wushu west 2011 05 29


It has been 2 years since I’ve regularly practiced Wushu. The last class I attended was around Christmas 2009 when I took Caralyne, but I had stopped around early June of 2009 when most of the class left for China.

Over the past year, my conscious mind has told me it really enjoys just going to work, and then back home, with no interruptions. It has told me that I’m not young enough, or good enough to continue with martial arts, and I might as well accept that and embrace my more passive hobbies. All the while, there was a voice in the back, whimpering, “But you do Wushu…”

This Sunday that voice got to scream and shout with all its enthusiasm, “YES, YOU DO WUSHU!”

Was I euphoric from the nostalgia of being there? Did I release a stream of endorphin’s from the vigorous workout? Did the time away clean the slate, and I got to enter a class without the gossip and drama that I began to resent? Was it because I did not have to worry about how I was going to make the tuition and what sort of IT support requests would be attached to that?

Yeah, it was all of the above, and I’m okay with that. I happy I was able to enjoy the class for what it was.

Last week I got an email from Mark, my good friend/coach who now lives in China. He was going to surprise Sifu Patti and stop by the Sunday class, with plans of going out for lunch afterwards.

This was a great reason to wake up earlier than I normally would on a Sunday morning, so I dusted off the old workout bag and drove to Berkeley.

I arrived a the best time possible, as Mark was hiding in the waiting room, and James pulled up just as I got out of my truck. Mark and I bickered over who should walk in first, so we eventually went in side by side, nearly squeezing through the door frame at once.

Patti was happily surprised when she spotted the two of us, and I may have put her in a traumatic state of shock with my fuzziness. We greeted, hugs all around, and then I joined the line up to salute and begin.

My own expectation of the class was something like this: I’ll be able to hang for warmups, and then die when it comes to the killer relays of sprints and frog-leaps that James loves to do; then I’ll get through a few lines of basics and finally crap out.



To my surprise, and everyone else seemed pretty happy about it as well, I worked out the entire two hours with very few breaks, and most of my muscle memory came back to help me do everything. For the most part, my brain and legs said “Hell yeah, we can do this!” but only a few times, during the difficult jumps, did my legs disagree with my brain. My brain said “We remember this, lets do it!”, yet my legs were stubborn and refused to leave the ground.

Mark joined in after stretching, and he helped a group (including me) on some simple southern style basics:


Pierre, “Van” (which I found out later, works at LBL in IT supporting Juniper (FreeBSD based BTW…) equipment) and Mark


I did not catch her name, she was nice and a hard worker. Here Mark is showing her how to snap through the hips more.

James, in between leading the class, was also working on various jumps and twists:


One time when I landed like that, I had to stop for 6 or so weeks. Then I was super flexible…

After class we went to lunch:


Little Star Pizza in Albany, on Solano

We collectively rallied against Patti and split the bill with out her. I even managed to finagle her credit card away from her while James grabbed the bill. Thats great team work right there.


A common theme between the group is we all take pictures at the same time

Afterwards we grabbed a cup of coffee, getting a group shot:


Patti, Mark and Pierre


Mark, myself and James. Pierre was off to the side taking another picture

I had a great time.

There is something about Wushu West that feels like home, and it was welcoming to join the class and feel like just a regular student there, doing conditioning drills and basic stances. My legs are the most sore they have ever been in a long time. Aside from my first rose peak attempt, I don’t think I’ve felt this much burning lactic acid build since I left Wushu West.

It was great seeing everyone, doing little interview for Mark’s students (see the camcorder there?), and spending a nice afternoon there.

Going back to Wushu West on a regular basis is just not in the cards right now, I cannot afford the tuition, gas to get there, and the time it takes to drive out there and back home. I’m not going to rule it out for the future though, I know I’ll aways be a student there.