Special Feature: Interview with Grandmaster Rich Hodder

(Denver, CO) – According to a rough estimation from publicly available Kukkiwon data, about 10% of martial artists have currently reached the rank of 1st degree black belt. Of all the black belts, about 3% are ranked 4th dan and above. Of those, only about 1% have reached the rank of 9th dan. That means that our of everyone doing Taekwondo, only 0.0025% (about 1 in 40,000) have achieved this rank. 9th Dan is also the last rank generally achievable through ordinary means. The 10th dan is usually reserved for special situations such as founders of a style or heads of a major governing body or international sports federations and is often granted posthumously.

 

Left to right: GM J. R. West, GM Rich Hodder, GM Sean Cavins, Dr. He Young Kimm.

Left to right: GM J. R. West, GM Rich Hodder, GM Sean Cavins, Dr. He Young Kimm.

Colorado is very fortunate in that one of our own instructors was recently promoted to 9th degree black belt. COMANews sat down with Grandmaster Rich Hodder for this exclusive interview.

 

COMANews: Please give our readers a ‘cliff’s notes’ summary of your background.

GM Hodder:  I began training in TKD in 1964 in Arvada, CO with Mr. Fred Criswell as part of GM Chuck Seriff’s organization, which at that time was called Western Tae Kwon Do Federation, a precursor to the United States Taekwon-Do Federation. I was awed to have General Choi, Hong Hi sitting as a judge at my first test for Gold Belt. When that school closed I began training at Cho’s Tae Kwon Do (Karate) School under Grand Master Ki Sun Cho. GM Cho was one of the first 9th dans certified by the KKW. He was also a member of the famous ROK Army Tiger Division. After GM Cho had a severe car accident his nephew (a former ROK Army Green Beret) Master Tae Ro Cho took over the school instruction. He was my instructor until his untimely death. Master Newby and I inherited the school in 1984 and continued to operate and learn about the business of Martial Arts. I have had the great honor of having schools in Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Oak Creek, CO, as well as in Houston, TX. I am now teaching at Sahn Taekwondo of Carbondale with Ms. Cedar Rose and under the direction of Grand Master Sean Cavins.

I competed in Taekwondo for 30 years, retiring from active competition in 1994 after having won 13 State and two National Championships. I continued to coach competition TKD until about 2007 having trained 100’s of athletes to the state and national championship level.. I have held the offices of Athletes Advisory Council Chairman, Vice President, Secretary General and several other Chairmanships within the Colorado State Taekwondo Association.

For the last 17 years I have been the Executive Director of Taekwondo for the United States Korean Martial Arts Federation and along with GM Cavins have been nominated to join the advisory council of the United States Taekwondo Grandmasters Society.

Over the years I have studied many different martial arts and hold dan rank in Judo, Shorin Ryu, Shin Goju Ryu, Kali and Hapkido.

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Back row left to right: GM J. R. West, Master Stacy Towar, Ms. Lisa Bleiler, Ms. Stefanie Updegraft, Mr. Dylan Badiga, Master Mike Newby, Ms. Cedar Rose Guelberth, Dr. He Young Kimm, Master Instructor April Jazwierska, Master Chris Rock.
Front row: GM Rich Hodder, GM Sean Cavins, Mrs. Mary Cavins, Master Georgie Martinez.

COMANews: You’ve been training in martial arts almost 50 years. What kind of changes have you seen since you started and what things have stayed the same?

GM Hodder: There have been quite a few changes, some good, and others bad.

The best change in the arts, being, research using modern scientific methodology within Kinesiology, Anatomy and Physiology, along with more open mindedness regarding training with other Masters of the arts to better improve performance. The worst change being the modern marketing methods being adopted by commercial schools and the subsequent lack of hard, thorough training in order to make a dollar at the expense of traditional values and etiquette.

COMANews: Who are the most influential instructors who have helped you along the way?

GM Hodder: That is a long list, a shortened version would be: GM Ki Sun Cho, GM Sung Dal Cho, Master Tae Ro Cho, Shihan Frank Goody, Dr Vthor Braun, Master Larry McGill, Master Sean Cavins, GM J. R. West, Dr. He Young Kimm and of course Master Mike Newby.

