Interview with USA Wushu Team at Taipei Universiade

Taiwan News interviews the Team USA Wushu athletes competing in the Taipei Universiade

USA Wushu forms athletes, coaches, and head coach Sifu Bryant Fong (4th from right). 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The modern sport of wushu (武術) is making its debut at the 2017 Taipei Universiade and Taiwan News interviewed the USA Wushu Team athletes as they prepared to battle for gold and glory for team and country. 

As part of the USA Wushu Team headed by Sifu Bryant Fong, the Wushu Taolu (forms, 套路) squad is comprised of four athletes, two men and two women, and in addition to Fong, is also coached by Yunjian Zou and Eugene Moy. The athletes representing the USA, having been selected from the best competitors at national trials held at the 25th Annual Chinese Martial Arts Tournament (CMAT) at UC Berkeley in March, are: Emily Fan, Wesley Hawkeen Huie, Benson Lin, and Jessica Yin. This is the first time the United States has fielded a wushu team at a summer Universiade, the largest multi-sport in the world besides the Olympic games. 

The term wushu literally means martial arts (武術) and can be used in Mandarin to apply to what in the West is known as kung fu (gongfu, 功夫), but in international sports competitions, it is a contemporary Chinese martial art that combines elements of performance and martial arts techniques. It evolved from traditional Chinese Martial Arts in the mid 20th Century in China as a national unified system of movements, forms, styles, weapons, and Sanda (free style fighting) for international sport, and in the 21st Century has continued to increase in athleticism with the inclusion of nandu (難度, difficulty movements).

The inclusion of wushu as an official sport at the 2017 Taipei Universiade is major step forward for the sport worldwide, and the fielding of a team of American athletes in the sport at these summer games is a big boost for its status in the United States. Head Coach Fong and the other Team USA coaches expressed their optimism that this event is good stepping stone to the integration of wushu into future international sports competitions. 

Emily Xingyu Fan


Age: 19
College: University of California, Berkeley
Major: Economics, minor in Computer Science
Hometown: Chantilly, Virginia
Years of wushu experience: 12
Martial arts school: O-mei Wushu Kung Fu Center, Fairfax, Virginia

How did you get into wushu?
"My parents signed me up for a class at Chinese school. One of the teachers saw I had potential and recommended that I train at another school. The wushu community is small, but close knit and that has been the biggest thing that has kept me around."

How are you preparing for the competition?
"This competition has been difficult to prepare for because now that I'm in University, balancing school and training has been really difficult. But in preparation, I've been trying to use all the resources that I have. At my school there isn't a carpet to practice on, but going to the gym, running, going on the bike, and walking through my forms outside in any space that I can find, is pretty much how I've been preparing for this competition."

What does it take to be a champion?
"Hard work is the main thing to become a champion. Hardwork, and passion for what you're doing, because you can put in all the work you want. but if it's not something that you truly truly want or am passionate about, it's not something you're not going to be able to obtain."

Fan's spear performance on August 28:

What's your favorite move and why?
"My favorite move is call the tornado kick splits. It's move I've always had in my forms since I was a kid and it's something that's fun for me. You jump up in the air, kick inside and then land in the splits."

What do you think about Taiwan?
"I love it. It's my first time here, actually. I haven't been able to explore a lot. I really want to go to the night markets to get food. So far I really like it, even though it's so humid."

What's your favorite food in Taiwan?
"I had soup dumplings today, they're really good. Taiwanese food has been really good so far."

Wesley Hawkeen Huie

​Age: 20
College:Virginia Commonwealth University
Major: Biology, minor in Chemestry
Hometown: Alexandria, Virgina
Years of wushu experience: 12
Martial arts school: O-mei Wushu Kung Fu Center, Fairfax, Virginia

How did you get into wushu?
"When I was a little kid I loved to watch Jet Li movies and I used to jump around on the bed all the time. I'd pretend I'd be fighting 50 guys. When I got older, my parents took me to O-mei Wushu Kung Fu Center, and ever since I've been in love with it. 

