February Alumni Spotlight!

Brandon (Jimmy) Fleck!

[Photo retrieved from Facebook]

How did you find out about UO Wushu?

I found out about UO Wushu and Brandon Sugiyama back in high school from my friend Kats.

How long were you involved with the club?

I was involved off and on for five years.

What were the most difficult and most rewarding factors of being on team?

The time commitment was difficult, particularly when the club grew larger, but pulling off something successful with your friends was very gratifying.

Did you specialize in something?

Yeah, but it was a part of the team instead of a weapon or style. I focused on group cohesion. We hadn’t ever seen a team that large before (50 regular members), and it was unstable. I wanted to see if I could help hold everyone together.

How did you balance all your activities during college?

I didn’t (I’m not a great role model). I had always been good at school, but not at socializing. When I found myself surrounded by so many good friends, but not enough time to balance work, school, and wushu, so I prioritized my friends.

Can you describe the mental and physical progression you experienced from your first competition to your last competition?

Well, at some point Nathan and I started lifting together, and that got me much stronger. Mentally, the stress dropped off as I grew more comfortable being around and talking to people.

How did the Wushu community impact your life?

The impact was huge. Most of the people I met through wushu I still consider family.

How has Wushu impacted your life?

It kept me active during late high school and through college. It was always fun to jump around, and I learned how important it was to injury-proof your body.

Where are you now in life?

This year I bought a house in Beaverton and my girlfriend Madison moved in with me (both firsts for me). I have been traveling internationally once a year for the past couple years, and professionally I do systems analytics and SQL for IBM. My goal this year is to become a fiduciary and pay off my student loans.

Do you still practice?

I don’t practice wushu anymore. But I do still use feiyus as my workout shoes :p

Do you have any advice for current team members?

Pushing yourself to try something new or challenging will provide perspective, and listening to other people provides understanding. Mix in a bunch of random education, shake well, and presto! New adults!

Do you have any advice for the general public?

It might be worthwhile to invest in parking lots.

January Alumni Spotlight!

15401431_10157774644550461_1408905632_nRay Tsunoda!

[Picture submitted by Ray Tsunoda]

How did you find out about UO Wushu?

I stumbled onto a class on my first visit to campus before I decided to enroll. I had no idea that Universities had Wushu clubs.

How long were you involved with the club?

I was a member between 2008-10 and coached with Nathan Andrus-Hughes in 2010-12. Four years of training and partying really hard.

What were the most difficult and most rewarding factors of being on team?

Everything is difficult. The conditioning, flexibility, choreography, and competition scoring. Wushu is the most technically complicated thing I’ve done in my life. I’ve seen many physically gifted individuals hit walls without good coaches.

Why do it? Nothing ninjas you like Wushu. It feels very cool when you nail a move, and without the team doing Wushu wouldn’t have felt as awesome. It’s like Soul Cycle only you’re actually doing something cool.

What were the most difficult and most rewarding factors of being captain?

Difficult: Planning training progression. Picking the right basics, forms, and intensity is mostly trial and error because you can’t control everyone’s learning and physical capacity. Future captains, don’t worry about catering to everyone! Just make a format that you are confident with and enjoy teaching, or you’ll drive yourself nuts.

Rewarding: You see what people want and what they’re willing to put in. When someone you taught personally competes and does well you never forget it.

How did you balance all your activities during college?

I didn’t. Life pro-tip, don’t go in without perspective. Be specific with how much time you will put into Wushu and talk to someone who knows more about how you should be training with the time you’ve been given.

Did you specialize in something?

Not really, I’ve done a little bit of everything other than Taichi.

Can you describe the mental and physical progression you experienced from your first competition to your last competition?

I got more aggressive and stronger, but not necessarily better. Get a mentor! Self-coaching is a myth!

How did the Wushu community impact your life?

I was introverted prior to Wushu at UO. You won’t find a sport where people make friends so quickly; it’s a small world and we’re in it together.

How has Wushu impacted your life?

It made me more outgoing, attentive to the needs of others, and super-ripped.

Where are you now in life?

I’m a designer living in San Jose, at a house full of close friends that all love Wushu. We work, train, and party.

Do you still practice?

See you at CMAT, young-bl****.

Do you have any advice for current team members?

Socialize with other clubs! That’s the best way for the club to keep growing.

Seek mentorship. Don’t worry about bugging people, worry about sucking and getting injured. Set expectations with yourself and your team coach. Be clear with what you want for the semester, don’t let the practice schedule be your only guide.

Do you have any advice for the general public?

Nothing ninjas you like Wushu. It’s unlike any sport you’ve ever done and is the key to unlocking your inner-Power Ranger. Check out my team’s Instagram @rogue1wushu, watch some world wushu competitions on YouTube, then go train with UO Wushu for one month. Also, don’t skip leg day, every day is leg day 😉

December Alumni Spotlight!

alexAlex Guangyuan Liang!

