Lotus Dragon at 2011 US Kuo Shu Championships

Imagine 500 or more competitors around you doing Chinese martial arts all day and night. They share the same love and fervor for their hobby and lifestyle as much as you. The excitement in the air is palpable, while the nervousness passes over you in waves. You learn to love the smell of Tiger Balm in the morning. You spend all night practicing, all day waiting for your chance to prove you've learned an inkling of what your Sifu has shown you.

This just describes the surface of what goes on during the United States Kuo Shu Federation National tournament in Hunt Valley, Maryland. There are also countless adventures, stories, eating, and drinking to be had with the school. You leave with an increased motivation and happiness to train harder than ever before.

You register and then go watch Opening Ceremonies. You get to view an entertaining lion dance, view amazing Masters Demos, and learn who the hard-working people organizing this event are. Then you spend all day warming up, practicing, and wait for your event to be called. Your hands shake while you perform, and it’s usually the worst version of your Tai Chi you’ve ever done, but you get to pat your back that you’ve done it in front of unknown people and important teachers.

The best part (besides hanging with your kung fu family) is the instruction you can receive. If you hang out after your event is over, judges will come over and give you mini-lessons. They’re often advanced nuggets of wisdom. It’s also great when your family wins medals for bragging rights!

It’s definitely worth the trip. You realize that your school community is just part of this much larger one, this one full of mutual respect, love, and compassion for our traditions and martial art. It’s an invaluable memory.

Note from Sifu (from his best recollection):

  • Jason Kooi won two golds, 2 silvers, and 3 bronzes
  • Vanessa Kooi won 2 golds and 2 silvers and a bronze
  • Alison Carrier won 2 gold medals