How are you preparing for the competition?
"For this tournament, I prepared a little differently than others I've prepared for. For this tournament, I was at school while preparing and I was also doing RA training, so I had to get up early in the morning to get my hours in. I didn't have a carpet to practice on, so I had to train on turf field. It was a lot of watching my own videos and seeing what I could fix by myself."

What does it take to be a champion?
"Believing in those around you, listening to what they say, Take what they say to heart and trust in what they are teaching you."

What's your favorite move and why?
"Jump outside kick. I feel like whenever I do that move and land it solid, it makes me feel really good inside."

What do you think about Taiwan?
"I haven't had a chance to explore it too much yet. It's pretty nice. It's a great city, it's really beautiful."

What's your favorite food in Taiwan?
"Dumplings."

Anything you want to add?
"I'd like to give out a big shout out to my mom and my dad for supporting me for 12 years and my master, Lu Xiaolin and my coach Yunjian Zou."

Benson Lin​


Age: 19
College: University of the Pacific, Stockton, California
Major: Health Exercise Sport Science
Hometown: Cupertino, California
Years of wushu experience: 13
Martial arts school: 

How did you get into wushu?
"Wushu since I was 6, but tai chi specifically, I've been training for almost six years. I practice mainly Chen Style and Yang Style tai chi. I mainly compete in the nandu forms, the modern tai chi forms. From watching YouTube videos of a Taiwanese master, I was surprised to see that tai chi is not just for health but also beauty."

What does it take to be a champion?
"First off, you have to believe you can be one. If you don't, there's no way for you to become one."

Benson's tai chi sword performance on August 27:

What's your favorite move and why?
"I don't think I have a favorite move, but what I do like about the nandu tai chi I perform is that it includes not only slow but fast movements. The fast movements, regardless of whether it's a punch, a kick, or jump, attract more people to the form that the athlete is performing." 

What do you think about Taiwan?
"Besides being hot and humid, overall it's really good. All the people are really nice. The workers and volunteers are all working really hard to make sure this place is safe and to make sure the athletes are really enjoying this place."

What's your favorite food in Taiwan?
"I have few. I went out one day outside the village, and I really like Xiaolongbao, I believe in English it means some sort of soup dumpling. Inside it's very juicy, it's made out of pork, it's only a bite size, and when you eat it, it's really sweet."

Jessica Yin

Age: 18
College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
Years of wushu experience: 12
Martial arts school: United States Wushu Academy, Gaithersburg, Maryland

How did you get into wushu?
"In the beginning my parents signed me up at Chinese school. I practiced at the Chinese school for two years and then I decided to move to the main academy to train because the coach kind of like me. I kept going on with wushu and I started to like it, and that's when I started to seriously practice it. It keeps me in touch with the culture because I'm born in America but my parents are from China.Practicing wushu allows me to participate in a lot of different cultural activities like Chinese New Year performances and I like that art that is in it too. And it's not a contact sport, which is what I don't really like."

How are you preparing for the competition?
"I first get there and stretch and wrap all of my weaker parts because you get injured a lot. We do some warming up, running, and then kicks, and then forms, which in my opinion is the hardest part."

What does it take to be a champion?
"To be a champion you have to persist in what you're doing. Doing your best. Always trying to break your limits. Persevering, even though it might be really tough, but that's the only way you will improve yourself."

What's your favorite move and why?
"I like the back sweep because it feels really good when you make a full circle and you don't mess up."

What do you think about Taiwan?
"I really like it. It's really cool. We went to the night market and the shopping mall. I really love the food and the people. It's really hot here."

What's your favorite food in Taiwan?
"The food here is really light, which I really like. It's not super heavy and it's to my taste. The other day, I went to a restaurant with my family and I had some chicken soup that was really good."