COMANews: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a white belt on his first day?

GM Hodder: The best advice I could give a new white belt is: Try to learn something new every day, just one thing will do, but learn it well and make it yours. Also, after each class write down what you did in class that day, who taught, your impressions, etc. in other words keep a journal of your daily experiences in Martial Arts. If you do that and continue to find a reason to come to the next class rather than an excuse to sit on the couch, you will have an incredible resource of motivation and a history of the improvement you’ve made along the way.

COMANews: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a student who is preparing for this 1st degree black belt test?

GM Hodder: Don’t over train. We have all seen the Black Belt candidate that hurts themselves right before the big test; we used to call that “Brown Belt-itis”.  Learn to trust what you know and have faith in what you have been taught. If you were not ready for this test, your instructor would not have recommended you for testing. Remember, your instructor is being evaluated by his/her seniors on the quality of his/her students.

It is also useful to remind students at this level that they are now just beginning their journey in the martial arts. Many think that Cho-dan means First Dan, in reality it means “beginning level” and should be thought of in that way.

COMANews: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone who currently owns a martial arts school?

GM Hodder: Advise for current school owners is simple: Continue YOUR martial arts training while you teach your students, continue your academic education, and by all means stay faithful to the tenets of TKD. Your reputation is invaluable; don’t do anything to tarnish it or Taekwondo. Remember every day what it felt like to be a beginner, and make sure you keep a student’s mind set.

COMANews: What are your most fond memories from your training?

GM Hodder: My fondest memories of training are of my classmates and friends. Like many high ranking martial artists I am not, nor have I ever been an extremely social person. That being said, I have been most fortunate to have had absolutely fantastic instructors and even more fortunate to have acquired the best and truest of friends through the martial arts.

COMANews: The Rocky Mountain Taekwondo Retreat recently completed its first successful year. Please tell us more about this event and how our readers can participate next year.

GM Hodder: The Rocky Mountain Taekwondo Retreat was a great success in 2013. The aim of the Retreat is to remind adult students and Masters why they started training and to show them that TKD is not just a sport or just for kids. Taekwondo is a life study and activity. Our goal is to re-introduce some of the martial and spiritual aspects of the “art” of TKD that the sport side seems to have weakened.

We will be conducting our next Rocky Mountain TKD Retreat in July 2014 and already have people from Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and Colorado signed up to attend. You can go to www.rockymountaintkd.com and visit our Face book page for more information. I would also like to thank those people that are such an integral part of our success. A big shout out to Grandmaster Sean Cavins, Master Mike Newby, Master Georgie Martinez and Master Instructor April Jazwierska, and a huge, huge thank you to Ms. Cedar Rose for not only teaching segments but for coordinating the entire event.

COMANews: Please tell us more about the US Korean Martial Arts Federation. What are the benefits to being involved with this group?

GM Hodder: The United States Korean Martial Arts Federation (USKMAF) grew out of a need to inspire and improve the study of Korean Martial Arts in the United States. It started over 20 years ago with Grand Master J. R. West’s (the first non-Korean to hold the rank of 1st Dan in Hapkido and currently 9th dan certified by the Dae Han Kido Hae) vision of helping students of the Korean Martial Arts (KMA) to have access to qualified resources and individuals to help them improve and advance the virtues of the KMA’s. It is an organization free of political turmoil and is dedicated to the advancement of the overall quality of instruction of the Korean Martial Arts in the United States. We hold bi-annual (twice yearly) seminars in Jackson, MS where you will find 7th, 8th and 9th degree black belts on the mat training alongside all levels including white and yellow belts, without egos, haughtiness or bravado, just sweating and slamming with the greatest of comaraderie.  If you would like more information the website is www.hapkido.com or you can contact GM West at 601-856-8487. Dr. Kimm is one of the only men ever to have attained the rank of 10th dan through the Dae Han Kido Hae and 9th Dan through the Kukkiwon. He just finished an extensive study of Taekwondo and published a book aptly named “Taekwondo History”.

