June Alumni Spotlight!

Michael Nilson!

[Photo retrieved from Facebook]

How did you find out about UO Wushu?

My intro to the wushu team happened when I came to school at the UO. Originally I didn’t know what wushu was or really had any initial interest in it. I even remember seeing the members of the team warming up for a demo before I joined, but it wasn’t until about a week later when my roommate for the dorms asked me if I wanted to go to one of the practices. I said sure and the rest became history, me becoming hooked from my first practice.

How long were you involved with the club?

I started in fall of 2009, attending practices for my entire college career, and even continuing to attend some practices while I was still in Eugene until 2016.

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

The most rewarding thing for me would definitely be the people that you meet. For me the team became a second family while I was at school, and in many cases I still go to many of the alumni for advice. The most difficult thing was the time management. There were many times I would have to limit how much wushu I could do outside of practice because I had something more important to do and I wasn’t too great at it.

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

The most difficult, was being able to describe how a technique actually felt. I had never really thought about feeling a movement out before I became captain. It was just something that if I did the technique “correctly” I knew it from muscle memory. But if someone came up to me asking, “How should I feel when doing this move?” I was at a loss. It gave me something more to work on. The most rewarding thing was being able to see the progress other teammates made throughout the year, however big or small it was.

How did you balance all your activities during college?

I wasn’t too great at balancing everything. I ended up prioritizing wushu more over my other activities.

Did you specialize in something?

I didn’t really stick with any specific weapons or forms, other than longfist. For my first few years I dabbled in everything, learning almost a new weapon each year. It wasn’t until the later school years that I picked up eagle-claw and although I wouldn’t say I specialized in it, the form became one of my favorites for demos and competitions.

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

I remember my first competition being somewhat of a blur because I had only one event and the beginners went first. But at my next competition, I became nervous thinking about competing. As I competed more over the years, the tension from competition became less and less, as I learned to relax well before my events, despite who I was going up against. As for physical progression, I tried to get input from as many sources as possible. Everyone, no matter their skill level, has their own opinion on what your wushu should be. The way I found to progress, was to actually listen to the criticism given to me, whether its something I wanted to hear or not.

How did the Wushu community impact your life?

The majority of my close friends in college came from the UO wushu team. There were many times where a few of us would stay at the gym well after practice had ended, sometimes still practicing and others just lounging in the mat room, enjoying the time spent with each other.

How has Wushu impacted your life?

I wasn’t that outgoing of a person before wushu being more of a follower, waiting for someone else to step up to a challenge. Wushu helped make me someone who’s steps up more when others are reluctant, something my previous employers have stated that they liked about me.

Where are you now in life?

Currently I am pursuing a career with Oregon’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Do you still practice?

Not as much as I would like to. I still tend to practice spear basics as it has become my favorite weapon out of all my dabbling.

Do you have any advice for current team members?

I am not the one who should be saying this but don’t procrastinate on anything. It sucks having to rush out school work or that presentation that you need to write. So just get it done.