Striking a balance: Dana Macalanda finds her way through club wushu team

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Oregon wushu club coordinator Dana Macalanda poses with her kwan dao, a weapon meant to be large and imposing, Macalanda likes it because she things it's "cute." (Jeff Matarrese/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Posted by Freelance on Monday, Nov. 14 at 4:21 pm.
Haven’t seen wushu in action? Check out our video on the club wushu team.

Dana Macalanda stands just 4 feet 7 inches tall and equipped with glasses and braces, she doesn’t seem like an intimidating person. But it’s apparent after watching her in practice that Macalanda is a ferocious competitor in the sport of wushu, displaying a flurry of kicks, jumps and punches while racking up awards along the way.

After growing up in Gresham, Ore., Macalanda came to college intending to dive into academics, with journalism as her point of emphasis.

Then, at the urging of her roommate, she looked to join a club sport because, “it would be pretty low key, I could just show up whenever.”

After doing taekwondo for six years, Macalanda first went to a kendo practice, but was turned off.

“It was a little low intensity and very structured,” Macalanda says.

When her roommate showed her a brochure for wushu, Macalanda gave her roommate a puzzled look.

“I don’t know what it is,” she said. “That sounds lame. I don’t wanna do this.”

But despite her initial qualms, Macalanda went to a wushu practice with her roommate and discovered it was not what she thought.

“It was hard,” Macalanda says. “The physical challenge was overwhelming for what I thought a club sport was supposed to be.”

To go along with taekwondo, Macalanda had swam competitively for eight years. However, those sports never fully consumed her attention.

“I could go, work out, shut off and be like, ‘OK, now I’m in study mode,’” Macalanda says.

With wushu, however, she couldn’t shut off right after practice.

“I kept thinking about it,” Macalanda says. “It pervaded everything else … it makes me happy and I always wanna train.”

Through her first year, Macalanda kept going to wushu practices and the sport slowly started taking over her life.

“Even in classes, I was going over the moves and motions,” Macalanda says. “Sometimes people would look at me and be like, ‘Who’s that weird girl and what is she doing?’”

Macalanda’s dedication grew and an inkling curiosity was inflamed.

“In wushu, there are so many different styles and so many forms that you always have an interest to learn,” Macalanda says. “I love the feeling I get after a practice because I have a ton of endorphins and I feel very refreshed. Although I have a busy schedule, I hate missing practice because I love getting that feeling after practice.”

Macalanda has a full schedule indeed, as she is double-majoring in English and journalism as well as being the coordinator for wushu.

“The last two years have been a transitional period of balancing out two things I love in journalism and wushu, and finding a common ground.”

Macalanda’s growing curiosity and dedication has even resulted in her bringing trophies back to Eugene.

Macalanda was first in beginner broadsword in her freshman year at Chinese Martial Arts Tournament and first in intermediate other weapon in her sophomore year. CMAT is the largest martial arts tournament in the U.S., held every year at the University of California, Berkeley.

Because she is more experienced, she has taken over a leadership role on the team, which she relishes.

“I used to be the one that was like ‘Oh I’m sorry, I can’t make it to practice,’” Macalanda says. “And now I’m getting all these text messages.”

Wushu has given Macalanda an outlet to be herself away from class and has rewarded her dedication.

“I have made my best friends from wushu and just become a more well-rounded person,” Macalanda says. “I’m really lucky for that.”