Each day around lunchtime you can see WMA’s Teresa Wong pacing briefly to the workout center on the first floor of Montgomery Park.
But it’s not for your normal business day workout. Teresa is one of the country’s top martial arts performers and she is constantly honing her skills to keep her competitive edge within the building during the week and on weekends working with her coach in Fairfax, Va.
Teresa is a member of the U.S. Wushu Team and is the top-ranked female taiji athlete in the country.
The term Wushu is Chinese for martial arts and is both an exhibition and full-contact sport consisting of two disciplines, forms and sparring. In recent years it has become an international sport and the International Wushu Federation holds world championships every two years. Taiji is the slower form of the sport, and Teresa specializes in choreographed straight sword and empty-hand routines.
She first started training in taiji and kung fu as an 11-year-old while living with her parents in Boulder, Colorado. It was obvious early on that her taiji abilities were something special and trumped her kung fu skills. To develop them, however, was more than a little challenging since she lived in an out-of-the-way place like Boulder and had to travel to both California and New York during vacation breaks and work with private instructors to perfect her talents.
All the hard work paid off as Teresa made the U.S. Junior Wushu team and was the national grand champion in 2006. She won more than 20 medals representing the country in China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil. The pinnacle of her career as a junior performer was winning two gold and two silver medals at Seventh Pan American Wushu Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
When it came time for college, Teresa knew she needed to be located closer to one of the coasts for her training. She also discovered that she had a love for environmental engineering, which she continues to this day in MDE’s Water Management Administration.
She enrolled at Cornell University in upstate New York, because of its environmental engineering program, and quickly became enamored with engineering concepts that used gravity in place of electricity to move water through drinking-water treatment plants to serve impoverished Third-World communities.
"I had the honor of going with a group to Honduras and actually implement this concept," Teresa said. "It was a tremendously rewarding experience and I want to do a lot more of this work in the public sector."
While at Cornell, Teresa also helped grow the university’s Wushu Club. She went into semi-retirement from competition after graduating but the lure was far too great for her to stay on the sideline. In 2014 she returned to the competition scene at the First World Taiji Championships in Chendu, China. This year, she will be competing at the Eleventh Pan American Wushu Championships in Lubbock, Texas and the Team Trials for the Second World Taiji Championships in Warsaw, Poland.
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