For many students, a language can be hard to adjust to, but on Wednesday, Nov. 9, language teacher and Keene High School staff member Nan Hyde brought a new side to the Chinese culture: Kung Fu Martial Arts.

Keene High School language arts teacher Hyde introduced another idea of giving students an opportunity to not only learn a language, but also understand the country’s culture.

Ms. Hyde contacted the Keene High School administration and together they designed a new way to introduce students the culture side of Chinese lifestyles.

Hyde made that idea possible when Sean Sodders,  a KSC student who is an assistant martial arts instructor from the Golden Phoenix School of Chinese Martial Arts, attended Hyde’s freshmen class to give a lesson.

Travis Thoutte/ Equinox Staff

Travis Thoutte/ Equinox Staff

Sodders gave the students insight and leverage on the understanding of the Chinese culture of Kung Fu, as well as self-defense.

Sodders started off the class with a simple hello, both in English and Chinese.

Sodders instructed the class on techniques and moves to use when put in violent altercations that would require self-defense.

Sodders demonstrated a proper way to defend all types of moves an opponent may use such as a kick, punch and techniques for if an opponent were to grab from behind.

During the lesson, Sodders had students demonstrate opponent attacks with one another, but stressed safe practice so no students would be injured during the stunts.

During the self-defense lesson, students were asked at different times about what they can take from the lesson and how it can be attributed to their own lives.

A high school freshmen said, “The techniques might be difficult to learn at first, but it is something I can always have as a back-up when put in a situation where violence may occur.”

She continued, “As a young adolescent, it’s something I can have to use if approached by someone or simply just a trait to have when going out with friends alone and no adults present.”

When another student was asked about the Kung Fu lesson and how it attributes to the chinese language, a student replied with, “This year, learning the Chinese language has been hard for me, but after today’s hands-on lesson, I was able to learn about the Chinese culture in a different way without being in the class with Ms. Hyde. I think it was really cool to learn Kung Fu moves and still have this count as class time.”

Hyde said, “The school and I have discussed different ways to teach the kids not only language, but culture. I got the idea of new ways to expanding the program at Keene High to show kids the Kung Fu martial arts relation to the Chinese culture. “

Hyde mentioned, “This is a learning experience, but it can also be fun while learning these topics such as Kung Fu. It was the first time my class and Keene High School has had a guest teach Kung Fu to a class to display culture. I believe it was a success and something I can see happening again in the near future.”

During another interview, Sodders mentioned his journey through the Kung Fu martial arts by saying, “I got into Kung Fu in the seventh grade when my mom put out the idea to try it. With time, the hobby grew on me, as my brother and myself got into our young adolescent years, now, adult years.” He continued by saying, “We have been in Kung Fu for a combined 12 years.”

Sodders referred back to the English term of Kung Fu, which means gaining through hard work.

When asked what Sodders planned on for the outcome of the lesson he replied, “ I stress the factor of people only get back what the people put in. The hard work a person puts in, it progresses to being a better person and also better at the task that person is doing.” Sodders  described himself as having self-confidence and also receives mentor guidance from Master Steve Frankel who has taught Sodders and his brother Vinny.

Sodders plans on many more sessions with Keene High School, but also extends a welcoming and encouraging hand to joining the Golden Phoenix School of Chinese Martial Arts.

If anyone has interest in signing up and joining the Golden Phoenix School of Chinese Martial Arts, you can check out their page on Facebook or visit the location in North Walpole, New Hampshire, where you can learn more about the programs offered and sign up for martial arts programs such as Wing Chun, Tai Chi and Kung Fu.

Travis Thuotte can be contacted at

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