CCA student wins two first place awards at tai chi competition

Leighton Hsieh

A Canyon Crest Academy student earned two first place awards in a virtual tai chi competition organized by the International Wushu Federation, which organizes similar events around the world.

“I was pretty excited about that,” said Leighton Hsieh, 16, a junior at CCA. “I kind of thought I wasn’t able to do it after quarantine. I’ve been kind of out of practice for a bit.”

Tai chi, known also as shadowboxing, is a Chinese martial art used for defense, mediation and other purposes. Leighton said he worked hard in the weeks leading up to the competition to sharpen his skills.

“I thought it was a good opportunity for me to show off what I had been working on,” he said.

Leighton said he trains at Hong Wu Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy, run by Willis Lam and his wife Qin Huang.

“Leighton’s always been a really diligent, really hardworking athlete,” Lam said. “He takes training and the competitions very seriously. He’s a coach’s dream student.”

Leighton said he began tai chi about six years ago, when his brother had a violin performance and he happened to come across tai chi.

“At the same time, there was a coach and two of her students also performing tai chi,” he said. “I thought what they were doing was really cool. Six years later, here I am.”

He started practicing and learning some of the basic forms, and has been doing weekly sessions over the years.

“There was a lot of stretching in the beginning because I was really inflexible,” he added. “That was kind of hard to do at the beginning. Stretching is definitely a big part of it.”

Leighton said he’s begun preparing for another competition that will be held in person next month in Phoenix.

“I’m working on some new forms for that one,” he said.