MARTIAL ARTS: Local Kung Fu practitioners shine at major competition
It was a competition unlike any they had ever participated in before.
The U.S. International Kuo Shu Championship Tournament brings thousands of martial artists from all over the world to Hunt Valley, Maryland for 3 days each July.
The annual tourney is meant to foster unity, friendship, harmony and peace across international boundaries. It also features elite martial artists from a variety of backgrounds showcasing their abilities.
Despite the enormity of the event, the inevitable pre-competition nerves and being more than 2,500 miles from home, local Kung Fu practitioners Kayla Aaron, 11, and Amelia Regan, 11, simply relied on their training and the result was multiple medal-winning performances.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Aaron, who won gold medals in open hand form and weapons form in the 11-12 year-old beginner division. “I was really nervous, maybe thinking about it too much. But, then I went out there, kept going and I got first.”
Regan, who competed in the 11-12 intermediate division, also brought home medals, earning silver in both sparring and open hand forms as well as grabbing bronze in weapons forms.
“I was shocked I did so well, and really happy. I’m pretty proud of myself,” said Regan, who is a blue sash and has been practicing Kung Fu for about 2 1/2 years. “I practiced a lot. Everyday I just did my forms over and over.”
The two young martial artists also teamed up in a two-person forms competition and placed fourth.
Regan and Aaron are both students at Body Balance Academy in Grass Valley and train under Shih Fu Eileen Hancock and Summer Lujan.
“Kayla and Amelia help to define the true purpose of the ancient art of Kung Fu: Virtue,” said Hancock. “These two practitioners exhibit virtue in Body Balance Academy, their schools and in their family life. Kayla and Amelia offer their unconditional support to all of the Kung Fu students and the training. As competitors they are humble, centered and fully engaged in their practice.”
Aaron, who has been practicing for about two years and is a blue sash, said Kung Fu is her passion.
“I had been looking for my thing to do,” she recalled. “I had been doing gymnastics for a while and ballet, and then I found Kung Fu and that’s when I knew it was my passion.
“I enjoy learning how to defend myself and being able to learn an art that is thousands of years old. It’s really an honor to learn it.”
While both Aaron and Regan enjoyed the competition and hope to participate in others in the future, they remain focused on the teachings they receive at Body Balance Academy.
“Kung Fu is definitely bringing out confidence in myself,” said Aaron. “Performing, talking with other people and the Leadership program.”
Regan added, “It’s helped me with confidence, humility and virtue.”
Both Regan and Aaron also assist with some of the kids classes at Body Balance Academy.
“These two young martial artists contribute to the future of this lineage, living on through each of them,” said Hancock.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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