This month at My Metro Medicine, we conducted an interview with a world-renowned martial artist residing in Washington, DC and a man I am proud to call my Shifu (teacher); Master Nick Gracenin.
Master Gracenin is the student of famed martial arts Master Bow Sim Mark and has taught hundreds of students across the world, a large number of which have followed in his footsteps as successful competitors and national champions. He currently manages the DC Tai Chi group as its head instructor in the Washington, DC metro area holding weekly classes across the region at various locations, including federal government institutions. Master Gracenin's expertise, together with his international experience as an instructor, competitor, and high-level judge, have quickly driven him to the forefront of the martial arts industry as a recognized leader positively influencing the view of martial arts in the West over the last several decades. Our goal in interviewing Master Gracenin was to not only open the door to allow you to view his path to success but to offer some inspiring words of wisdom from a man who truly knows through experience what it means to "eat bitter" (吃苦) when it comes to martial arts training.
If you wish to learn more about Master Nick Gracenin, you may contact him via the information available on the DC Tai Chi webpage, or you can find him at the following events:
What is your background in martial arts?
I began training at age 11/12 learning Chinese Kempo Karate. As a teenager I studied Japanese Karate based on Shotokan, and started Chinese martial arts in college. At about the same time I earned my black belt in Karate I was learning Yang Taijiquan and Northern Long Fist. In 1978 my training buddy and I drove from Penn State to Boston after reading about Master Bow Sim Mark in Black Belt magazine. That began my study of Fu style Wudang style and modern Wushu. In 1984, Master Mark invited me to be on the US Team competing at the Wuhan Taijiquan and Jian Exchange Competition. That was my first trip to China, and my introduction to many of the Grandmasters of Chinese Martial Arts. Since then, I have trained with Beijing, Nanjing, and other professional Wushu Teams in China, at the Beijing University of Physical Education, the Chinese Martial Arts Association in Beijing, and with dozens of amazing Masters both in China and North America. I was a member of the US Wushu Team several times, winning 13 medals at 6 World Tournaments. I was elected to Inside Kung Fu magazine’s Hall of Fame as Man of the Year, and named one of “100 people who have made the most impact on martial arts in the past 100 years.” This was a high honor, as the list includes my Sifu, and iconic figures Gichin Funakoshi, Jigoro Kano, Morihei Ueshiba, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Currently, I live and teach in Washington, DC, where I can be near my children and grandchildren.
Who were your biggest influences during your martial arts career?
Of course, Bow Sim Mark, An Tianrong, and my many teachers, mentors and coaches. My start, however, came from my parents, and my support came from my wife Kathy. Without them, I would have nothing.
How has martial arts benefited you throughout the years?
I was a heavy, asthmatic child, so martial arts was the last area in which I thought I might excel. So, training has certainly changed my life, my health, my education, my perspective, my career and given me the gift to follow a dream.
Do you have any training tips for martial artists just beginning their careers?
Be patient, keep both yourself and your training well balanced, and find the best teacher you can.
What are some important elements people should look for in an instructor when choosing a martial arts school?
Credentials and ability, certainly, but also honesty and effective communication skills. If you don’t vibe well with a teacher, how could you really learn?
How do you envision the future of martial arts transforming in the years to come?
It’s hard to predict, but I feel as though we are at a pivotal time for the traditional martial arts. We must change with the times, but wisely, with respect for the past and intelligence for future development.
What advice can you provide to students new to martial artists?
Give yourself and your training some time to develop. Read, study, use the wealth of information that’s freely available so you’ll know better. When you know better, you do better.
What is one of your most favorite styles or forms you continue to practice to this day?
Fu style Liangyiquan and Wudang Sword. Love them and learn from the practice even after over 35 years.
Again, if you are interested in learning more about Master Nick Gracenin and how you can study from him, please visit the DC Tai Chi website.
We thank you for reading this special interview. If you have any questions for us, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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