“Hey girl, can you come pick me up? I’m off earlier than expected.”

For the first time ever, she had been suspended from work. She knew she deserved it, she was a mess, but she had no control over the intensity of emotions that had been constricting her each and every day.

She wanted to be okay, she tried so hard to be okay. Her mask had been beautiful and convincing but at some point, her continual tears began to leak from the tiny cracks and she could no longer hold it together.

The first mistake could be over-looked and if it had been just one, everything would be different. However, there were more… enough that it had been quite clear that she needed to take time to figure things out and get herself straight. What was a boss to do?

“Take the rest of the week off, we’ll see you on Monday”

So she called her friend to pick her up early for their walk at the lake.

How many times had she driven past it and not seen it? Maybe always, maybe never. However, the one time that a split second would truly impact her life is the moment she looked the window and saw it:

Kungfu Center 武术中心

My journey with the Chinese martial arts began in 2010 when I was 24 years old. On a particularly bad day at the beginning of what I would call my “quarter life crisis”, I happened to catch a kungfu school in a glance as my friend drove us to the lake for an afternoon walk. Having been going through the first difficult period in my young adult life, I knew I wanted a hobby that would help me find stability so I went back the next day to find out what this school was all about. The Master was welcoming and invited me to try a class. That was the beginning.

Chinese kungfu instantly became my passion and this school, my sanctuary. I knew from the beginning I needed this art in my life, my whole life. What I did not know at the time is that this school did not just simply introduce me to an amazing activity, it opened my entire world and would lead me to places and experiences that I had never imagined for myself.

My love for the Chinese martial arts and culture took me all the way to China, beyond even, but now I have come full circle. The Master that welcomed me all those years ago, my first master, has transitioned in his life and as a result the fate of that first school has been passed on to me. I have been given the opportunity to take care of the school that once took care of me and with an enormous support from my family, friends, and students and parents at the school, I am now the proud and very grateful owner of my very first school of Chinese Martial Arts.

Life timeline

October 28, 1986

Born in the year of the Tiger.

2009 – Graduation

Graduated from NCSU with a BS in Zoology / Minor in Animal Science.

2010 – Chinese Martial Arts Center

Discovered the Chinese Martial Arts Center in Raleigh. Began studies with Master Jin Chen and Master Weichun Zhao in Wushu and Taichi.

2012 – First Excursion To China

First excursion to China with NCSU’s study abroad program PB 495: Plant Resources, Ecology and Culture led by Jenny Xiang and David Boufford. Received her Chinese name Ma Lian 玛莲from Chinese friends on the trip.

2013 – Science Instructor In China

Hired by Global Educational Institute for a position as a Science Instructor at Suzhou North American High School in Suzhou, China. Will stay there three years.

2014 – Foreigner Talent Show

Trained with a local wushu teacher at an elementary school in Suzhou and represented the WuZhong group with a Wushu Performance in Suzhou’s Biennial televised Foreigner Talent Show, winning 2nd place in the competition.

2015 – Rising Dragon School

First tour at Rising Dragon Martial Arts School. Intensive trainings and studies of shaolin style under master Bai Haozhou.

2016 – Just Married And Cycling Around The World

Two months after getting married, wife and husband begin their long distance bicycle tour through Europe and Southeast Asia.

2017 – Muay Thai

Studied at Sitjemam Muay Thai School.

2017 – 8 Months Intensive Training

Second Tour to Rising Dragon Martial Arts School in China. Intensive trainings and studies of shaolin style under Master Yang and Master Meng. Studies in bagua and taichi under Master Ma Kaiyi.

2018 – Belgium

Moved to Belgium with Husband, sampling various Chinese martial arts schools in the area.

2018 – East Cloud Kungfu

East Cloud Kungfu Raleigh

East Cloud Kungfu, LLC’s first day open as a school.


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