Interview with Shifu

Recently, good friend and owner of GOSU Institute of Chinese Marital Arts, Master Ching Yin Lee, asked to do a short interview with me.  To keep the format simple, we exchanged 10 questions.  It was a lot of fun to think about a lot of these things.  Hope you enjoy it!

Ching Yin Lee: “Why do you train?”

Shifu Lucas: “ Martial Arts make me happy.  As an exercise in physical, mental and spiritual discipline it’s very rewarding. This paired with continued growth, and the bonds formed with teachers, students and training partners makes for an incredible journey.”

Ching Yin Lee: “What's the biggest sacrifice you’ve done for practice?”

Shifu Lucas: Practicing several hours a day, every day, I’ve sacrificed an incredible amount of time and energy.  Injuries, minor and major are a constant reality.  This list includes fractured vertebrae, broken ribs, stiches in my hand, stiches in my elbow, black eyes, califlour ear, and countless sprained ankles and pulled hamstrings.  However they’re all worth it.  The only thing I’ve sacrificed that I feel bad about are the relationships.  Being so focused on my own pursuits, I have been selfish at times and not been available in relationships when I was younger.  I have learned from those experiences and I’m working harder to balance things for the people important to me. 

Ching Yin Lee: “What's your ideal breakfast?”

Shifu Lucas: My daily breakfast is my ideal breakfast.  It includes 1 cup coffee (just cream no sugar), 1 cup tea (green or black), 2 whole eggs (organic/pasture raised) + 3 egg whites, 1 slice of bacon (natural/uncured) and a cup of oatmeal with banana, blueberries and strawberries.  Plus fish oil.  The only thing I’d add to make it better is some sliced avocado.    

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Ching Yin Lee: “Who's your martial arts hero?”

Shifu Lucas: To quote Joe Rogan “Be your own hero”.  I believe strongly in this.  I am my own hero.  I see myself as the hero in a movie and make myself do exactly what I’d hope “my hero” would do.  I’m my own biggest critic but also my own biggest fan! 


Ching Yin Lee: “What's your favorite movie?”

Shifu Lucas: I grew up watching all martial movies from the old school Shaw Brothers, to Jackie Chan and Jet Li. I loved Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme as much as Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung.  If I had to pick one movie though, I would have to be Rocky!  I loved Rocky’s sincerity and grit.  Knowing he wasn’t the most gifted but that he had heart, plus the incredible training montages and soundtrack make for a timeless film that still inspires me!
 


Ching Yin Lee: “Who was your most influential teacher?”

Shifu Lucas: I have trained with incredible coaches in China during the 4 years I spend with the pro teams there.  However, I would have to say my most influential teacher was Lu Yu Zhi- my 师母 “ShiMu”!When I first began Wushu in the US, I started with my Shifu Jiang Jian Ye.  After about one year of teaching me, his wife claimed me as her own.  He would teach me something and she would come over to say it was wrong and that it should be like this or that.  They’d argue in Chinese until he left.  For the next several years I would arrive to class early to study Chinese with her, then take class.  After class, I would do a private lesson with her.  She was kind to me.  She’d give me a snack if I looked tired, or a massage if I was hurting.  But when it came to training, she was very strict.  Nothing was ever good enough.  She had an incredible way of teaching. Though she couldn’t demonstrate certain moves, her spirit would radiate through her eyes and she could always get the point across.  I was very fortunate to have her in my life. 

Ching Yin Lee: “What's your best teacher moment?”

Shifu Lucas: Martial arts is my path for the human experience.  It’s the totality of the experiences that make the journey so meaningful.  I love seeing my prodigy students excel and accomplish things I myself was never capable of.  It gives me great joy to be a part of their success.  However, there is another side of this that has had a huge impact on my life.  It includes the phone calls from a high school student who’s is going through a difficult time and turns to me as a friend and mentor, and providing safe place and being supportive figure in the life of another student who is dealing with psychological issues, and the impacts of medication has on their system.  The list goes on and on.  Being a part of their journey and trying my best to better their experience has had a profound impact on how I pursue my role as “Shifu” or “Teacher-Father”.  It is a title that I am trying to live up to.

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Ching Yin Lee: “What keeps you motivated to train today?”

Shifu Lucas: I like to say “Dedication is greater than motivation”.  However, I am incredibly motivated.  I truly love martial arts in all its forms.  From forms, to striking and sparring, weapon applications training, to internal arts, and grappling, there’s just so much to learn.  I truly dream of being a great martial artist and helping others accomplish the same.  The harder I train, and more I learn, the better I teach and the more meaning I draw from the entire experience.  It’s a beautiful cycle.         

Ching Yin Lee: “What’s your advice for young practitioners?”

Shifu Lucas: Follow your passion!  Try different teachers, different schools and different styles if you’re not sure where to start.  When you find what you are looking for, dedicate yourself to it.  The thing that holds most people back from achieving their true potential is their inability to truly commit.  Be obsessed.  If you can access that hungry mindset, nothing can stop you from achieving greatness.  Read books and magazines, listen to podcasts and watch movies and documentaries.  Learn from your older classmates.  Most importantly, listen to your teacher.  Most likely your path will not be linear.  It may take you in unexpected directions.  Stay focused and keep growing.  Your journey will be uniquely yours, enjoy it!      

Ching Yin Lee: “How have your friends and family supported your training?” 

Shifu Lucas: First and foremost I have been incredibly fortunate to have a family that has supported my entire pursuit.  Without their support I doubt I would be where I am today, relatively accomplished in my art, and dedicated to helping others through it.  My parents drove me an hour (each way) to practice growing up.  They encouraged me, researched and paid for me to travel to China.  (I spent about four years in China between my seven trips, which began when I was fifteen years old).  They supported me in getting my Master’s in Chinese and they even supported me spiritually and financially to open my own marital arts school.  My parents still support me, teaching me how to do better business, and more importantly be a better person.

Additionally, my wife has also been more supportive than I could have ever imagined.  Not only does she allow me an incredible amount of time to training and teaching, she has also been incredibly supportive spiritually.  Her belief in the value and meaning of what I offer stokes my flame and gives me the courage to do what I’m doing with greater conviction. 

Friends have been an equally important part of this journey. Most of my closest friends I have met through martial arts.  We share more than just a common interest.  The real reason for our friendship is that they tend to be equally focused, driven and passionate.  I draw a lot of inspiration from their successes. 
 

 Thanks for the thought provoking questions Ching!  I look forward to sharing your ten questions with everyone next! 

Thanks for the thought provoking questions Ching!  I look forward to sharing your ten questions with everyone next!