My Time in Taiwan: A Personal Account

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By: Matthew Lee

Written December 20th, 2019

“All in all, this was a very positive experience for me, and I’m glad I at least got to experience everything I wanted to while I still had the chance.  I will never forget what I have seen and experienced, it is something that will influence me and stay with me for the rest of my life.” —Quote taken directly from the write-up

Abstract: This is part of a segment of write-ups entitled “A Personal Account.”  These write-ups mainly consist of play-by-plays as well as my detailed personal experiences, as the name suggests, of specific Wushu-related events I attend.  These events will range from Wushu performances to competitions, and other such martial arts related events that I can afford to attend, given that I am in the area.  This specific edition will be about my trip to Taiwan.

As of right now, I am on my first return flight back from Taipei, Taiwan, with a layover in Narita, Japan, before my destination back to Washington DC (essentially, the reverse of my route arriving to Taipei).  This was an experience over a year in the planning, as my father was Taiwanese by birth, having emigrated over to the US in 1980, and after nearly 40 years of not having returned to his homeland, decided he wanted to go back and visit.  I viewed this as an opportunity for myself as well to not only try to familiarize myself with my heritage from my father’s side, as I had done with my mother visiting Seoul, Korea in 2011, and at least go back once in my life to experience it for myself, but to also explore the Chinese martial arts culture in Taipei.  Unfortunately, while this trip was originally planned for last year around this time, my father eventually cancelled these plans, as he did not have enough PTO (paid time off) from his job to cover the vacation.  However, he made the promise for us to go the following year, which I kept in mind for the future.  Finally, this trip had become a reality, and the experience of a lifetime for me.  And while I’m on my way back, I’d like to take the time to write about it while the experience is still fresh in my mind.

Traveling to Taiwan was a big opportunity I was looking forward to, as aside from understanding my father’s heritage and looking at the Chinese martial culture in Taipei, it would also give me a fresh perspective into Chinese culture that I did not have when I had previously been to the Beijing Shichahai Sports School (which has sadly now reportedly been closed off to foreigners) in China, home of the internationally famed Beijing Wushu Team, during the summer of 2009 and the summer of 2010.  In fact, most of the Mandarin that I had learned and picked up was based on the pinyin (拼音; pīnyīn, literally “phonetic writing”) method formulated by mainland China to help standardize the learning of Mandarin, with the combination of a couple Jet Li movies along with some other mainland Chinese movies, so most of my grasp of Mandarin was in fact from mainland China, not from Taiwan, as my father’s side of the family, as well other Taiwanese individuals, were quick to point out.  As a result, there would ultimately be a disconnect to my Chinese heritage, not in terms of simple dialect or semantics, but in the traditional culture, mannerisms and values, as I refused to admit at the time but would later come to find out, such as in my interview with Taiwanese Wushu athlete Hsiao “Jing” Chingying, “Wushu From Taiwan: An Interview with Hsiao Chingying”, where I admit that I could have worded some things better to make the interview go smoother, as well as how I conversed and carried myself when speaking Mandarin to other Chinese people.  This trip would last only about a week, from December 13th to the 20th.  Multiple friends had asked me why it was so short.  In all fairness, the original plan was to spend one week in Taiwan, with an additional couple days in Korea prior, to visit my mother’s family.  However, their appeared to be some family drama (the details of which I am very unclear on, so I won’t go into it) that prevented us from being able to stay in Korea as planned, so my mother decided to forgo the trip to Korea altogether, and only go to Taiwan.  Thus, we ended up staying only one week in Taiwan at the San Want ???.

Day 1

For my first full day, which fell on Saturday the 14th in Taiwan, I had arranged to visit Coach Zhang Enhuang, a coach specializing in Sanda (散打; sàndǎ, free fighting), also known as Sanshou (散手; sànshǒu, free hand), and other combat sports, particularly Muay Thai, and who I was referred to by Coach Ian (Yiyuan) Lee, coach of the national US Wushu Sanda Team, and who was himself Taiwanese by birth and also emigrated over to the US after his retirement as a Sanda fighter, and was also a student under Coach Zhang Enhuang.  According to Coach Lee, Coach Zhang Enhuang was the first one to bring combat sports and Muay Thai to Taiwan, making him integral to history and development of combat sports in Taiwan in general, as well as the Director of the Chinese Boxing (San Da) Combat Association.  Initially, I had planned to spend the rest of the weekend resting from the long flights en route to Taipei and doing whatever my parents wanted to do.  However, Coach Zhang Enhuang communicated to me prior that he had to go to Abu Dhabi for competition purposes on Monday the 16th, thus establishing that it was best to see him as soon as possible.  So, we arranged to meet on Saturday while his martial arts school, Concord Martial Academy, was still open during business hours from 4:00pm to 5:30pm, while he was still present.

