Articles - 10th Pan America Wushu Championships in Costa Rica - Wushu Discovers the New World
Costa Rica, nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, is famous for its lush rainforests, dramatic volcanoes, exotic wildlife and now, perhaps, for wushu too. Last September 5-7 in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, hundreds of wushu athletes from North, Central and South America gathered for the 10th Pan American Wushu Championships. Organized by the Federacion Wushu Kung Fu de Costa Rica, and led by Victor On and his tireless and dedicated team, the championships were the biggest and most successful ever. The USA won the biggest total of medals at 62, Canada's winning number was 47, and Brazil clocked in at 37, while taking the top number of sanda medals, 6 of them gold. Participating countries included Argentina, Barbados, Bermuda, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The opening ceremony in the Gimnasio Nacional de Costa Rica was attended by officials from the Sports Ministry and local sponsors. Along with enthusiastic athletes and spectators they were treated to a dazzling display of Costa Rican dance and celebratory speeches before the action began. On one side of the gym taolu athletes flew across the carpet. On the other side the full-contact sanda fighting on the lei tai platform kept it coming fast and furious.
Ian Lee, USA Sanda Team coach, was deeply encouraged by the progress sanda has made in Pan America. “Fighters from the Americas,” he says, “have stayed true to sanda by focusing on the basics, especially the takedowns, to win the matches. I think Peru has the toughest fighters. One of the best fights here in Costa Rica had to be USA (Alex Cisne) vs. Brazil. The fight showed a lot of skill, and control, and showed the methodology of the sanda way. Cisne was competing in the last sanda fight of his career -- - and was the first time that a competitor has won 3 gold medals in 3 consecutive showings. So it was really a special day for him.”
The taolu carpet was also filled with action, speed and high athleticism. More “A” level athletes competed, perhaps in anticipation of the following year’s World Wushu Championships, but also due to the fact that PAWF has built this event up to true international standards, thus attracting some of the hemisphere’s top talent. This in turn improves the experience and skill of all athletes, whether from “A,” ‘B” or “C” categories. Costa Rica also proved to be ideal geographically as an easy midpoint for travel between North, South and Central America’s 23 federations. Many Pan America athletes have known each other for years, literally growing up together as wushu athletes at various events spanning Canada to Argentina. The boisterous after-tournament party at the hotel swimming pool amidst tropical flowers and trees renewed old bonds of friendship and helped create new ones.
The President of PAWF, Anthony Goh (who is also Executive Vice President of IWUF), enjoyed talking to athletes, watching the competition, and taking in some delicious Costa Rican cuisine during the event. He remarked, “PAWF has been growing rapidly in the last few years, as indicated by the extended 3-day competitions, a day longer than two-day events in the past. Also, the level of competition has consistently improved. Victor On and his team hosted a very wellorganized championships. It was excellent! And in my mind, it was one of the bestorganized PAWC in the last decade that I can recall. I hope this event being held for the first time in Central America will help to spur the sport of wushu around the region, especially in Central America and the Caribbean.”
The Pan-American Wushu Federation (Federacion Panamericana de Wushu - PAWF) is the official continental representative of IWUF. It unites wushu in North, Central and South America. Events in the hemisphere echo with animated converstions in Spanish, English and Portuguse, but everybody speaks the language of wushu. Created to supportand develop wushu in the Americas, PAWF was formalized in Baltimore during the 1995 World Wushu Championships. Presently, 23 member countries of the Federation include Argentina, Barbados, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad/Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and the U.S.A. PAWF is pleased to announce that in 2016, the 11th Pan America Wushu Championships will be held in Lubbock, Texas, USA. The USAWKF is looking forward to a stellar event, and warmly invites everyone to attend. Look for more coverage of wushu in Pan America in the upcoming second issue of IWUF’s official magazine, Wushu.