Cool Classes: Kung Fu, Samurais, and Warlords

By: Daniel Johnson, Staff Reporter | Photo By: Scott M. Roberts, Photojournalist

“Cool Classes” is a feature which focuses on an interesting program or class at CNM. To nominate a class or program, send an email to jyllian­

Part-time History Instructor Stephen Vann said this class will be only one of a handfull of Asian history classes taught in the nation.Students will have the opportunity to learn about the history of China, Japan and Korea from the begin­ning of recorded history to A.D. 1600, said part-time History Instructor Stephen Vann.

CRN 2196, East Asia to 1600, will be offered in the spring term and will educate students in the culture and lifestyle of histori­cal Asia. It will also give CNM the honor of being one of a handful of higher educational facilities that offers courses on Asian his­tory, he said.

“It is mostly a lecture course since it is a history class, but we will be study­ing plays, doing research projects and learning all kinds of cool stuff from East Asia,” he said.

The class is an opportunity to connect East Asia to students who are interested in learning the history of other parts of the world, said Vann.

Topics covered will include ancient Chinese dynasties, monks and samurais and how they all have affected the modern-day view of Japan, he said.

The Japanese play “Chushingura,” which tells the story of 47 samurai who avenge the murder of their master, will also be studied, he said.

“This play is so famous for the hero status of the samurai that a shrine was built in their honor and a shrine was also built for the bad guy of the story, which people will literally walk up to and pee on to this day,” said Vann.

Various weapons will be brought into the classroom for stu­dents to examine and discuss, he said.

Some of the weap­ons that will be pre­sented are the Bokken – a wooden practice sword, the Katana, which is one of five swords used by the samurai, the Tonfa, which is a tool turned into a weapon, the Hook Swords, mainly used in sports and the Tetsubo, also called the iron stick, he said.

“The Tetsubo is a form of a Japanese unicorn because they are rarely found in archeological digs but they are referenced in paintings and sto­ries that are told about defeating demons,” said Vann.

While living and working in Asia for three years it was easy to see that people were worried about the relationship between the U.S. and China, but most of Asia actu­ally loves the U.S. and informing people of that is one of the goals of this class, he said.

Relieving the fear of foreign cultures is a goal of all history classes, but for this class, Chinese culture is especially important, he said.

Asia is a whole different world and it is important for Americans to realize that it is an awesome world, he said.

“I feel that it is important for indi­viduals to understand each other and a great way to do that is to learn someone’s his­tory and understand it,” said Vann.

Making CNM a more multi-cultural place and more inclu­sive is something that this class can help to accomplish, he said.

CNM is the largest institution in the state that does not offer an Asian history program, he said.

“I hope to have a full class in the spring term so I can not only educate, but also start to make a change here at CNM,” said Vann.

Leave a Reply