As per Coach Zhang Enhuang’s suggestion, we took a taxi from the hotel.  The school was tucked in the corner of a local narrow street intersection, with a rather small office floor at the open entrance, where the steps had slippers that we as guests would wear and leave our shoes at the entrance.  The man at the front desk immediately recognized us as “Coach’s guests” and guided us down the narrow stairs to a matted basement, where the amateur class would shortly begin, though it was clear that there were some professional fighters that were more experienced than others training there.  Coach Zhang Enhuang himself would come down the steps not long after and was kind enough to make tea for us while conversing.  In the beginning, he asked in Mandarin whether I learned traditional or modern Wushu, to which I replied, “modern Wushu”, and if my specialization was in Changquan (长拳; chángquán, Long Fist), Nanquan (南拳; nánquán, Southern Fist), or Taijiquan (太极拳; tàijíquán, Grand Ultimate Fist), to which I replied, “Changquan.”  This showed that he was very knowledgeable in the complete Chinese martial arts culture, not just in combat sports.  Other topics discussed were his own professional history in combat sports, Guoshu (国术; guóshù, traditional Chinese martial arts, literally “national art”) and the fact that martial arts was being controlled by the military at the time, as well as my father’s history in Taiwan.  Afterwards, he arranged for an Uber car, which he was immeasurably kind in paying for prior (alas, the crafty generosity of Asians treating and paying for others strikes again), to pick us up from the school straight to the night market, after my father mentioned that we were interesting in experiencing it.  There, we were able to enjoy the various sights while shopping, and of course, experienced some of the great food as well, as Taiwan is known for its food (though I’m not a foodie; my interest here was more in martial arts).

Day 2

Unlike the day before, I didn’t really have set plans for Sunday the 15th.  However, Roland Quan, one of my current Wushu coach Ching-Yin “Bee” Lee’s traditional gongfu brothers as well as one of my seniors, had been keeping in frequent contact with me throughout my stay in Taipei, and had suggested that I meet with Chang Dawei, aka David Chang, the grandson of the famed and undefeated Shuai Jiao (摔跤; shuāijiāo, traditional Chinese folk wrestling) master Chang Dongsheng, dubbed the “Iron Butterfly.”  I had previously met Chang Dawei at a Shuai Jiao seminar he was hosting in Cupertino, California back in July, which was shortly after the 2019 US Wushu Taolu Team Trials over the weekend, my main reason for being in California.  Specifically, Roland brought me along to observe the second day of the seminar, where there were various movement patterns and progressive drills shared that gave me a lot of ideas behind the martial applications and fighting ideas behind the movements of Changquan as well.  Despite the last-minute arrangements, Roland was able to connect me to Mr. Guo Xuanhai, aka Mr. Stevenson Guo, who informed me that there would be a Shuai Jiao class 6:00pm tonight at the Minsheng Community Activity Center, in the judo studio on the 10th floor.

Originally, I was planning to get to the location by bus.  However, the bus I was meant to ride had just driven directly past the bus stop, which quickly rendered that plan moot (I was told afterwards that I probably should have waved the bus down leading up to the stop, but then at that point, why not take a taxi instead?).  Realizing that I wouldn’t be able to rely on the bus anymore, I quickly waved down a taxi, which got me there much quicker.  This was also truly my first time figuring out transportation on my own in a foreign country, as every other time I had been abroad, I always had other people with me to assist.  Though I did have a reasonable handle on Mandarin, so I wasn’t as completely lost as I was during my first trip to the Beijing Shichahai Sports School in China, in 2009.

