Meet Your Instructor
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.
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.