For authors, 'Sleeping Tiger' was 13 years in the making

Liu Yu and one of her students, Dawn Cerf, have co-authored Lu's biography, 'Awakening the Sleeping Tiger.'
Liu Yu and one of her students, Dawn Cerf, have co-authored Lu's biography, 'Awakening the Sleeping Tiger.' The Tribune

Longtime friends Liu Yu and Dawn Cerf share such a strong bond that they think of each other as “sisters.”

They’re the authors of “Awakening the Sleeping Tiger: The True Story of a Chinese Professional Athlete,” a book chronicling Liu’s journey from shy student to acclaimed martial arts teacher and coach. She and her husband founded the Wushu Taichi Center in San Luis Obispo in 1992.

According to Cerf, “Awakening the Sleeping Tiger” was inspired by a school trip to China in 1996.

After visiting Liu’s former hometown and hearing stories about her life as a professional athlete, “I just thought, ‘This is so interesting. I want to know more,’” said Cerf, a student at the Wushu Taichi Center since 1994.

Although initially reluctant to talk about her past, Liu decided to open up for the sake of her 17-year-old daughter, Han Ling Petredean. “I wanted my daughter to know my life,” Liu said.

The two women worked on “Awakening the Sleeping Tiger” for 13 years, Liu sharing stories as Cerf transcribed hundreds of hours of taped conversations. They self-published the nearly 400-page book last year.

“Awakening the Sleeping Tiger” covers a turbulent period in Chinese history, beginning with widespread poverty and civic unrest in the years following the Great Chinese Famine and ending with massive government crackdowns in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989.

Due to the serious subject matter, Liu and Cerf took precautions to protect the people mentioned in the book -- such as changing some of their names and publishing the book in English, with no Chinese translation.

“I didn’t want to be responsible for (Liu) not seeing her family again,” Cerf added.

Liu and Cerf will discuss “Awakening the Sleeping Tiger” on Feb. 26 at Outspoken Café, 1422 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo. The event runs 1 to 3 p.m.

The book, which will be read in April by San Luis Obispo discussion group Book Finders, is being sold for $20 at Outspoken Café, Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay and The Novel Experience in San Luis Obispo.

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