The judo studio was a matted room with lockers lining the wall next to the door.  As I got there early, I was the first and only one in the room, but after 6:00pm hit, I was quickly and warmly welcomed by the students who would be training in the class.  Eventually, Chang Dawei himself entered the studio after 6:30pm, and to my surprise, he did indeed remember me.  Unfortunately, when I asked him if I could record, Chang Dawei refused.  However, he did invite me to practice along with the class, which he insisted on (which he also did previously at the seminar, and which I did not do then due to the instructor of the hosting group at the time not allowing it).  In fact, one of the students was nice enough to help me with quick corrections, telling me to take it slow as they went along, provide me with a belt for the class as they went along.  Within the class itself, there were various warm-up basics and movements, followed by some small Taolu (套路; tàolù, forms) both with and without belt cracking, and then two sets of partner drills for momei (摩眉; móméi, literally rubbing eyebrow), some of which Roland had shown me previously, and which they were apparently practicing for an upcoming performance.  According to Roland, the Taolu without belt cracking were some sort of original Changquan, which is an interesting belief and gives basis to the observation that Shuai Jiao is the oldest recorded martial art of China and has influenced various Chinese martial arts and Wushu styles; indeed, when watching and practicing the Taolu, I noticed some parallel movements with elbow techniques in modern Wushu Changquan, specifically dingzhou (顶肘; dǐngzhǒu, piercing elbow) and panzhou (盘肘; pánzhǒu, coiling elbow).  At the end of the class, Chang Dawei gave a small lecture on some of the self-defense implications of the momei drills practiced tonight, which was remarkably interesting.

Day 3

Unfortunately, I only got about 4 hours of sleep the previous night, as I had gotten back to the hotel from the Shuai Jiao class quite late at night.  Furthermore, my plans for Monday the 16th fell through, where I was planning to go see the training of modern Wushu Taolu athletes of the University of Taipei, Tien-Mu Campus, and was referred to one of them, You Rih Hong, by Jing.  You Rih Hong told me that there would be no training that day, since they were invited to the premiere of Ip Man 4: The Finale (叶问4: 完结篇; Yè Wèn 4: wánjiépiān, Ip Man 4: Concluding Chapter—oh jeez).  Waking up early in the morning, and wanting something to do for the day, I asked Roland, who was also a practitioner of Yizong (易宗; yìzōng, Changes School/Sect) system of internal Chinese martial arts under Luo Dexiu, himself in turn a student of Hong Yixiang, about meeting with Marcus Brinkman, another senior student of Luo Dexiu, that day for a private lesson, which I originally was not planning on doing, though Roland insisted that I did.  Since my plans fell through, I was now open to the possibility while I was still available.  My previous experience with this system was only through the learning and practice of traditional Gao (高; Gāo) Style Baguazhang, where my Wushu coach would make me do fifteen minutes of circle walking (走圈; zǒuquān, walk circle), specifically tangnibu (趟泥步; tāngníbù, mud stepping/walking, literally “wading mud stepping”) as part of an experimental training program designed for me, which proved to be only partially useful, as well as learning Snake (蛇; shé, Snake) and Dragon (龙; lóng) Palms as a crash course for a seminar hosted by Luo Dexiu at the school of another senior student of his, Robert Levin of Yizong Bagua Pennsylvania Internal Martial and Healing Arts.  Again, despite the last-minute arrangements, Roland was able to connect me with Mr. Brinkman, who arranged for us to meet 10:00am that day at the National Taipei University of the Arts.

As before, my parents and I decided to take a taxi as it would be faster than bus or metro, and walk the rest of the way to find the specific meeting location via Google Maps, as it was too vague for the taxi driver to find.  When I first met Marcus Brinkman, he was very soft-spoken, which would be contrary to the skill and power he would display with me shortly.  The private lesson bounced off my previous albeit limited experience with the Snake and Dragon Palms, based on the theories behind the traditional Gao Style Baguazhang system, including vectors of force that the animals of Gao Style Baguazhang specialized in—horizontal (Snake), upwards (Dragon), downwards (虎; hǔ, Tiger) and diagonal (燕; yàn, Swallow)—as well as opening up the spinal gates (开三门; kāisānmén, literally “opening three gates”—lumbar, thoracic and cervical spines) for cultivating both health and power development, and how these concepts overlapped with Taijiquan and Xingyiquan (形意拳; xíng​yì​quán, literally “shape-will fist”).  Afterwards, my parents and I took the metro to go shopping.  Unfortunately, it was around this time that I would start to feel icky (for some reason, I tend to get sick whenever I spend an extended period outdoors while traveling).

