Coach Zhang founded United States Wushu Academy, along with Coach Pei, in 1988. Her wushu training began at the age of 9, when she was selected to join the Beijing Wushu Team. Coach Zhang's professional accomplishments include, eight gold medals in Chinese national competitions, and ranking within the top three athletes on the Beijing Wushu Team. Since then, Coach Zhang received the prestigious "Best Coach of the Year" award from the International Wushu Federation in 1988, and has sent numerous students to national and international competitions.
Coach Zhang Guifeng was born and raised in Beijing. At the age of nine, she was selected to begin Wushu training with theprestigious Beijing Wushu Team under the guidance of Coach Wu Bin, well-known for his outstanding training methods that brought worldwide fame to Chinese Wushu competitors. After successfully completing her one-year probation with the team, Zhang Guifeng proceeded to secure her place in Wushu history. Her speed allowed her to become the first woman to perform alongside the men on the team. At the age of 14, she defeated a 30 year old champion.
In 1975, the Team won the All-Around Championship in competitions across China. This victory brought national renown to the team. During the 1970s, Coach Zhang served as a Good Will Representative of the Chinese Government, and as a member of the China Wushu Team toured Japan, the Philippines, several European nations, and the United States. During this time, Coach garnered eight gold medals in national competitions—ranking among the top three competitors on the Team—and was especially noted and admired for her speed and precision in executing techniques.
Coach Zhang´s great success as a competitor influenced the decision of the Beijing Team administrators to have her start training as a coach. Her coaching suc
cesses are as remarkable as her competition victories. She began coaching at the probationary level and was able to advance her students to an ever higher ranking team, all the way to the top Beijing Wushu A Team—leading them from junior D Team level to the top A Team in just three years. Moreover, 90 percent of her beginning D Team members qualified for A Team, in contrast to the usual 30 percent success rate in other teams. Performance results, measured in the number of medals won in competitions, are paramount in judging and rewarding Chinese coaches and their teams. In addition, competitions are strictly regulated by the Chinese government and the coach´s overall evaluation is based on her or his performance in a set number of government-approved competitions scheduled in a year. As with all top coaches in China, the government provided Coach Zhang with a budget to be spent at her discretion on selecting, training, and maintaining her own team. Normally, once a coach in China selects a team, she or he will sign one-year contracts with each one of the students, who will then live and train together six days a week in the Wushu Team training facility. In this total immersion environment, the team coach becomes in effect a substitute parent, taking care of every aspect of the student´s daily needs, in addition to Wushu training.
After marrying Coach Christopher Pei in the mid 1980s, Zhang Guifeng took residence in the United States, where she continued her coaching career, training the U.S. Wushu Team in 1985, 1986, and 1988. A member of this team placed 2nd in overall international competition in each of those years. In 1988, Coach Zhang received the Prestigious "Best Coach of the Year Award" from the International Wushu Federation. She subsequently took a leave of absence with the birth of her daughters Diana, in 1990, and Joana, in 1992. In the mid 1990´s, Coach Zhang returned to U.S. Wushu Academy and formed 'Team One'—a group of students selected and trained in a manner similar to the way she was trained as a member of the Beijing Wushu Team. In 2003 her daughter Diana, aged 13, made the U.S. Team for the World Wushu Championship. In 2005 both Diana and Joana made the U.S. Team and Joana came in 5th place in the 9th World Wushu Championship in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In December 2008, Coach Zhang Guifeng led two U.S. Wushu Academy students to the Second World Junior Wushu Championship in Bali, where one of them won the gold medal for broadsword in the 12-and-under age group in the first day of the competition, and the other received certificates for two events in the 13-15 age group. This was the best performance for the U.S. team in the international Wushu championships since the last silver medal awarded in 1988 to one of Coach Zhang´s students.
Recently Coach Zhang, along with Coach Christopher Pei, led a USWA team of high caliber trained students to the San Francisco U.S. Wushu Team try-outs. These try-outs followed a new set of strict rules that were written by Coach Zhang and implemented by the U.S. Wushu Team selection procedures. These new rules changed the composition of A, B and C teams and also made the selection process more difficult. Despite stricter regulations, these rules provided a better opportunity for U.S. Team members to win against team members from other countries at the international level. The new regulations also prevented U.S. Team members from competing against one another for the same gold medal and instead dispersed the team members among differnet divisions. Coach Zhang was one of the U.S. Team Coaches selected to participate in the 10th World Championships, along with her daughter, Joana, who was also selected to join the U.S. Wushu Team. This championship was the first time the United States won a gold medal and where Joana also took fifth place in broadsword. In 2010 Coach Zhang again led another team of USWA students to compete at the San Jose U.S. Junior Wushu Team try-outs. At these tryouts, two of Coach Zhang's students, Emily Hwang and Joana Pei, made the U.S. Junior A Team and were selected to compete at the 3rd Junior World Championships held in Singapore, Singapore. Under Coach Zhang's training, Joana continued to place first in barehand and second in broadsword at the 3rd Junior World Championships Emily continued to place Two Sixth in Sword and Spear at the 3rd Junior World Championships.
Coach Zhang brings her superior qualifications and keen eye into the classroom, where students are not only trained in technique, but also nurtured and cared for in a more holistic approach that takes into account their needs, aspirations, and level of physical and emotional development. Dedication and commitment to the art and to the Academy´s children have guided Coach Zhang in her approach to teaching classes and training students for competition. Some of the best performers have started training with Coach Zhang at an early age and then followed a program especially designed by her in preparation for competitions.
Following on the success in both national and international competitions, and the USWA standing in the top ranks in the United States and worldwide, Coach Zhang envisions new approaches and programs that encourage U.S. Wushu Academy´s children to excel and achieve their personal goals and aspirations as athletes, Wushu artists, and happy, healthy youngsters.