During the first weekend of April, 1999 I was given the chance to participate in a practice session being held at the National Wushu Training Center (NWTC) in Huntington Beach with the Beijing Wushu Team.
The whole weekend was chock full of activity so I’ll break each part in to its own section. The first will cover training with the U.C. Irvine Wushu Club, the second will be about training with the Beijing Team, the third about the Beijing Team demo on Saturday afternoon and the final section will discuss the trip with the Beijing Team to Disneyland.
I should also mention that I have about 150 pictures from the weekend to post up so keep your eyes peeled for those in the gallery.
Friday, April 2
I left work early in order to make my way to U.C. Irvine and catch some of their workout. Matt Wong, my kind host and source of my lodging while in Southern California, told me that the club met at 7:30 pm near the location of the collegiate tournament, but since it was spring break at U.C. Irvine, they would be working out outdoors.
I arrived a few minutes late and scouted around for their practice area which I found at the tennis courts at the end of the field. They had already started basics so I quickly put on my wushu shoes, warmed up and stretched some vital muscles. Since it was spring break they had a few less people than usual at workout (7 total, if I recall correctly) so I missed seeing Quan who is a Berkeley Wushu Alum as well as Brian Yu from Wushu West who now attends U.C. Irvine.
I started basics when they were doing kicks and the first thing I have to say is that they practice their kicks on both sides. That threw me off for a bit. Actually, not just their kicks, but all their techniques. Doing the double-body turn on the other side is not as easy as you might imagine — let alone trying to do jumping inside kicks and jumping outside kicks. So that was a pleasant challenge.
After a fair amount of basics the teacher, Vadim Zhukov, had us split up on different parts of the practice area and work on our sets. This was a bit of a challenge too. Why? Well .. because I’m used to a different style of forms practice. At my school and at Cal people go out and do a section or two at a time one after the other. After you’ve done your form you get some corrections from the coach and then practice for a bit and then when it’s your turn go out and do your sections again.
At the U.C. Irvine practice each person works on their forms in their own area and the teacher walks around making corrections to each person. Imagine the practice session from Shaolin Temple and you’ll get the idea. This was tricky for me mainly because I have no ability to pace myself. At first I’d work pretty hard, but since I didn’t have to wait for other people to take their turns I wasn’t very good at determining when I can re-do my sections. As a result I winded myself pretty quick. It was a fun challenge in pacing myself. I’ve always had that problem when practicing on my own. I never really know what to do while I’m catching my breath. I guess it’s something to work on.
After about an hour or so of forms practice (the majority of which I sat out) Coach Zhukov ran us through some cool-down exercises which were nice. I think I might implement some of those next time I’m running workouts at my school.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the workout so you’ll have to rely solely on my riveting descriptions.
We were all fairly hungry after the workout so we (Matt, Peter, Lilly, Tony and I) drove to a local Chinese restaurant and gorged ourselves on the local fare. It was actually very tasty. One weird thing about it though: as Matt and I were leaving I realized that it was in the exact same complex that I ate in with Patrick, some other Design Reactor folks and Pat’s relatives. There’s a Japanese restaurant there which is really tasty. It was a very weird feeling. Guess you had to be there …
That night I stayed at Matt’s nice studio apartment in Irvine on his comfy futon couch thingee. We watched a bunch of wushu videos before calling it a night and going to sleep. The next morning Peter and Tony came over a bit before 8:00 to pick us up for the Beijing Team workout … but that story is covered in the next segment. ^_^