Day 4

On the morning of Tuesday, the 17th, my father decided to take my mother and I sightseeing, first at 228 Peace Memorial Park, and then at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.  During this time, I would begin to feel slightly better (although I always feel better momentarily after I get ready to go out).  Afterwards, we ended up taking a taxi to finally visit the University of Taipei, Tien-Mu Campus to visit the Wushu Team there, as I was told by Yoh Rih Hong previously that their training would start at 3:00pm at the 3rd floor of Shixin Hall.  Given that the campus was supposedly excessively big, and we did not know our way around, we left early to give ourselves time to find Shixin Hall.  I was looking forward to this the most during my visit to Taiwan, and I knew this was going to be the highlight of my trip.  I had seen and heard much of Coach Zhang Shibo and his teaching style, which included the teaching of martial applications to his students, having seen it in a TV news piece about one of his students, former Taiwanese Wushu Team member and Nanquan champion Peng Weiqun, and having heard about it from Jing, and had anticipated seeing what it would be like in person.  In my interview with her, Jing stated, “He…he [is] very awesome.  Um, [it] should [be] said [that] he [is] very…different.  [It] is—I think—I think [it] is…He takes…we are training jìngsài (竞赛; competition) Wushu.  But he uses traditional applications—every action, every move—he is using traditional [Taolu] to tell us, [to conceptualize the] attacking skills—[the] attacks’ meaning [and] shape, to tell us how [to] go—how [to] put [them] in jìngsài Taolu.  So [it] is [to] let us use [our] body [to] go tell [a] story.  With more use—how [to] use your body, and how [to] go—control your body, and use your awareness, [to] go do [each] movement.”

Surprisingly, Shixin Hall was only a couple buildings away from the front entrance of the campus.  From the dark lobby of the ground floor, we took a small elevator to the 3rd floor, where the floor was separated by divider curtains, where different designated sports teams would train, and at the far end of the hall was the Wushu Team, where half the floor was separated between a blue and green carpet.  On the other side of the space were the boxers with heavy bags and a ring, where the adjacent space had judoka and karateka training at opposite sides.  Upon our arrival, a couple athletes of the Wushu Team quickly came by and offered my parents and I some chairs to sit in, without any prompt.  Their practice session started with an informal session of volleyball for warm-up.  Shortly after 3:00pm, I would finally meet You Rih Hong in person, who was not training today due to some personal business (if I recall correctly, it was a performance) he had to prepare for in Kaohsiung, and told me that Coach Zhang Shibo would not arrive until 4:30pm.  We conversed for a short time, where he mentioned he specialized in jian/qiang (剑/枪; jiàn/qiāng, sword/straight sword and spear combined), and we talked about how different the training here under Coach Zhang Shibo was, where he taught martial applications and traditional Taolu as well.  Shortly after, You Rih Hong had to leave, but left another athlete, a shy girl who went by Yi Hui, to introduce me to Coach Zhang Shibo.

After the game of volleyball, the athletes would continue warming up by stretching, and then transition into lines of jibengong (基本功; jīběngōng, basic skills) across the blue carpet.  What surprised me was that the Changquan, Nanquan and Taijiquan specialists each had their own line focusing on the jibengong of their specific styles, all at their own paces.  At some point, Taiwanese Wushu Team member and World Wushu Championships medalist Wang Zhenming, known internationally as Chen Ming Wang, came in and would join the practice himself, and was greeted respectfully by all the other athletes.  Afterwards, the athletes would disperse and get their apparatuses, then spread out across the blue and green carpets, working on small parts of their Taolu.  Eventually, after 4:30pm, Coach Zhang Shibo himself would arrive.  After being introduced to me by Yi Hui, Coach Zhang Shibo went right into coaching his athletes without wasting any time.  His voice booming through the hall, directed at each student he was speaking to, Coach Zhang Shibo, while unsurprisingly strict and critical, was incredibly detailed with his feedback.  He didn’t just flat out tell the student that they were wrong without any explanation.  He got up, and physically showed them what they were doing wrong, and what they should be doing right instead.  At another point, he would also introduce a physical exercise/drill for cultivating waist power and healthy body mechanics, which consisted of standing on the toes of one leg, while opening the hip of the other (similar to how the legs are oriented for a 虚步; xūbù, empty/cat stance in traditional southern Chinese martial arts styles), and then turning the waist towards the side of the opened leg, stating that this was for their good and for the sake of their longevity and health.  This kind of coaching helps to address the criticism of modern Wushu that, as with most competitive sports, it was unsafe as it led to major, sometimes crippling injuries due to the conditioning of unhealthy body mechanics.  Additionally, to my anticipation, he did indeed teach martial applications, not only demonstrating them himself, but having his students drill them as well to understand his corrections of the techniques they were doing.  This also helped to address the longstanding criticism and flaw of modern Wushu that it lacked martial content and depth.  Seeing this all would validate my personal and longtime thesis for most of my write-ups, which was even though modern Wushu is not on the same level as traditional gongfu, it should at least retain some of the depth of its traditional counterpart.  Except this time, it was not just Jing herself, who I previously and erroneously described as a rare specimen of Wushu practitioner, or just my own personal circle of friends, training partners and coaches that happened to share my opinion.  It was an ENTIRE team and its coach who had duplicated this process of development for multiple generations, that embodied and exemplified these values, right before my eyes, not just in my imagination or in my dreams.  Occasionally, a couple of the athlete would come by and talk to me, asking if I was an athlete myself, why I wouldn’t step in and play (haha), and what Wushu was like in the US, and some even offering if I wanted some food!

