical thinking in martial systems? Yes, particularly in freestyle sparring, in which a person must bring out combinations of techniques never used before in forms training," Gyi says.
He laments what he sees as a problem today in the area of higher education.
"Sadly to say, in our academic environment, self-discipline is
decreasing," Gyi says. "But in martial systems, people
come to get more
Which does he prefer. teaching communication or bando?
The professor pauses for a moment, weighing his response. "I
teach at the university level as my livelihood," he replies.
| What's New? |
Wing Chun Kuen |
Filipino Martial Arts |
Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do |
Muay Thai |
| Silat |
| Brazilian Jiujitsu | Catch-as-Catch-Can Wrestling | Wrestling | Sambo |
| Boxing | Kicking | Chinese Martial Arts | Japanese Martial Arts | Korean Martial Arts | Other Martial Arts | Weapons |
| Unofficial Underground forum archives | Drills | Techniques | Reviews | Articles | Psychology | Philosophy | Submissions |
| Links | Photo Gallery | View My Guestbook | Sign My Guestbook | FAQ | About Me | Email me: email@example.com |