[Photo Submitted by Megan Bernatzki)
How did you find out about UO Wushu?
I first started training in Wushu during my senior year of high school with Tom Diamond, a member of UO Wushu at the time. I learned from him for about a year before I started college and joined the team.
How long were you involved with the club?
I was with the UO Wushu team for about two years, during my freshman and sophomore years of college.
What were the most difficult and most rewarding factors of being on team?
It was always rewarding to work both independently on individual forms as well as to work with my teammates in order to put on performances. Working as an individual where I could rely on myself in order to train hard enough to become more confident in a from was incredibly motivating, although encouragement from the other members was always a big help. And then working together with my teammates added a whole new level of determination, and it was satisfying to see a show come together the more we practiced for each one. I was always personally more interested in the performing aspect of Wushu rather than the competition, although competing against other athletes who have trained equally as hard was also very rewarding and inspiring.
As for difficulties, sometimes it could be disheartening when I didn’t make as much progress with a particular movement as I wanted to, or when I would end up with an injury that would limit my progress for an amount of time. But I’m thankful to my teammates who were always incredibly encouraging and supportive whenever I would hit such roadblocks.
How did you balance all your activities during college?
I don’t procrastinate! I always work on projects as soon as I am able to, rather than at the last minute. It makes things much less stressful and anxiety-inducing than putting things off until there’s barely any time to get them done. This allows me to also take somewhat frequent breaks to give myself some time to relax and get away from the stress of school before getting back into it. And I’ve found that it’s really important to find something extracurricular, such as Wushu, to be a part in during college. It gives you something fun to look forward to when school gets tough and helps build relationships with people interested in the same things as you are.
Did you specialize in something?
I specialized in twin hook swords and Nanquan, the former of which I competed with. I didn’t get the chance to compete in Nanquan, but I really enjoyed the style and am thankful to Ray Tsunoda for taking the time to teach me as much as he did.
How did the Wushu community impact your life?
The Wushu community provided a sense of place and belonging to me while I was going through my transitional years from high school to college. I made some really close friends through the team that I still communicate and spend time with, and they saw me through some difficult times in my life. I’ll always be thankful for the support and advice that they gave me, and continue to give me, they have helped shape me into the person that I am now.
How has Wushu impacted your life?
Wushu instilled in me an incredible amount of respect and admiration for athletes, both in martial arts and other sports. It allowed me to see and experience the physical, mental, and emotional journey that one goes through in the practice, and it’s always amazing to see that work pay off in performances and competitions. It also allowed me to travel to places that I wouldn’t have otherwise which was a great experience in itself.
Where are you in life now?
I’m currently finishing up my last year at the U of O with a degree in environmental science. I’m also directing a dance team on campus, which has become one of my biggest passions. And I work as a sculpture artist to help pay for tuition and textbooks!
Do you have any advice for current team members?
Please stay as encouraging and humble as you always were when I was part of the team! And to the new members that I haven’t met, never be afraid to go to those that are more experienced than you are for advice and knowledge. Some of my favorite memories from being on the team were when I was training outside of practice with some of the more senior members at the time. They were more than happy to help, and I know that this is still the case today.
Do you have any advice for the general public?
Be kind to one another 🙂