It’s rare to find Wushu in Oregon. When Daniel Wu started the club in 1994, he became the team’s first coach while trying to spread awareness about the sport. Wu is now in movies in Hollywood, but his club is still going strong.
The Oregon Wushu club is now player-led and coached less as it tries to grow off the experiences of its coordinators and captains. Despite everyone practicing and choreographing the competition together, the sport is very individual-driven. Club members compete against Pac-12 schools such as UCLA, Stanford and Cal. The experienced members of Wushu have found a way to ease the stress as they go from year to year.
“This year I was really scared, but I talked to some people and they told me that I shouldn’t think of it as competition,” Elirissa Hui, the club treasurer and coordinator said.
Hui’s mindset has gone from a negative one, worrying about forgetting a portion of the choreography for example, to thinking of it as practicing with new people.
“Competitions are the best way for me to see what I need to work on,” said Kasey Sullivan, a beginner with the Wushu club.
Sullivan took advice she received at the competitions and was able to improve during the second competition of the year.
Wing Ng is the captain and coach for the club. He doesn’t just want to see his teammates do well, but puts a lot of emphasis on sportsmanship.
“It’s not expecting to really win or lose but just to learn and see different styles and see how people are doing and how they are training to make themselves better,” Ng said.
Ng has seen other personal benefits from Wushu.
“I like to think I am a bit more athletic than I was my freshman year,” Ng said. “A lot of people, when they see videos of me my freshman year, they can see the physical difference between then and now.”
Wushu has helped Hui’s confidence level. She has been playing the sport for seven to eight years while being involved with the UO’s club for two years.
“Being in Wushu helped me get out of my shell once I got into college because it is pretty intimidating being in such a big place where you don’t know very many people,” Hui said.
Hui appreciates Wushu for giving her a social group and an extracurricular activity.
“Before I joined the club, I was kind of lost and didn’t have anyone to talk to on campus so it gives me a community to be in,” Sullivan said.
Ng believes that this is a good club because of the community that surrounds the sport. Despite being small, they are a close knit group of people.
“We know people from like New York and everything and it’s really cool to see so many people who love the same sport,” Hui said.
Ng remembers when he met a 60-year-old who was jumping around and doing moves that he and the group couldn’t do.
“He was asking us, ‘Oh are you okay? Are you tired?’ and all of us were out of breath and he was just sweating a little.”
“I honestly wouldn’t know what I would be doing this year if I wasn’t in Wushu,” Sullivan said.
Follow Keoni Conlu on Twitter @kconlu13