COMANews: What does Taekwondo mean to you?

GM Hodder: That Sir is a huge question. Let it suffice to say that I cannot separate myself or the core of my being from that of Taekwondo. The statement that Martial Arts and being a Dan level student of the Martial Arts is not something you do, but rather something that you are, is indeed true. Taekwondo has literally saved my life in more than just a physical sense and I will continue to be a beginning student of Taekwondo for the rest of my life.

COMANews: Anything else you would like to add?

GM Hodder: As Martial Artists, especially Taekwondo-in, keep a humble attitude and a modest bearing. Train your students to walk that same path. Train them and yourself as if your Instructor were watching. Honor your lineage. Keep the tenets close to your heart and mind, and never do anything that would bring dishonor to Taekwondo.

COMANews: Thank you for your time and insight, sir! Once again, Chook Ha Hahm Nida! from the entire Colorado Martial Arts Community.

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Colorado State Team Finalized

CO State Pomsae Team

CO State Pomsae Team

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CO State Sparring Team

(Henderson, CO) – The Colorado State Taekwondo Association held its annual team trials on August 17th, 2013. Athletes from many schools came to face off for positions on team for both the sparring and poomsae events. As has previously been the case for the state team, some divisions were extremely competitive with national team members going for spots, while some spots were left vacant.

The state team will practice together every few weeks in preparation for the 2014 US Open Taekwondo Championships. Future practices will likely be open to other interested black belts for a small fee. The team will also probably host an open training session to give back to the grassroots elements of Colorado Taekwondo.

Sponsorships, team uniforms, and other information will be given later.

Below are the official results from www.cotkd.com

2013 COLORADO STATE TEAM
SPORT POOMSAE TEAM MEMBERS
Divisions Female Male
Ages 12 – 14 Taylor Altman Anthony Hicks
Ages 15 – 17 Nikita Karamian Jeremiah Moran
Ages 18 – 29 Kinsey Musso Ashish Banerjee
Ages 40 – 49 Angela DeOliveira Steven Humphries

 

SPARRING TEAM MEMBERS
Divisions Weight Division Female Male
Youth 10 – 11 Fin MaryPaige Spennicchia Gabriel Godoy
Light Grace Kosloski Eric Rodriguez
Middle Vacant Xavier Mony
Heavy Vacant Vacant
Cadet 12 – 14 Fly Catherine Calingo Joshua Kosloski
Feather Vacant Nick Fenton
Welter Xiomara Rodriguez Jairo Baltazar
Middle Isabella Carrera Artur Ayzenberg
Heavy Vacant Vacant
Junior 15 – 17 Fly Vacant Isaac Vigil
Feather Angelica Nunez Cole Broche
Welter Nikita Karamian Alex Litz
Middle Tia Day Jacob Gonzalez Jacobi
Heavy Madelynn Gorman-Shore Vacant
Senior 17 – 32 Fly Fabiola Duran Anthony Genella
Feather Holly Spease Ahmed Alsubaihawi
Welter Heather Gibson Sir Salonis
Heavy Vacant Cameron Weber
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Colorado State Open Martial arts Tournament Sept 28, 2013

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This tournament will be open to all Martial Arts styles with competition in Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do, Karate, Kenpo and Kung Fu. We will have divisions in Breaking, Traditional Forms, , Weapons forms, Olympic Sparring, Weapons Sparring, Point Sparring and High Jumping Kick (new). 

Schedule of events:

FRIDAY Sept 27
6:30pm REFEREE CLASS AND COACHING PASSES
SATURDAY Sept 28
7:00am JUDGES MEETING
7:00am REGISTRATION OPEN
8:00am OLYMPIC SPARRING
10:30am BREAKING {all}
11:00pm WEAPONS FORMS
12:15pm LUNCH BREAK
1:00pm OPENING CEREMONY
1:30pm WEAPONS SPARRING
2:00pm BLASTER PAD
2:30pm TRADITIONAL FORMS
3:00pm POINT SPARRING

Link to our website:

http://www.denvermartialartsevent.com/2013CSO.html

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The Princess and the Ogre: Martial Arts Based Nursery Rhymes

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Click on the cover image to purchase the book on Amazon.

