Whirling into Wushu
Junior Tristan Kooc had the opportunity to perform his martial art on the international stage.
November 14, 2022
As the judges watch on, junior Tristan Kooc performs flips, twirls, and various tricks at the center of the stadium, en route to winning big at the 13th Pan-American Wushu Championship (PAWC) held in Brasilia, Brazil, between July 21 and July 25. Kooc, who began participating in the sport when he was two years old, won two gold medals and a bronze.
“I definitely feel that I did pretty well. [The results] made me feel pretty confident, although my one bronze did make me feel a little sad, but I shook off that feeling pretty quickly. I did exceed my expectations going into it, though, since I usually go into competition not expecting much, so that when I do well I can feel more confident about how I did,” Kooc said.
In order to qualify for the championship, Kooc attended the United States National Team trials, which were held in Lubbock, a small town in Texas.
“We all had to perform a routine, and then they would choose the teams based off of that. They picked two people from each age group and gender, and I was fortunate enough to be selected for my age group,” Kooc said.
In the Works
Wushu, translated literally, is a combat art. In competition, wushu requires proficiency in a variety of skills, since there are a number of different events that individuals can take part in.
“I would describe [wushu] as kind of a mix between kung fu and gymnastics, at least for what I do. There are other versions where people use staffs or swords or other things, but nowadays I stick to doing [the routines] without them. It’s essentially a series of flips and other martial arts moves. You basically perform a routine, which is a set of moves that has martial arts combined with flips and other tricks that are supposed to be performed in a certain order,” Kooc said.
Despite over a decade of experience performing wushu, Kooc maintains that his key to success in the sport remains the same: practice.
“After school, I would go to my facility and start training, just spamming flips and making sure I could do all of my moves without making any mistakes. I practice pretty much every day for about two hours. Improvement is pretty slow, but it’s a long process, and you just slowly get better over time,” Kooc said.
Kooc plans to continue competing at international tournaments next year, including a potential competition visit to China. He says that his expectations going into next year may be a little different, however.
“My expectations for next year will depend on how much I train and how much I seem to be improving, but I’m still hoping to make the team again,” Kooc said. “My ultimate goal is still to go to world championships and win there. It’s a high goal but it is what I have wanted to accomplish for a long time.”
On the other hand, due to factors such as his health and time, Kooc is unsure about his future in the sport of wushu after his senior year. Whatever the limiting factors may be, Kooc shows a degree of optimism about how he will be able to continue on.
“I’m not sure how long I can continue [to do wushu]. Unfortunately, I’m pretty injured right now, especially with a couple of knee issues. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do it while I’m still injured, but I really want to do it for as long as I can,” Kooc said.