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The Wushu Stars of FCS

March 14, 2024
By Fremont Christian School

For a school of its size, Fremont Christian offers students a wide array of extracurricular activities, including those in its robust athletics program. But even with so many on-campus options, some students opt to participate in other hobbies and sports. Two such students, senior Howard Kam and junior Elena Chow, have chosen wushu (a Chinese term for martial arts), a sport in which they have proven not just adept but exceptional.

Finding Their Passion

Howard's early exposure to martial arts dramas on a Hong Kong broadcasting station fueled his initial interest in wushu. “The channel had a lot of dramas with martial arts,” he says. “I saw that, and I was like, wow, this is really awesome and super cool."

His parents, understanding his passion, allowed him to pursue wushu at the age of six. Despite the commitment and sacrifices — he currently practices for three hours four to five times a week, including with a straight sword and a spear — Howard finds fulfillment in pushing himself beyond limits. He emphasizes the importance of enjoying the journey, saying, "Winning hasn't been the same for me. What I came to realize was that I have to be willing to push myself in practice and in preparation."

Elena also became interested in wushu at a young age, partly because her mother ran a kung fu school. She began practicing when she was seven, and the physical activity soon became an integral part of her identity. Balancing academics and wushu, Elena highlights the supportive environment at FCS, citing how accommodating and understanding the teachers are as a main reason she transferred from her previous school, which hadn’t been as accepting.

Howard echoes this sentiment, “If, for example, I have a competition, I can ask my teachers ahead of time for assignments, tests, or whatever I need. They’re very supportive.”

Competition Champions

Both students’ dedication has paid off. Howard has competed in several high-profile competitions, including the Golden State International Wushu Championships, Tiger Claw (where he was grand champion), and the prestigious Pan American Wushu Championships, for which he traveled to Brazil and took home the gold.

Elena has also competed in esteemed competitions, including the World Wushu Championships. “I got to see athletes who do this sport for like a living — athletes from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia — who I would normally watch online to get inspiration for my own routine. And I got to compete on the same floor. I just remember it being so surreal because I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, these people do the same thing I do, and I get to see them in person.’” She has also traveled to Indonesia to compete in the World Junior Wushu Championship.

Howard, having competed at national and international levels, underscores the sense of community in wushu. “The people you compete against push you to be better. The community is a big part of what draws people into the sport.”

Elena echoes this sentiment, emphasizing wushu’s transformative power. “It’s taught me discipline and perseverance. It's not just a sport — it's a way of life.”

Big-School Opportunities in a Small-School Environment