Finally, Coach Zhang Shibo directed athletes to start doing single sections on the blue carpet at their own initiative, to which he would give his feedback afterwards.  Something I noticed was that in addition to using modern scientific training methods such as bands and kettlebells, Coach Zhang Shibo’s teaching style also allowed his students to communicate back to him to ensure they understood the concepts he was teaching them.  This was not the same as talking back, which can understandably be taken as disrespectful, rather it was communication, which consists of not only relaying information from one party to another, but of reciprocation and ensuring what is communicated is understood, and clearly fostered a positive relationship between coach and students.  Throughout all this, the students themselves were very respectful of Coach Zhang Shibo, standing at attention when he spoke, and even bowing when receiving feedback or giving him their apparatuses for demonstrations or explanations.  This training would go on until the lights to the facility finally shut off at around 10:00pm, and it was shortly after that the practice would finally end, with Coach Zhang Shibo giving the athletes a lecture of the importance of training hard with the correct methods and mentality, and what the meaning of gongfu was, before putting on his jacket, telling me to come play next time as Yoh Rih Hong said I was welcome to, and leaving.  This coincided with what Jing said of her own training experience here, stating, “…[In the] morning go [to] school classes, afternoon go—3:00 pm [in the] afternoon start training, train until nighttime.  [It is] possible to train up until at 8:00 [pm], but after nighttime, we can [continue training].  [We] can all possibly train—very many times [we] can [train] until 12:00 [am].  11:00 [pm or] 12:00 [am] all can be possible [occurrences].”  Yoh Rih Hong himself also stated that they would go until the lights to the facility were shut off, which as I saw, was true.  After the practice, I briefly conversed with two of the athletes, Hong Chongjie and Wu Haoxuan.  When I told them how awesome they were, they were very humble in accepting praise, saying that they could not speak on such things.  They were also kind enough to share some of their knowledge and some of the details of what they had learned today with me, as I did not fully understand via observation myself; they also admitted on their own that they were not necessarily “strong” in the pure muscular sense, but rather that their focus and specialty lied in moving with their core/center of gravity and lower body/legs, which is a given based on how much jumping, kicks, deep stances and running movements are emphasized in modern Wushu Taolu (an observation I previously pointed out in one of my first write-ups for, “Physical Fitness and Conditioning in Wushu: The Sport in The Sport Martial Art”, where I stated that there was a lack of upper body training and more of a predominant focus on the lower body, but such is the reality of modern Wushu Taolu training).  At the end, Hong Chongjie directed me where to go to find a taxi, which was exceedingly kind of him.