Book Review: The Princess and the Ogre: Martial Arts Based Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales for Children of all Ages.
You will find many familiar versions of nursery rhymes, filled with Martial Arts kicks and twists in The Princess and the Ogre. Your kids will love hearing and reading it, and you will enjoy it as well. Don’t miss out on reading your favorite tales like This Little Piggy, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.
The creativity in the book is great and the moral lessons of the stories are not just fun to read but educating at the same time. The authors do an impressive job reminding children through the nursery rhymes, that Martial Arts is not just about hard work, structure and dedication but that it fun as well.
Be sure to get your copy of The Princess and the Ogre for your family today. Please remember to do so before September ends. ALL Proceeds of the book, during the month of September will be donated to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
The Pottle family searched high and low in old dusty libraries to read and rediscover original martial arts based stories, to compile the creation of The Princess and the Ogre: Martial Arts Based Nursery Rhymes.
Bill Pottle has written various books over the last few years exploring magic and science. He has also written several books about Martial Arts and the instruction of Martial Arts. More information can be found on all the Pottle Books at: http://www.amazon.com/Bill-Pottle/e/Bo4H6YoAE

Review by Cherise Scrivner

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Traditional TaeKwon Do Alliance 2nd Annual Tournament

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Traditional TaeKwon Do Alliance 2nd Annual Tournament

Northglenn- On Saturday September 7th, Northglenn High School home of the Norse, held the Annual Fall Tournament for the Traditional Taekwon Do Alliance, in loving and honoring memory of General Choi Hong Hi.

The energy was resilient and you could feel the passion in the gym of those competing no matter what their age group. The push and strive in the pee wee’s and juniors never seems to amaze the people, the indulgence was evident on their faces.

The event sponsored by The Elston Group and Big Frog Custom T-shirts and more; welcomed Taekwon Do schools from various parts of Colorado. Daily competitions included color belt sparring and patterns as well as Black belt sparring and patterns. Pee wee’s, juniors and adults all joined in the gym for one of the seasons beginning competitions.

The gym was filled with passionate traditional Taekwon Do student practicing forms and sparring techniques. Sweat dripped down the faces of those that won and those that lostthat competed no matter the outcome of the tournament held their heads tall and competed for the mere enjoyment of participating in such an honoring event.

Mike Wyatt, Student at the Pam Wa Nabi Do School of traditional Taekwon Do competed as a blue belt in sparring on Saturday. Although Wyatt lost in the first round he smiled, maintained amazing technique and fought strong. Wyatt went onto spar in the 2nd rounds in attempt to win 3rd place.

Master Saboonim Kevin Fitch of the Pam Wa Nabi Do School of traditional Taekwon Do, sat on the side of the match encouraging Wyatt’s techniques and cheering him through till the end. The love Master Saboonim held for his students was recognizable. Win or lose, his students all received big bear hugs following their matches.

Although Wyatt did not win in the 2nd round of adult sparring event he talked about how he was focused on his technique and working on speed as well as control. He had fun and learned from the event which was most important.

Wyatt joked that he was sparring with too much power for this particular event, “my tap can be too strong,” he said. Wyatt’s kicks and techniques looked outstanding and it was present that the Pam Wa Nabi Do School of traditional Taekwon Do has been training hard. Wyatt said, “We used to train at Westwood College Westminster, at the moment we don’t really have a place to train, were just practicing here and there. We are currently trying to find a school.”

The talent and passion the Pam Wa Nabi Do School of traditional Taekwon Do withholds was inspiring. No place to train, and still showing up to the tournament looking stronger and more zealous and determined than ever. Without a doubt they deserve a tangible place to practice and call their home, their Do Jang.

 

 Back ground of General Choi Hong Hi

General Choi Hong Hi was born in 1918, in one of the roughest areas of North Korea. Although Hong Hi became well known in the world of traditional Taekwon Do in his adult years, he was not as disciplined and wise growing up as he later became to be. He lived a tough childhood repetitively in and out of trouble, eventually forcing his parents to ship him off to school.

