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At three years old, Vincent Meng had one goal: become a Power Ranger.
His favorite TV show inspired him to start martial arts training. He began competing at an early age, earning his junior black belt when he was seven. What started as a way to emulate his television heroes quickly became Vincent’s passion.
“I want to be the best,” he says, “so I strive to take it as far as I can.”
To become the best, however, he had to learn from the best.
The Meng legacy
Vincent had more than the Power Rangers to inspire him. He comes from a family of expert martial artists. His mother started martial arts at the age of five under the teaching of her father, who was a highly recognized grandmaster in South Korea in the art of taekwondo. Vincent’s father began training at age 10 out of his own interest. In 1987, Vincent’s father started Meng’s Martial Arts. Headquartered in Dayton, the network now comprises more than 25 international schools.
It was at Meng’s Martial Arts where Vincent began training. “I’m grateful to be able to carry on this legacy,”he says.
Over the years, Vincent improved and grew his skillset. In 2017, he won his first world championship in kung fu. This lit a fire under Vincent, and he set his goals higher.
Competing on the world level
In 2018, his junior year at the University of Dayton, Vincent belonged to four U.S. national teams, each competing in a different martial arts discipline—taekwondo, kuo shu lei tai (a traditional form of Chinese kickboxing), wing chun, and wushu sanda—balancing homework with teaching martial arts and training every day.
“I remember studying on the plane for my final exams because I was traveling and competing,” he says.
But a packed schedule didn’t stop Vincent. By the end of his junior year, he had won world titles in three different divisions: traditional kung fu, kuo shu lei tai, and wing chun.
An unexpected detour
When Vincent noticed pain in his left shoulder in early 2020, he disregarded it to continue competing. The pain, however, wouldn’t go away.
Vincent knew a serious injury could prevent him from achieving his goals. Not wanting the injury to worsen, he consulted Dr. Blake Daney, an orthopedic surgeon. An MRI showed he had 12 small tears in his left shoulder. Vincent understood that rest wouldn’t fix it. He needed surgery.
Surgery meant stepping away from his passion, but not getting surgery could mean stepping away forever. Dr. Daney, understanding the importance of getting Vincent back in the ring, estimated that it would take about six months for Vincent to make a full recovery.
“He showed not only initial interest in helping me recover,” Vincent says, “but he took an interest in what I do.”
Vincent underwent surgery to repair the tears in his left shoulder, followed by several months of physical therapy. The hardest part, he says, was waiting until he could compete again.
The road to Italy
Vincent was after another world championship, which would be his second title in kuo shu lei tai. The competition was scheduled to be held in Italy in March 2022—exactly six months after his surgery.
“It definitely gave me the hunger to get back in it,” says Vincent. “It was definitely a test of patience.”
Vincent attended physical therapy, building back his strength and mobility. Competing wouldn’t be easy, but it also wouldn’t be impossible—as long as he didn’t overwork his shoulder. To his benefit, the competition dates wound up being pushed back due to COVID-19, giving him two more months to train. Slowly, Vincent returned to his full capability.
In May of 2022, Vincent flew to Italy, competing for the first time in more than half a year.
“Being seven months out, it was like, ‘OK, we’ll see how this goes,’” he says.
After surgery and months of rehab, Vincent won his fourth world championship. “I went in there with a positive mindset,” he says, “and everything worked out.”
One athlete, one team
For Vincent, being a martial artist isn’t all about competitions and combat skills. It’s about life skills—hard work and dedication. It’s about overcoming struggle. It’s about training and growing, trying to do better than the day before. It’s about having the warrior mindset— developing the mental and emotional discipline to succeed in whatever it is that you want to do.
Reaching his goals, Vincent acknowledges, wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the community that surrounds him. His family, team, trainers, physical therapists, and Dr. Daney all helped him become a champion in Italy.
“We always say you walk into the ring as an individual, but getting to that point is a team effort,” he says. “It takes a village. It takes a community.”
And Vincent gives back to his community. As an instructor at Meng’s Martial Arts, he teaches students of all ages and abilities. He also has plans to start a martial arts club at Centerville High School (his alma mater) to introduce students to the benefits of participating in the martial arts.
Vincent’s next challenge
Vincent continues to train and compete. In late July 2023, he will travel to Chengdu, China, with Team USA to represent the U.S. in the martial art of wushu sanda at the FISU World University Games, a large multisport competition second only to the Olympics in size and scope. (Though Vincent has graduated from college, this year’s World University Games extended the age limit to 26 to include athletes who qualified during the three years, 2020–2022, that the games were postponed because of the pandemic.)
With four world titles, Vincent is looking to claim one more: Wushu Sanda World Champion.
“I’ve had the honor and privilege to represent my family, my art, and my country through claiming four world titles in three different disciplines,” he says. “This last world title would allow me to be the first in history to claim world titles in four disciplines.
“I tell my students and everyone around me to always reach for the stars in whatever they may do,” Vincent says. “I want to lead by example.”
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