in December 2008, Coach Zhang Guifeng led two USWA students to the Second World Junior Wushu Championship in Bali-Vanessa Loza, winner of the gold medal for Broadsword in the first day of the competition in the 12-and-under age group
(Group C girls) and Samantha Tsen, who was awarded certificates for two events in the 13-15 age group (Group B girls). A team of 12 kids, including Vanessa and Samantha, represented the United States in the week long competition, which gathered approximately 500 children from around the world. Vanessa's outstanding performance energized the entire US team, which in addition to the gold, brought home two silver medals, one bronze medal, and the certificates. This is the best performance for the US team in the international Wushu championships since the last silver medal awarded in 1988 to yet another student of Coach Zhang. In 2005 Joana Pei, aged 15, competed at the World Wushu Championship where she came in 5th place, receiving a certificate.
The Academy's success in international competitions points to the unique backgrounds and methodologies of our Coaches. 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.
Before her marriage and residence in the US, Coach Zhang had been a Wushu champion in China and subsequently, upon retiring as a competitor, trained members of the Wushu A Team in Beijing. As all top coaches in China, the government provided her 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 members, who will live and train from then on together in the Wushu federation training facility six days a week. In this total immersion environment, the coach becomes in effect a substitute parent, taking care of every aspect of the student's daily needs, in addition to Wushu training.
Coach Zhang has a unique record in that, while working with the national Wushu Team in Beijing, she led her group from junior D Team level to the top A Team in just three years. Performance results, measured in the number of medals won in competitions, are paramount in judging and rewarding Chinese coaches and their teams. Moreover, competitions are strictly regulated by the Chinese government and the coach's overall performance is determined from the set number of government-approved competitions scheduled in a year. In the case of Coach Zhang's team, 90 percent of her beginning D Team members qualified for A Team, in contrast to the usual 30 percent success rate in other teams. In further recognition of her high level of excellence, the Chinese Wushu Team has a standing, open-ended contract offer for her to come back and teach there again, if she so wishes.
Dedication and commitment to the art and the Academy's children have guided Coach Zhang in her approach to teaching classes and training students for competition. Vanessa started Wushu lessons with Coach when she was seven, and three years ago she began training for competition. She prepared all year for the team try-outs in June of last year, and then was put on a special program designed by Coach Zhang to ready her and Samantha for the Bali championship. However, they started training in the standardized routine, which is required of all competitors, just two months prior to the competition because Coach Zhang felt that the routine might become boring and mentally tiring for the two girls.
Following on the success in Bali and the USWA standing in the top ranks in the US and worldwide, Coach Zhang envisions new approaches and programs that encourage the Academy's children to excel and achieve their personal goals and aspirations as athletes, Wushu artists, and happy, healthy youngsters.
?2009 U.S. Wushu Academy