[Photo retrieved from Facebook]

How did you find out about UO Wushu?

Ferena Kagata, friend brought me and some friends in. 

How long were you involved with the club?

Involved about 2 years afterwards it was on and off.

What were the most difficult and most rewarding factors of being on team?

The most difficult thing at the time was competition and trying to live up to the expectations set by the previous generation. But that was also what I enjoyed more, competing hard.  

Did you specialize in something?

I started learning spear and broadsword. Both were very fun.

Can you describe the mental and physical progression you experienced from your first competition to your last competition?

I only participated in 1 competition. I felt more agile, stronger and confident after a year.

How did the Wushu community impact your life?

 The wushu community at uo was great. A lot of fun and supportive people. I appreciate wushu as it has helped me physically and mentally. But I feel like getting to know the team has influenced me more.

Where are you now in life?

Currently I am working for a year after my Bachelor’s. I am applying to some graduate schools. Also learning about personal finance and programming.

Do you still practice?

I don’t practice any sport anymore. No time or energy.

Do you have any advice for current team members?

Keep up the good work! True passion and dedication is contagious.

Do you have any advice for the general public?

Try and find a club or other extra curricular activity. It will enhance your college experience.

November Alumni Spotlight!

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Katsumi Manabe!

[Photo retrieved from Facebook]

How did you find out about UO Wushu?

Online while reading about some of the older us superstars of the art in highschool.  Both Brandon sugiyama and Phillip dang were alumni, was a little disappointed to realize I’d be joining the year after Phil graduated though.

How long were you involved with the club?

Eh let’s just say I failed to graduate in four years.  I tore my Achilles at practice which severely set back graduation and training.

How did you balance all your activities during college?

At first I didn’t.  Then I dropped the activities I didn’t care about and stopped procrastinating.  Don’t procrastinate, Nike that sh**.

Did you specialize in something?

Jian was my favorite form.

What were the most difficult and most rewarding factors of being captain?

The most difficult was balancing the focus and intensity of practice.  I wanted to share the really physically and mentally intense and rewarding practices previous captains had with me but without excluding people whom were shy, new, uncoordinated, or just really sh** at showing up consistently because they couldn’t balance school, Wushu, and whatever else they did.

The most rewarding was being there for the excitement every time someone did something they previously thought was out of reach.

Can you describe the mental and physical progression you experienced from your first competition to your last competition?

I got stronger over time but never got comfortable with it.  I always psyched myself out and felt like I could have done better.  Honestly I didn’t care too much to compete myself, I just wanted to do Wushu.

How did the Wushu community impact your life?

The wushu community was my life.  I met some of my closest friends and the greatest girl in the world there.   I’ve actually done wushu with all of my current roommates as well.

How has Wushu impacted your life?

I may not train regularly anymore but if I space out at a grocery store I’ll still find myself going through forms in my head and waving my hands about like a crazy person.

Where are you now in life?

I was the manager of a red Robin but quit a few days ago, I took part in the opening of a new location that was ranked number one in the company out of more than 500 restaurants when we opened.  We were ranked I think fifth when I left.  For now I’m taking some time to myself and looking for a different direction.

Do you still practice?

No, but I miss it.

Do you have any advice for current team members?

If you want to do anything, stop procrastinating or making excuses and don’t let your cup be too full.

October Alumni Spotlight!

wingston

Wing Ng!

[Photo taken by Kevin Lai]

How did you find out about UO Wushu?

I found out about UO Wushu by checking out the ASUO list of groups. I was looking to try martial arts and saw Wushu and figured I could try it out. Finding the actual practice room was harder though.

How long were you involved with the club?

I was a part of UO Wushu for 4 years – and hope to help out this year as well. My first year I participated as a general member. My second year I was fortunate to help out the team as the President and my last years I was able to coach the team.

What were the most difficult and most rewarding factors of being captain?

The most difficult part for me was to balance coaching while also trying to improve my own Wushu. While teaching does help improve your own Wushu there is no substitute for practice. The most rewarding part will always be watching your teammates improve.

How did you balance all your activities during college?

I didn’t! A lot of lost sleep…but what I think would help others is to plan your schedule and devote time for everything you do. Sleeping, eating, studying, practicing, going to class, and relaxing. I found that having a plan helped me devote my energy to what I was currently doing.

Did you specialize in something?

No. I dabbled in a few things but now am trying to learn something special for the team.

Can you describe the mental and physical progression you experienced from your first competition to your last competition?

