NEW PROJECT: My Month with Master Lu Yi

tumblr_n3bhqhjZ0h1rt7qgbo1_500This month I am starting a project entitled, “My Month with the Master.” In the month of April, I will be taking classes and interviewing Master Lu Yi. Every day I will learn more about the incredible life of Master Lu Yi through a series of interviews, photographs and articles.

I will also be attempting to harness over six decades of circus knowledge to help me work on my acrobatics, Chinese pole, teeterboard and hoop diving, and I’ll try to pass on some of that wisdom to you.

Day 1: April 1, 2014

I knocked on the door to his office, and Lu Yi called out, “come in!” I gently pushed the door open to see him hunched over Xia’s desk, delicately organizing photographs into little piles. I could tell he was excited to share these parts of his life with me.

He met me with his head slightly bowed, his eyes meeting mine over the top of his glasses, and a wide smile on his face. Lu Yi’s handshake is a solid one, intended as both a greeting as well as a gentle test of my hand strength. He tightens his grip, then smiles and nods. “Good.” I guess that means I passed.

tumblr_n3c3w7y6Ir1rt7qgbo1_500We immediately got into discussing the photos, everything from his early days in the circus and his first traveling troupe, his innovative performances with Ke Min Xia, his adventures with the Big Apple Circus and his real pride and joy, his wife, children and grandchildren. He apologized about not having more photos to look at it, over the years they have mysteriously wandered away or were maliciously disposed of.  Truly a tragedy.

Then we spoke of his early childhood in Shanghai, before he joined the circus school. He told me of the hardships in his family, and the lengths he and his siblings went to help their father take care of their family. I was (somewhat) shocked by the lengths he had to go in order to survive, but Lu Yi never questioned it other than a way of life. It was what had to be done.

He was “discovered” while playing with some other kids outside of a performance in Shanghai,  and through a series of introductions, Lu Yi invited to join a neighborhood circus school run by Pan Ying. Lu Yi was a highly motivated child. He wanted to grow up and “be somebody.” He wanted to get away his family away from the life they were currently living. Lu Yi was determined to succeed and told himself he would stop at nothing. He wasn’t like his friends, who frequently slept in or went to bed early. “Everybody has 24 hours in their day…” I reminded him, “It’s how you use them that makes the difference.” He smiled and nodded in agreement. [To Be Continued]


With my ultimate goal of tumbling in mind, Lu Yi and I have narrowed my daily training down to a pretty-strict regimen. It’s even better when half the class doesn’t show up, so I am sharing 90 minutes with one other person. Lots of attention. Lots of reps.

Listed out, this is our acrobatics schedule:

Handstand for balance – 1 Minute

Handstand for balance – 1 Minute

Straddle ups (and hold) – set of 10

Tuck ups (and hold) – set of 10

Lever (right hand, left hand) – alternating for 5 minutes

Handstand Push Up, hold down – 1 minute

Back handsprings – set of 10

Back handsprings – set of 10

Back tucks – set of 10

Back tucks – set of 10

Roundoffs – set of 10

Apparently I have two big problems, and they both involve the same problem on my part. I am not “hollow” enough coming down on my handstand, which in turn, effects my back handspring transition from feet-to-hands-to-feet. This is something I will have to overcome if I want to successfully tumble.



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