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'Crazy acrobatics, lots of cool weapons': Phoenix Wushu Nationals brings over 2,000 athletes

Thousands came out to the Phoenix Convention Center over the weekend to attend the nation's largest Chinese martial arts tournament.

PHOENIX — More than 2,000 athletes and participants from across the nation were in downtown Phoenix this weekend for the largest Chinese martial arts tournament in the United States.  

The Phoenix Wushu Nationals wasn't just a place for athletes to compete, but also to make new friends and further their skills.  

“Where Champions Rise” was the theme of this year’s Phoenix Wushu Nationals at the Phoenix Convention Center. 

Men and women of all ages, levels and styles took part in the event. They shared their passions for martial arts, competed in a fair and friendly environment, and of course, showed off the skills they’ve trained so hard to master. 

One area of the tournament featured Chinese kickboxing. 

“It’s a lot of grappling, striking, kicking skills involved,” said Jane Ho, the host. She’s also an athlete and coach. “These fighters, they train a lot to compete here and we’re super honored to have them.” 

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Another area of competition was tao lu. 

“They do a lot of crazy acrobatics, lots of cool weapons,” Ho said. “It’s amazing!” 

In just one year the tournament has become the largest Chinese martial arts competition. 

“This one you see here is all Asian culture,” she said. “We embrace our culture, even though we’re here in America, we want to spread that culture.” 

“We know that that’s what makes America beautiful, because it’s a meld of all the cultures together, and so we’re here representing that,” Ho said.  

Felicia Brenoe is one of the athletes who competed in tai chi and external kung fu. 

“It’s the most beautiful sport,” she said. “I absolutely love this.” 

“I bumped into this as an adult, I was almost 30 when I started,” said Brenoe. “I gave myself the splits for my 30th birthday, so flexibility training and so forth, that was really amazing.”   

“It’s a great way to use your body as a grown up, to improve balance, flexibility and strength and to be part of this amazing tradition of Chinese martial arts,” she said. 

World Champion Brian Wang’s ability will take your breath away. Wang recently participated in the World Games in Birmingham, Ala. “I won the gold medal for the USA in my combined event… still surreal today and absolutely an honor to represent my country.” 

So, whether it’s for the mental and physical benefits, the camaraderie, or the competition, it’s always thrilling for everyone who attends. 

“It’s always very exciting for the audience to see those banners drop and to see that we’re promoting the culture of the lion and dragon dance,” said Taran Champagne of the U.S. Dragon Lion Dance Federation. 

It’s easy to see why the event draws such a big crowd. 

“Use the core, use the feet, foot work… everything has to be fast,” said Song Tian Ou, US Wushu team member.

With each routine, you can tell their hard work training is paying off. "Thank you,” he said. 

To learn more about the Phoenix Wushu Nationals click here.

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