Everyone, in my opinion, goes on autopilot their first competition. They are too nervous to think about intent and the flavor. What I learned and still work on is something that Sifu Peter Dang told us. When we are doing our competition form we need to think for each movement, “Now I will put X amount of force into this outside jump” or “I will breathe through this stance before I transition”. While relying on muscle memory is a good way to learn a form it will pale in comparison to a form that has intention.

How did the Wushu community impact your life?

I have a great appreciation of our alumni and the teammates I had during my time. Some of them have become some of the greatest friends I have. Meeting people at different schools and teams it is clear to me that people within the community are similar regardless where you go.

How has Wushu impacted your life?

Wushu has given me a community that I can rely on for the rest of my life – again some of my greatest friends are from UO Wushu. The personal influence of Wushu has been that it has made me increasingly aware of my own physicality and given me a greater desire to improve myself.

Where are you now in life?

Currently working for the University of Oregon Admissions Office. After my travel season I hope to practice more, work out more, and hopefully start doing some tai chi. As for the future – unsure but most likely away from the state.

Do you still practice?

For a little in my hotel rooms…I plan to practice occasionally but I really want to start understanding internal martial arts and hope that will also help my taolu.

Do you have any advice for current team members?

It’s all in the hips. Also if you are injured you can’t practice as well so know your limits and communicate with your coaches as to what you are feeling. While Wushu is amazing you are students first so make sure you are studying your forms and your course materials.

Do you have any advice for the general public?

Try out Wushu! You can start at any time and our team is supportive of all learners. Hmm other than that eat well, take care of yourself, and stay positive? Thank you!

Hello everyone!

There has been an update to our 2016-2017 council. Unfortuantely our former Internal Relations Coordinator, Ryan Phelen, will not be able to join us this year. Instead he will be attending a study abroad in Japan!

Introducing our new Internal Relations Coordinator for the 2016-2017 school year:

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Brenda Heng

Congratulations to Ryan for all of his accomplishments!

Year 2016-2017!

Hello everyone!

In preparation for the next school year, we have transitioned into new leadership!

Introducing our new council for 2016-2017:

Coaches: Elirissa Hui and Blake Rawson

Ellie

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Internal Relations Coordinator: Ryan Phelan

Ryan

External Relations Coordinator: Kiyomi Manabe

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Congratulations to the new council, and good luck next year!

April Alumni Spotlight

UO Wushu and Brandon Sugiyama

[UO Wushu team with Brandon Sugiyama at 20th Collegiate Tournament]

We bring back the Alumni Spotlight with Brandon Sugiyama!

Sugiyama is a former UO Wushu member who started the annual collegiate wushu tournament 20 years ago. Sugiyama was also the University of Oregon Wushu’s second  captain, following after Daniel Wu.

 

How did you get into wushu?

Wushu was not something that I was looking for.  It kind of just happened to me.  My freshman year of college I’d gotten very involved with APASU and that’s how I met Dan Wu.  He was just starting the wushu club and had put some flyers around the APASU office and invited the members to come check it out.

I’d never heard of wushu and honestly, I wasn’t initially interested at all.  However, a few friends went and encouraged me to go so a few weeks after Dan started teaching I tried my first workout.

I kind of instantly fell into it.  I remember the first workouts being incredibly difficult.  Everything was hard.  I felt very uncoordinated and terribly inflexible, but something clicked. I liked that it was this foreign thing for my body and brain to try and grasp.  I made it a priority to make every practice.

 

Can you describe what the UO wushu club was like in the first few years?

The club was small and we worked out in the basement of the Gerlinger Annex.  This is going to sound strange but there was close to zero social interaction at practices.  Dan ran things very formally and there was no talking.  The only break we got was one water break halfway through practice.  We all collectively walked down the hall to the drinking fountain, took turns drinking a few sips, and then all walked back to practice.  Awkwardly, we didn’t talk during this break!

People came and went and eventually we developed a small core group.  Just a handful really.  With time we started talking to each other and became friends.  I think one of the first events that really brought us together was going to watch The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk at the Bijou Theater’s Kung Fu movie festival.

 

What advice would you give to athletes and students training wushu that you wish you’ve known earlier?

Don’t let competition consume you.  Or more importantly, don’t let winning and losing define how you value your wushu training.  How you fare in competition is determined by several elements:  your performance, your competitors’ performance, the judging, and politics. You only have control over your performance.

I loved competition and after making the US Team in 1999 and competing at Worlds, I made it a very important goal to make the team again and go back to Worlds and improve on my performance there.

I returned to team trials in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and never made the A team again.  I never went to Worlds again.  This was really crushing to me as I felt like I’d put everything I had into wushu.  I quit my job in 2002 so I could enroll in the Beijing Sports University to train every day.  I made a lot of sacrifices in my life so I could make it to practice and travel for competition and I qualified those sacrifices with my goal of making the US Team.