Day 5

On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 18th, I went to visit the Wushu Team at the National Taiwan Sports University in Taoyuan.  Jing referred to me one of their athletes and her former student, Chen Dongli, to communicate with and arrange a meeting with.  What Chen Dongli told me was that training would be from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, and that training would not take place at the usual area.  Because Taoyuan was a separate municipality from Taipei, I would be hard-pressed to find a bus or metro that would get me there on time.  Luckily, one of the staff at the hotel was nice enough to arrange for a taxi that allowed credit card payment to come by, as it was a particularly long distance and route (and I didn’t have enough cash on me for a ride to and back).  Regrettably, I arrived late, as the taxi driver and I had trouble finding the location of the training session.  Thankfully, based on Chen Dongli’s messages, I was able to find the exact location for myself, which turned out to be a common gym room.  Because they had just recently wrapped up competition, the Wushu Team’s training was more low-key and focused mainly on strength and conditioning, so I didn’t get to see any Taolu from them, though it no doubt would have been just as impressive as that of the Wushu Team at the University of Taipei, Tien-Mu Campus (Chen Dongli mentioned that they would resume training Taolu next week, but unfortunately I would not be there at that time).  After rotating through squats, the Team would eventually disperse into different exercises on the various weight machines and treadmills.  The Team’s coach, Coach Liu, arrived shortly afterwards and kept me company for most of the session.  When I told Coach Liu that Jing said this was the best place to train Wushu in Taiwan, he humbly turned that praise back to Coach Zhang Shibo at the University of Taipei, Tien-Mu Campus.  To my surprise, it turned out he was also a student of Coach Zhang Shibo at the University of Taipei, Tien-Mu Campus, and had even trained in Sanda prior to that.  What’s more, he even knew Coach Ian Lee, saying that Coach Lee was one of his idols.  Other topics of conversation included the theory behind traditional Gao Style Baguazhang, of which Coach Zhang Shibo also studied and taught Coach Liu, specifically the vectors of force (which goes back to my private lesson with Marcus Brinkman), what exactly was the definition of “traditional” Wushu based on dating the history of Chinese martial arts development, as well as considering certain realities and perspectives when it came to fight training for traditional Chinese martial arts, such as the skill level of opponents, and rules of bouts (for example, Xu Xiaodong’s and Yi Long’s opponents, and being aware of other techniques outside of Wushu such as BJJ [Brazilian jujutsu], which Chinese martial arts does not have).  At the end of the training session, Coach Liu said that I would be welcome here, as Chen Dongli himself earlier said.  Afterwards, Chen Dongli was also kind enough to help direct me back to the nearest metro back to Taipei, as I was unfamiliar with the area.  Unfortunately, my symptoms appeared to worsen on my way back to the hotel, so I decided to stay in the for the night, only coming out for dinner at the hotel.

Day 6

Sadly, my symptoms did not appear to get any better from yesterday.  So, I elected stay in my hotel room for the whole day.  The only time I came out was when I initially woke up for breakfast.  There was so much more I wanted to do and see, but alas, it would be impossible to do it all only in a week.

So, in reflection, have I come out of this trip any different?  Well, not really.  I can’t say that my Beijing-derived accent for Mandarin has disappeared in the short week I was in Taiwan, though to be fair, again, it was only a week, as opposed to my extended 3-week stays at the Beijing Shichahai Sports School during the summers of 2009 and 2010.  Others have been known to stay in China even longer, even months at a time, so this is nothing compared to what I have learned.  However, I can say that I have at the very least been educated during my time in Taiwan, specifically in how different the culture is from what I have learned in mainland China, or at least Beijing.  In general, most of the people that I have encountered in Taiwan were very respectful, polite, and even helpful to me in my experience, and not afraid to strike up a conversation and make friends.  By contrast, most of the people I met in Beijing were sometimes short with me, and only concerned with just doing their job.  This is not to say that there were not open and kind people during my time in Beijing, or that there were not short and impatient people in Taiwan, there certainly were both.  But overall, I have found Taiwanese people to be more receptive.  In particular, the Wushu culture in Taipei seems to be very close-knit, where everybody seems to know everybody and has no qualms with each other, and its connection to its roots in traditional Chinese culture is not only more emphasized here but treated as a given and prerequisite.  Even the common folk in Taipei are very aware of the Chinese martial arts culture in their own environment, acknowledging that it is a hub of Chinese martial arts and a part of their traditional Chinese culture.  All in all, this was an incredibly positive experience for me, and I am glad I at least got to experience everything I wanted to while I still had the chance.  I will never forget what I have seen and experienced, it is something that will influence me and stay with me for the rest of my life.

For general coverage of what I have seen during my trip in Taiwan, here’s a playlist:


Matt began practicing Wushu at the age of 7 under US Wushu Academy, and is a coach of the UMBC Wushu Club. He has held positions in national, international, and local modern Wushu competitions, and is currently training in Sanshou/Sanda, traditional Chen Style Taijiquan and zhanzhuang. He is a former four-time consecutive US Wushu Team member, former Pan American Champion and multiple times Pan American Championships medalist, and is continually trying to improve himself both as a competitive athlete and as a real martial artist. If you have any questions you would like to ask Matt, please email him at