As Hong Hi grew older and WWII ascended, he was forced to join the Japanese Army and was shipped back to North Korea to fight in WWII. In the midst of WWII Hong Hi was accused of being the head developer of the Korean Independence Movement, also known as the Pyongyang Student Soldiers Movement. He was confined to prison for eight months while undergoing a pre-trial investigation. Hong Hi made the most of his time in prison and focused on the art and pleasure of solitude. This opened the doors to his adoring passion for traditional Taekwon Do.

Following his release from prison, Hong Hi received the opportunity in 1947, to teach Korean and American soldiers in North Korea the art of Taekwon Do. It was the first time in history that Americans were introduced to the martial art form of traditional Taekwon Do.

http://www.tampataekwondocenter.com/biography-of-general-choi-hong-hi

 

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ALL TKD Wins Silver for USA

Microsoft Word - Team 2013.docxProud to be representing the USA and bringing home the Silver Medal from World Competition in Seoul Korea, the Academy of Life and Leadership Taekwondo Competition Team (ALL TKD) is rich with the feeling of success. After traveling to California and achieving 1st place in Nationals, and then winning 1st place at the U.S. OPEN Hanmadang this year, they were enthusiastic about their chances of winning an international medal. Olympian Barb Kunkel, Coach Kristi Glaze, and Coach Scotty Glaze saw the team gain recognition in Korea World Competitions in 2011 and 2012. They watched heads turn and crowds cheer at those extraordinary performances, which won Silver and Bronze.

As competitors poured in this year, world-class athletes, coaches, and judges looked for ALL TKD again, knowing they would present even more difficult combinations of taekwondo, gymnastics, and board breaks while dramatically portraying a story to their audience once again. While carefully chosen music stirred strong emotion, new choreographed moves and actions spoke a clear message of “We Can Change Fighting to Friendship.” The crowd responded with cheers of excitement as the climax of the story line unfolded and fighting was replaced by peace. By using team insight and intelligence to incorporate acting skills into their over-the-top performance, they not only convinced the judges that they are a winning team, but they broke the language barrier and sent an  important message to the World.

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2nd CTA Mile High Open Taekwondo Championship

Official Tournament Poster

Official Tournament Poster

Master Andre DeOliveira and CTA would like to invite everyone to our 2nd CTA Mile High Open Championship on October 19, 2013.  If you register for this event by September 20, 2013, you will receive a discounted rate of $55 for first event and $10 for each additional event.  We will be using Daedo for all sparring matches!  Please go to http://www.ctaacademy.com to register.  Please send any questions to Master Andre at [email protected].  Hope to see you all there!!

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Colorado Results from 2013 World Championships

(Puebla, MX) – The 2013 World Taekwondo Championships drew almost 1000 athletes from more than 150 countries. Each Member National Association (MNA) is allowed to enter a maximum of one person in each weight division. There are 8 divisions for men and 8 form women. Depending on the country, these spots are highly contested for up to a year and a half before the event. See our report on the basics of the tournament. 

Colorado had three athletes competing – Ahmed Alsubaihawi (58 kg Iraq), Khusrav Giyosov (68 kg Tajikistan) and Alisher Gulov (87 kg Tajikistan). Colorado Martial Arts News has been following their training and preparations over the last several months and was there as they stepped onto the mat.

996501_562721413792906_1464633469_nAhmed Alsubaihawi was up first, on Monday July 15th. He was training to compete in the bantamweight category (63 kg) but was told by the Iraqi Federation a few days before the tournament that he had to change to the flyweight category (58 kg) as there was another athlete who was higher ranked in 63 kg. Alsubaihawi lost the required 5 kg and made his weight, but his strength was affected. He faced from Domeneco Gemma from Italy. Alsubaihawi started off well, leading the match throughout. He lost a point to a cover punch when attacking from closed stance, and later changed his attack to ax kick. The resulting photo was picked up by the official World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Facebook page and widely shared. Gemma scored a headshot at the beginning of the third round, and Alsubaihawi was too fatigued to catch up. He ended up losing the match 9-11.

