Hi, I'm Lucas Geller, the new Wushu (Chinese Martial Arts) instructor at the Chinese Community Center (CCC). Since I am new to CCC, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself!
Chinese Martial Arts are the passion of my life. It has shaped my interests, the course of my education and is now my full-time profession.
Let me take you back a little - I began martial arts training when I was 5 years old. Eventually, I gave up martial arts for other more traditional sports like soccer and hockey. One day, digging through a box of old toys, I found my old video collection. I watched the action and the heroes who trained their bodies to avenge their masters and uphold justice with flying kicks. Once again I became completely enthralled. I just needed a Shifu (Master), and then, at age 13, I was ready. That year I found Shifu’s Jiang Jianye and Lu Yuzhi at the Capital District Taiji and Kungfu Association of New York (CDTKA) in Albany. It was at this time that I found my life’s passion- Wushu!
Every day I began waking up earlier and earlier to run, stretch, and practice all the moves I was learning. By age 16, I was waking up at 3:30 am to begin each day with 2 hours of training before school began. After school, the training continued. It was a dedication few others could understand but I was consumed by Wushu. When I wasn’t practicing, I was reading a book about martial arts or watching a kungfu movie.
In high school, I had the opportunity to take a trip to China and travel with my Shifu Jiang Jianye. We visited the Shandong professional Wushu team and even went to the mecca of martial arts- the Shaolin Temple. However, the trip did more than open my eyes to martial arts in China. I was also able to see the country and learn about China through my teacher’s experiences growing up there. My interests grew, and I then wanted to read every book about China. I wanted to know more about the history, literature, and food.
My teachers had recently emigrated from Shandong, China and found it more convenient to give commands in Chinese. In order to better understand why they were always yelling at me, I asked my mom and dad if I could learn Chinese. My parents who understood my intense devotion fully supported my efforts to learn more. I then began to take Chinese lessons with my teacher before practice. After practice, I would take another private Wushu class. It would make for a very long and exhausting day, but I couldn’t have been more excited by it all.
Fast forwarding 10 years, by the age of 26, I had spent almost 4 years in China training at such institutions and professional Wushu teams as the Beijing Sports University, Beijing Wushu Team, Shandong Wushu Team, Sichuan Wushu Team and Nanjing Wushu Team. During this time I competed and earned medals at numerous national and international martial arts tournaments.
In 2007, I became a member of the USA Wushu team. The following year I represented the USA and won a silver medal at the 2008 Pan-American Wushu Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2009, I earned my Master’s degree in Advanced Chinese Language and Culture from The Ohio State University.
Graduating school, I moved to Washington, DC to take a job with a defense contractor. I decided that I had I wanted to learn more about martial arts outside of Wushu. I began training in Judo, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiujitsu. I spent every evening at the practice and everyday day dreaming about practice. I wanted to focus at work and live a “normal” life, but I couldn’t get over martial arts. It was still all I thought about, everything I wanted to do.
It was only so long before the day came when I seriously asked myself the question - if martial arts are my life, then why should I limit myself to doing them in my spare time when I can make them my profession and do them full time? Could I be a Shifu and share with everyone my love for the arts? Knowing what martial arts meant to me, my parents encouraged me to follow my heart. With their encouragement and my teachers support, I had everything I needed to take the road less traveled, to devote myself to the martial arts professionally and to share with everyone my life’s passion- Wushu!
This article was recently featured in the Chinese Community Center's newsletter.