Jackie Wong spins through the air waving a two-foot sword over her head and around her body. A colorful sash unfurls from the end of the handle as Jackie leaps through the air, her bright clothing shimmering in the stage lights.
It’s the final act of the winter dance concert Quantum Leap when the senior shows off her well-rehearsed performance she’s learned through the art of Wushu, a modern form of Chinese martial arts.
These are moments more than 10 years in the making with practice 3-5 days a week for 2-3 hours at a time.
“It’s performance martial arts and it’s very interactive and is a lot like dancing,” Jackie said. “It has some parts that are very smooth and some parts that are very fast and there is a lot of switching back and forth.”
It’s a form of martial arts that is typically passed through the generations, however for Jackie, she made the choice to begin studying as a young child. It’s a passion that she’s nurtured for many years, earning countless medals, and taking her around the world. In December, Jackie brought home two bronze medals, for eagle claw and double straight sword, at a Wushu tournament in China.
“I used to get a lot of gold medals when I was younger but nowadays, I compete as an adult and it’s kind of scary and stressful because everyone is really good and they’re coming from all over the world,” Jackie said. “Being in the competition performing is really the best and the worst because I’m always worried about what I’m going to do, but it’s also the best because I show my style and my form. It doesn’t matter once you get your score - it’s all over and I know I did my best.”
Jackie usually competes in front of hundreds and even thousands of people and typically must qualify for a United States team that travels to other countries to compete.
“There’s a long range of movements and it’s very satisfying to me to be learning how to get better and improving in different areas so that I can grow,” Jackie said.
While traveling, Jackie said she “becomes more aware of what’s happening in the world.”
“I really like what’s happening at Mercy with the social justice teaching because I think it really helps me get a better view of what’s going on in the world,” Jackie said. “In one of my classes, we were talking about how women aren’t as successful in their lives as men because there isn’t that much opportunity.”
Studying the critical concerns helps Jackie to “see things differently” and she expresses her feelings through writing and playing music.
“I like to call out injustices and I just do it because I get to share what I think about the world,” Jackie said. “I don’t really care if many people hear it because it feels good to me.”
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