Martial artist garners lifetime achievement award

Grace Wu

Last month, Grace (Xiaogao) Wu-Monnat ’91 garnered lifetime achievement accolades at the 2024 Tiger Claw Elite competition in San Jose, California. A renowned Master, teacher and judge of professional Chinese martial arts competitions worldwide, Wu-Monnat earned the award for her career as an elite martial artist and spirited promoter of wude (martial ethics).

“Studying Chinese martial arts has brought physical health, mental strength, joy and better character to me,” she says. “Wherever I am, it is always my honor to share this treasure of Chinese culture with the world.”

The Tiger Claw Elite competition is the largest Kung Fu and Tai Chi tournament on the West Coast and one of the most important competitive arenas in the United States. Wu-Monnat has judged the competition for the past 18 years, critiquing Kung Fu, Modern Wushu, Tai Chi and other styles and disciplines. The Life Achievement Award was presented by event organizers to recognize her as an international competitor, judge and as a Master instructor in her own school, Wichita’s Grace Wu Kung Fu School, where, since 1986, she has taught all forms of Kung Fu, Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Bagua to both children and adults.

Her family lineage of martial arts prowess goes back generations and includes multiple Grandmasters. While growing up in China, she began training under her mother, Professor Wang Ju-rong, a New China’s first generation Wushu Grandmaster; her father, Dr. Wu Cheng-de, a prominent Wushu Master and orthopedic doctor; and her grandfather, Grandmaster Wang Zi-ping, at age 3. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education with an emphasis on Chinese martial arts from Shanghai Teachers University. After emigrating to the United States, she set to work establishing her school in Wichita and completing a master’s degree in physical education from Wichita State, which she did in 1991. Her husband, Dan Monnat, also attended WSU.

Best known as a martial artist, Wu-Monnat also serves as office manager for the Wichita-based law firm of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, which her husband, a nationally known criminal defense attorney, co-founded in 1985. It was through the law firm that the couple began to share the philosophy of Chinese martial arts beyond the world of sports by incorporating the concepts of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” into the firm’s courtroom defense strategy.

The two then took the concept a step further and developed “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Kung Fu Strategies for Trial,” a continuing legal education program offered through the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and other organizations. The seminar is often featured at national and regional legal conferences.

In addition to her most recent honor, Wu-Monnat was inducted into the Amateur Athletic Union’s Chinese Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2008.

WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement News Releases

News Releases Contacts

Welcome to our news feed. Here you’ll find the latest publications from the WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement. For additional information and any media questions, please reach out to our media relations team.

Director of Communications – Alumni
Connie Kachel White | | 316-978-3835

Director of Communications – Foundation
Emily Mullins | | 316-978-3407