Oliver // Age 30 // Wushu Adults and Teens // March 2022
You may have seen him wielding a giant broadsword or throwing mantis hands around, thinking “That’s amazing! Who is that guy?”. Well, his name is Oliver and he is the student I would like to recognize this month. Actually, in my eyes, he is less of a student and more a Kungfu Brother. Oliver’s training surpasses even that of my own, both in years and in lineage. He comes from an extensive background of training with renown Masters in his previous home dating back to when he was just a child. Despite having a few years off, he has retained much of what he learned in the past, not only physically but also in the deep wisdom and character development of the art. His patience, humility, and dedication are just a few ways that he displays his kungfu spirit. In addition, his beautiful technique shows his attention to detail and that he does not just train, but he trains well. Since joining East Cloud, he and his wife have become both friends and training partners of mine. Their kind and uplifting energy bring so much positivity to any class they join and they are truly a cherished part of our school.
Thank you Oliver for being such an inspiring part of our community! We hope you accomplish all you wish and we are here to support you in this next Saga!
(Imari) Can you tell us about your kungfu background? When did you begin practicing the Chinese martial arts and how long did you train for?
(Oliver) I began my martial arts journey a little over 20 years ago under the tutelage of Sifu Bow Sim Mark. Her school follows the Fu style lineage of Tai Chi. Many of her former students became Wushu competitors, started their own schools, and made careers in the film industry. It was here where I learned most of my internal chinese martial arts and my Wushu foundation. When she retired, I started training with one of her former top students, Sifu Rick Wong. Under Sifu Wong, I began learning more advanced Wushu and combatives.
(I) What are all the styles/ forms that you have learned?
(O) *haha I’ve learned so many over the years that I can hardly keep track of it all. A true jack of all trades and a master of none. I consider myself a practitioner of Fu style Tai Chi but I’ve learned a bit of Yang and Sun styles. Other internal arts include Xing Yi and Ba Gua. Of course, Wushu has always been a love and keeps me challenged. Over the years, I also trained in combative sports as well including Muay Thai, Sanda, Shuai jiao, and some BJJ.
(I) Out of those styles, what is your favorite and what is your least favorite? Why?
(O) I often find myself going back to my roots and that is Fu style. The style is so unique and uncommon that there are only a few practitioners left. Despite this, the balance of both beauty and functionality in this style make it really enjoyable to practice. If I had to pick it would, ironically, be Wushu. Some days…it just hurts.
(I) Can you tell us about your experience in competitive wushu? What was it like? What did you like about it and what did you not like about it?
(O) Competitions can be really fun! It’s a great way to test your skills against others, make new friends, and experience a martial arts world beyond your everyday practice. Sometimes what you see in competitions can be different from what you are taught, and you may not always agree with the judging. But the one thing I love about competing is that it sets goals for one to work towards and when you achieve them, the feeling of accomplishment is unrivaled.
(I) Care to share a memory you have of training as a child?
(O) Sifu Mark was a person of a few words. When I was practicing staff one day, she had casually stopped by to watch without me noticing. When I finished, she nodded and said, “Good.” Then she walked away. That was the first and only time she ever praised me about my kung fu. XD
(I) What is one piece of advice you received from your previous master(s) that will always stick with you?
(O) “Don’t talk. Do.” Again, she was a woman of few words. This was a philosophy that was carried by both masters. Basically, it means you can’t learn kung fu by talking about it and you should not overthink it either. Kung fu is physical. The best way to learn is to just try and do it. It’s also best to learn by observing closely, and you can’t observe well if you’re talking.
(I) Would you be interested in getting back into competition?
(O) Definitely. I can’t wait to be the “young” guy in the geriatric division.
(I) What would you say are your greatest strengths in your practice? What about your weakness?
(O) My greatest strength would have to be my years of experience. I’m able to learn things quicker when I have seen similar movements before. This is also my greatest weakness because sometimes muscle memory from old teachings conflict with new ones.
(I) How would you say kung fu has impacted your life?
(O) Kung fu has brought balance in my life in many ways. When I was a small, sickly child it gave me health. When I’m upset or sad, it brings me peace. When I feel threatened, it gives me strength. And when I feel alone, it gives me family.
(I) Do you have any specific goals or things you hope to accomplish in this coming year?
(O) Despite just entering my 30’s, I’m aiming to be in the best shape of my life and becoming a better martial artist than I was before.
(I) Anything else you’d like to say?
(O) Some words of advice to the young or seasoned. Like most things in life, the hardest thing about Kung Fu is not the pain. It’s the consistency. It’s making it a part of your daily or weekly routine. Life is always trying to take it away so do your best to make time for it. Sometimes it can take 20 years before you’ll feel like you’re finally doing it right, and maybe another 20 to achieve your Kung Fu dreams.
(I) Thank you Oliver!