The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Chang is kung fu fighting with kicks as fast as lighting

When people think of kung fu, they tend to think of the Karate Kid, Kung Fu Panda or the song “Everybody’s Kung Fu Fighting,” but in reality, it is an intense, intricate sport and art form.

Kung fu, or Wushu, is a Chinese martial arts form and the national sport of China. It is a combination full-contact sport, consisting of hand-to-hand combat, as well as a showcase sport characterized with artful movement. Senior Andrew Chang has been studying this art of Wushu since an early age. He has competed in many cultural events and competitions.

“My parents wanted me to take kung fu lessons,” Andrew said. “I got to learn different weapons like swords and staffs.”

Andrew began taking lessons at the age of 6, and made the U.S. Junior Wushu team this past year by placing in the top six at the trials.

Story continues below advertisement

“We started Andrew in Wushu lessons when he was in the first grade,” said Ann Chang, Andrew’s mother. “It was a fun extracurricular activity at Andrew’s Chinese school where he could exercise with friends after sitting in class all morning every Sunday.”

Eventually, Andrew decided to pursue kung fu further, so he decided to enter the Wushu Academy in Virginia to hone his skills.

“I enjoy performing the form because you get to add your own style to everything,” Andrew said.

This past summer, Andrew received his black belt in Wushu after 11 years of training. In order to obtain a black belt, there is a “rank test” that each student must pass.

“The rank test is really challenging, because we have to do four ‘whole forms,’” Andrew said. “It sounds easy, but you have to build up your stamina and your strength, or else it’s really hard to finish.”

According to Andrew, Wushu has two sides: one of technicality and one of style.

While he is proficient in the technical side consisting of flexibility, speed, and power, he still believes he can work on his aerial combinations, consisting of intricate jumps and kicks.

“I think I have most of the technicality down because it just takes practice and repetition,” Andrew said. “But style is unique and hard to bring out.”

Andrew has competed in both local and national competitions from Capitol Classics, an annual martial arts tournament at the National Harbor, to the 2012 U.S. Junior Wushu Team trials, where he placed in the top six.  He placed third for staff and sword, as well as fourth for bare hand.

“The top six places are selected to represent the US in international competition, so I could have gone to Pan-America to compete in that,” Andrew said. “But I had to focus on SAT’s and other school work because it was during junior year.”

According to Andrew, a competition consists of an opening ceremony and a warm-up period where each competitor has floor time. Each competition is split based on age, style and gender, so it allows for fewer competitors in each competition.

“It’s divided by style because some people learn a form to do, but others learn to fight, like in the Karate Kid.” Andrew said.

For Andrew it is not just the art form or the competitions that he enjoys, but also that he has been able to meet new people, make new friends and continue to learn from them by comparing techniques.

“We watch each other’s styles and learn from each other about both technicality and style,” Andrew said. “But we’re also there for moral support during competitions.”

Andrew is planning to pursue Wushu in the future.

“I want to continue Wushu at the college I go to, and I have factored in if the college has Wushu or not into my college searching,” Andrew said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Chang is kung fu fighting with kicks as fast as lighting