In 2005, I gave myself an ultimatum that I would go to team trials one last time.  I told myself, if I don’t make it, then it’s time for me to quit wushu.  The 2005 team trials was one of the worst trials I’ve ever been to in terms of perceived fairness and organization.  For people that were there, and some of us just had this conversation over dinner after collegiates, it was a turbulent event.  There was tension between coaches, judges, organizers and athletes the entire weekend and a lot of people left with a very sour taste in their mouths.

For myself, I walked away bitter.  I felt cheated.  I thought that this sport, that I’d dedicated so much of my energy and passion to, had become a sham and I’d wasted my time.

So I quit.  Even though I’d always been pretty vocal about poor organization and politics in the wushu scene, I didn’t really share these feelings with anyone.  I had so many great memories and experiences through wushu, but there was this deep hurt because of what I perceived as failures within the wushu community and a failure to reach my goal.

One of the reasons that I’m back involved with the sport, especially as a judge, is because I feel very strongly that athletes deserve to be judged fairly.  Athletes deserve to compete at well-organized events.  Athletes deserve more transparency in how they are being scored.

But back to the advice that I’d give to athletes: don’t let your competition results define you.  Share your love for the art and support your fellow competitors.

 

What inspired you to organize the first collegiate wushu tournament?

I spent part of the summer before my senior year in Berkeley, CA and trained with Calwushu and Pacific Wushu.  Within a small group of friends we started talking about the idea of having a wushu tournament for college students where they could represent their schools and compete as a team.  It was a pretty simple idea, but we got very excited about it because it had never been done.  We talked about it over a few late nights after wushu practice and eventually collectively decided to make it happen.

 

What were some challenges you faced in organizing such a huge tournament?

First, it wasn’t a huge tournament!  It was tiny.  There might have been less than 30-40 competitors.

The biggest challenge was that it’d never been done before.  Somehow we had to convince people, competitors and judges, to show up. We pulled a lot of favors and reached out to everyone we knew.

 

Can you describe the first collegiates?

It was a really special day.  I think everyone felt like we were part of something new and were proud to be there representing their schools.  We’d come together as friends and fellow martial artists because of our shared love for wushu.

 

 Here’s some trivia from the first collegiates for you:

– Several of the competitors went on to start Rotten Tomatoes

– One of the judges brought two of his young students to watch.  Those two boys were Phillip and Peter Dang, who went on to dominate the US wushu scene (including collegiates) and both made the US Wushu Team.

– The head judge was Liu Yu.  Her daughter, who was only a few years old at the time, went on to lead the Harvard Wushu club and competed at collegiates.

– One competitor from Oregon sat across from a competitor from Berkeley at the after tournament banquet.  They took a liking to each other and are now married with two kids.

– The MC for the day was Dan Wu, the coach of the Oregon Wushu Club.  He went on to become a very famous Hong Kong actor and most recently produced and starred in AMC’s “Into The Badlands”

 

 

How has collegiate changed over the years?

It’s amazing to see how much the event and the collegiate wushu community has grown!  I was very involved for the first few years and gradually took a step back as the next generation of students took the reins.  What is truly inspirational to me is that collegiates is a community effort.  It’s something that everyone wants to be a part of and you can feel that energy in the room.  Collegiates is overseen by a loose organization, there is no president, no board of directors, so sifus nor wushu schools that control it and every year, for the past 20 years, collegiates happens. It’s never missed a year!  It started on the west coast, but then traveled to Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and most recently to New York.  What an amazing journey!  What’s next for collegiate?  Will it go to the midwest? The southwest? Could it every go international?

As much as things have grown, the spirit of the event has remained very much the same. I felt it when we all lined up at the very first collegiates and my friend and coach Dan Wu gave an opening speech about how we had planted a seed that grew into a tree and we were enjoying the fruit from the tree.  At the risk of sounding extremely sentimental, I feel this way at every single collegiates I’ve been to (by my count, a total of 17).

 

How have you balanced wushu with your life and job after college?

Ironically, it took me stepping away from wushu and then eventually coming back before I felt that I’d found a balance.  Part of that was me going back to school and establishing a new career path in my life.  The other part was redefining what wushu meant to me and what role I want to play in the wushu community.  I think it’s really important for wushu athletes to have a clear sense of why we practice wushu and what it means to us.  It’s going to be different for everyone, but that clarity will guide you.  For myself, I continue to practice wushu because I learn so much about myself and ways to understand the world around me.  It’s not so much about finding a balance between wushu and my career as much as understanding that they are both very important parts of my life.

February Update

Hello Everyone!

It has been awhile since we have posted, but we have been performing at several events! In case you missed it, here are a few of our demos from the last couple weeks:

East Dream Dance Concert

UO Taiwanese Student Association – Taiwan Night

Here are a few of our upcoming demos:

We would love for you all to come and support us!