A new generation of wushu warriors continues the art form


photo contributed by Shari Tian

Freshman Shari Tian lands in a split on the floor at the U.S. Team Trials.

Throughout the school, there are international athletic champions and ninja athletes sitting in classrooms and eating in the cafeteria. A lesser-known sport in America, wushu is a Chinese martial art and form of kung fu. Similar to gymnastics, wushu athletes practice forms and routines often consisting of jumps and kicks, such as aerials or backflips.

Previous students have left a strong legacy of the sport in the school. National champions Jessica Shyy, Emily Hwang and Kevin Yu have now graduated. Now a new wave of wushu warriors is determined to uphold the name. Freshmen Khai Nguyen, Shari Tian and Angus Chang represent a new generation of martial arts athletes.

“I feel pressured in rising to be the new generation of wushu at Chantilly High School,” Nguyen said. “I feel as if I have to keep the reputation strong.”

All the athletes have been practicing wushu for years and have gained enough knowledge and experience to call themselves “warriors.”

“I have competed in two Junior Wushu Team Trials, one Adult Wushu Team Trials, one Pan American Wushu Games and several more smaller competitions,” Nguyen said. “I intend on competing in the next [United States] Team Trials.”

Nguyen’s teammate, Tian, has competed alongside him for years and has received many honors.

“I’ve earned several awards from smaller wushu competitions, but the biggest achievement I have made was earning a spot on the United States Adult Wushu Team in 2013,” Tian said.

For all three of the athletes, wushu plays a huge role in their lives by being a source of pride and happiness. Wushu is a pastime activity for exercise, but it has also created a love and passion for the sport, which has taught each about motivation and commitment.

“Wushu has been a [huge] part of my life ever since I got into it, [and] I plan to continue all the way to a black belt and maybe join the competition team [one day],” Chang said.

Balancing a challenging competitive sport with the workload of high school is a new challenge for the three students.

“Now that I’m a freshman, I find that it is harder to train as often as in previous years due to the difference in the amount of homework and studying that is required,” Nguyen said.

Training in wushu, just as in any other sport, requires hours of commitment and energy. Practices typically last a couple of hours, varying based on one’s skill level. Athletes first warm up and stretch once they arrive at the gym, then begin basic moves of jumps and kicks. Finally, they move into forms and routines of various skills and movements.

Despite the challenges with adapting to their new schedules, the athletes plan to continue on with their sport.

“Because wushu has impacted my life tremendously, it’s one of the biggest and most important hobbies I have,” Tian said. “Although it is a big commitment, I plan on continuing wushu throughout my high school career.”

For all of them, the passion and love for the sport has never stopped.

“Wushu has taught me the importance of teamwork, confidence, responsibility and patience,” Tian said.

The freshmen have experienced the enormous transition from middle school to high school, and with this change they bring a new wave of talented wushu warriors.

“Because wushu isn’t as well-known as any other sport in America, showing our talent in school as the new generation of wushu can be a big responsibility,” Tian said.