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The How and the Why

For those who may have landed here, and either don’t know the story, or only know parts of it, I’ll fill in some of the gaps.

In November of 2003, I was introduced to the UO Wushu Team. And by, “introduced,” I mean, “verbally dragged by a good friend,” heh. (thanks, Janet ;)) UO Wushu was a small club back then, and I had no idea what wushu even was at the time, but it wound up being more important to my life than I ever expected.

Speaking of which, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Wushu. The short version I tell: Wushu is basically Kung Fu with cool flippy acrobatic moves incorporated into it. Jet Li’s background is in wushu, it’s cool to watch, look it up on YouTube.

After practicing for about 2 1/2 years, I found myself at the helm of the UO Wushu Team as the most experienced person who hadn’t graduated and left town. I coached there for about a year, before moving to Portland in May of 2007. I never really saw myself as a teacher, especially with so little experience in the sport, but I really grew to love it, and I’m ridiculously proud of every kid that comes out of UO Wushu with strong basics and even stronger tenacity. Yeah, we’re awesome. 😉

Since then, I’ve been at the US Wushu Center, still keeping up with my 3-days-a-week practice schedule. I’ve competed in close to a dozen tournaments from 2004 onward, and even snagged the occasional medal. I’ve also lost about 60 pounds since I began my training 5 1/2 years ago, and at those rare moments when I thought I wanted to quit, I realized that I didn’t want a life without wushu in it. It’s pretty clear to me by now that I’ll be practicing wushu for as long as my body will let me.

Whenever I’ve met and talked with wushu practitioners, one of the hot topics was always training in China. It’s an environment that’s much, much different from ours–where we view wushu as something that’s just for fun, they take it seriously, and train people from a very young age. They know the sport inside and out, and train harder, faster, and smarter than anything I’ve ever experienced.

With that in mind, it’s been my goal for several years to go there and train with the masters, before I turn 30. In this sport, Chinese athletes are looking at retirement by the time they hit 25 (!), so I’m over-the-hill by those standards. So, upon realizing that A) I turn 29 this year, and B) a group from my current wushu school would be going to China, I pretty much *had* to say yes to this trip.

So, on Monday, I’ll be flying out of Portland to train in China, see the sights, and exercise my photographic muscles by taking all the photos I can muster, while I’m there. I have never traveled anywhere outside of the North American continent, save a few trips to see my mom’s family in Taiwan, at the tender age of 0-2, so I have very little idea what to expect. But, I’ll share as best I can. 🙂

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