Meet Your Instructor

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Hello, and welcome to the Ways of Wudang! For those of you new to the Ways that I have not had the opportunity to meet yet, here is a short introduction to myself and what brought me to creating this online program.

My name is Jake Pinnick and I am originally from the USA. I grew up in a small town in Illinois. I first came to China for the purpose of studying martial arts at the
Wudang Daoist Traditional Kungfu Academy under the tutelage of Master Yuan Xiu Gang. I chose the academy because of a 5 year traditional program that was beginning at the end of 2009. This program was designed for foreigners to live at the school and train wushu full-time. I had zero previous experience with anything to do with martial arts, qigong, taichi, meditation, or Daoist culture. I was stepping into a new world, but I was very excited to do so. At 20 years old, in 2010, I arrived in Wudang and began my training. I was late to join the program but I trained hard and approached Shifu about joining the program. I was allowed in and I continued my practice alongside my fellow kungfu brothers and sisters until 2014 when we graduated together and finished the program. As I write this at the end of 2021, it has been 7 years since our graduation and 11 years since I first came to Wudang. 

Why Choose Wudang?

My initial reasons for making the journey to Wudang are quite broad but most of them stem from one original reason, to find a way to be in more control of my own health. Of course, there were many other contributing factors as well. I was a young adult fresh out of school who wanted to travel, see the world, and challenge myself. I had a fascination with philosophy, kungfu movies, and big life questions. As cliché as it is, there is also the idea of "finding oneself" that played into the dreams I had. However, it all came back to the idea that no matter what I did or accomplished in life, a priority of mine was to stay in control of my own health. 

Wudang Jake

While I may have been interested in the aesthetics of Chinese martial arts, I had never practiced anything or really even had the opportunity to experience them. In high school, the internet was growing and there was a wealth of information that I was able to find for the first time. On a whim, I found the academy and started reading everything I could about these practices that were completely new to me. I found the videos of Master Yuan were inspiring me in many ways and I began to daydream about learning martial arts myself. Very quickly this daydream took precedence in my life and I began researching more, writing emails to the school, and re-watching the videos that were available on Youtube. 

At the time, I couldn't really explain it. There wasn't a tangible explanation for why I chose Wudang. In hindsight, I speak about health practices, and a general interest in martial arts, but it was unspoken at the time. It was more a "Why not?" than a "Why?" at the time. The school seemed to resonate with me. The article explaining the 5 year traditional program was not only exciting but it seemed to fit me at the time. Living in Wudang now, we speak a lot about 缘分 (yuán fèn, affinity or fate) and at times it definitely does seem like there was a cosmic force at play, but this is more of an association or connection that I have come to see. The truth is, I don't why I chose Wudang. I only know that I did and it ended up being the single most life changing thing that I have ever done.

Why create the Ways?

I became a disciple within San Feng Pai in 2012 and this solidified my responsibility towards continuing the transmission of these arts. Since then, it has been an entirely different journey as I learn how to teach these practices while continuing my own cultivation. I taught in the US for a few years until then I returned to Wudang in 2018. I rejoined the school but this time instead of being a student, I entered as a teacher and began leading classes for both Western and Chinese students. The last few years have given me a lot of experience and I find that the more I teach the more that I realize that this is what I am really passionate about. I love being able to share my journey and what I have learned. The most important thing in life is growth, and if I can contribute to that in any meaningful way, however small or large, I will do my best to guide others along the way. 

The Ways are part of a much larger perspective that I have been formulating for a long time during my practice. They are the ways that I breakdown and view my practice. They are the foundations, the pillars, and the steps towards higher levels of understanding. Most of all, they are the ways that I believe we can approach a more balanced version of ourselves. Ways to become better every day. They are each unique in methodology but complementary in practice. We need ways to cultivate body, mind, and spirit. Growth cannot be isolated to one endeavor. A physical practice without philosophy lacks character just as a philosophy without an application is hollow. It is in search of the answers to life's questions that I have designed the Ways as aspects of my own journey that I believe can, and should, be accessible to everyone. Each Way is but one piece of a larger journey to a destination that can be reached by countless other means. What distinguishes the Ways is simply the curriculum. Martial arts practices for the body, philosophical discourse for the mind, and music for the spirit.
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It is my hope that the Ways can each and collectively serve to bring the arts of Wudang Mountain to more people around the world. I was once searching for myself a method that would bring balance to my life. It is my hope that others who are looking may here find a Way.

Jake Pinnick
15th Generation San Feng Disciple
Daoist Name 平懋资根