To be good at wushu you need the right techniques and must be strong. But that’s only part of the story. Other subtle details – like facial expression – need to be taken into account, wushu star Marco Lau tells Young Post.
The Independent Schools Foundation Academy student clinched a gold medal in Boy’s C Group Changquan (Long Fist) and a silver medal in Boy’s C Group Qiangshu (Spear) at the 5th World Junior Wushu Championships (2014) in Antalya, Turkey.
He stresses that wushu is not only a sport, but also a performance. Wushu fighters need to be familiar with lots of techniques at a high level, but the look in your eyes can make a difference too. “It all depends on your eyes,” Marco explains. “First, look firm and determined. Show that you treat every movement seriously and sincerely. Second, look energetic and enthusiastic. Wushu is a vibrant sport that requires vigorous movements. Contestants won’t score high if they look distracted,” he says.
For strong form in the Changquan discipline, Marco likes to imagine himself as a mountain to remind himself that every posture needs to be firm and stable. “Shaking will only make you look feeble and tired. For a sport characterised by its power and balance, standing firm is of utmost importance.
“To achieve this, I have spent a great deal of time and effort on building up my leg, back and abdominal muscles. It’s important to strengthen my core and lower body muscles to make my posture solid,” he said.
But what made Marco stand out from the other Changquan contestants in Turkey? He says his strengths are speed and flexibility. “Every movement doesn’t need to be fast, but a sudden increase of punching and kicking speed can create a more dynamic rhythm.
“Rhythm is based on flexibility,” he said. “However, it’s really challenging to master the change of power and speed, from hard to soft, from fast to slow. I practise every single step several times to ensure the smooth movement transitions.”
Marco, also an expert in the Qiangshu technique, pays special attention to how he wields the sport’s spear. “I control the spear, not the other way round. You need to hold it firmly, and don’t let it touch your feet or the ground, “ he says, adding “Although Qiangshu seems to rely on arm muscles, I also focus on stepping movements which lay a solid foundation for my upper body and my strength to hold the spear.”
Despite Marco’s busy training schedule, his school has been very supportive of his sport and has created a personalised study schedule to help him balance practice and homework. “Wushu is huge at our school, so when Marco first started he got a big push from the school,” said Gavin Fausset, PE teacher and Secondary Sport Teams Coordinator at ISF Academy. “Lots of the PE staff helped Marco become very specialised.”
Marco has set his sights on gold medals in both Changquan and Qiangshu at the 6th World Junior Wushu Championships in Burgas, Bulgaria from September 26 to October 2.
What song title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You). The lyrics “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” remind me that I won’t be defeated, whatever difficult situation I’m facing.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I’d like to be a spokesperson for Nike and promote its running shoes. Without these shoes, I wouldn’t have done so well in every training session and competition, especially since wushu requires us to stand firm and jump a lot. The shoes protect my legs, so I have a bit of an emotional bond with them.
If you could have a superpower for 24 hours, what would you choose and how would you use it?
I’d choose the ability to loop time so I could master wushu techniques after repeating a particular training session several times. I wouldn’t get nervous in competitions, either, because I’d be able to repeat them again and again.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
Physical strength, then I wouldn’t get tired and could improve my skills and speed more quickly