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Master Komil giving Ahmed tips before the third round.

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Giyosov about to enter the ring. The livestream was broadcast all over the world.

Next was Khusrav Giyosov on Wednesday, July 17th. He drew Thomas Afonczenko from Australia. Giyosov hit an early spinning hook kick to go up 4-0. They traded points and kyongos throughout, until Afonczenko hit a left leg crescent kick from the clinch with 12 seconds left in the third round. Giyosov had been blocking Afonczenko’s signature move throughout the match, but one slipped in. Giyosov tried frantically to get another headshot, but ended up losing by accumulating too many kyongos.

 

 

 

 

Gulov signing autographs after his match

Gulov signing autographs after his match

The final Colorado athlete was 2012 Olympian Alisher Gulov who competed in the heavyweight division on Friday, July 19th. Gulov’s first match was against a WTF wildcard from India who scratched. He then faced 2012 African Champion from Egypt, Mohammed Ayman. Gulov looked to be in control early as he hit a nice crescent kick, but his points were nullified and he was called for pushing. The match ended in a tie and went to overtime where Ayman scored a roundhouse to the body. It was a disappointing finish for Gulov, who had made the quarterfinals in the last world championships.

There was a large disparity in the funding that many national teams received, with some receiving only the entry fee and many receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars per cycle. The United States team finished the whole tournament without any medals, to the surprise of many observers. Even London bronze medalists Terrance Jennings and Paige McPherson were unable to gain the podium. The US Team doesn’t receive the same level of funding as many other teams do.

Master Bill Pottle summed up the results for the Colorado athletes. “It was frustrating to lose matches that we know we could have won. In a way this even reminded me of the infamous Broncos/Ravens game. However, that is the nature of sports, especially at a high level. Nonetheless, this tournament was a tremendous experience for these athletes that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

See more about Littleton Taekwondo or Aurora Taekwondo.

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World Championships 2013 in Puebla, Mexico

(Puebla, MX) – The World Championships of Taekwondo 2013 was an experience of a lifetime. Held in the beautiful city of Puebla, Mexico, this championship was very memorable. The city of Puebla did an amazing job of hosting the tournament. Everything was highly organized and well planned out. From the moment teams arrived at the airport,  they were immediately taken care of. Three athletes from Colorado attended. They were Ahmed Alsubaihawi (-58 kg Iraq), Khusrav Giyosov (-68 kg Tajikistan) and Alisher Gulov. (+87 kg Tajikistan)

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Ahmed A playfully spars with Cati, the mascot.

The opening ceremony was incredible. It was evident that many, many months of preparation went into this special evening. For many, it felt like a smaller version of the Olympics that was centered only around taekwondo. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, Cati (the official mascot of the Puebla World Championships) took the stage and showed off her dance moves to get the crowd excited. The ceremony began with a wonderful performance reenacting the ancient Mexican story of Popocatépetl and the princess, complete with a massive volcano and hundreds of skilled dancers. Following this performance, one athlete from each country was given the honor of caring their country’s flag and was accompanied by a woman wearing the traditional Mexican clothing. Two athletes from the Korean Academy of Taekwondo were given this honor. Ahmed Alsubaihawi carried the Iraq flag and Coach Komil Latipov held the Tajikistan flag. With each country announced, the flag bearer’s fellow teammates would scream and do a rehearsed cheer, each one trying to be louder than the team before them. After each of the 150 participating countries was represented, the hundreds of referees carrying the WTF flag entered the arena. The highlight of the evening was the performance by the WTF Demo Team. With amazing choreography and perfectly in-sync, the “Tigers” left the audience in awe after breaking boards held at least 10ft. off the ground followed by a back flip!

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Opening Ceremonies

Puebla was a truly wonderful host city. Each national team was assigned a guide or attaché to help them throughout the week. The Colorado athletes were Team Iraq and TaeTajikistan, and they got the privilege of having two wonderful volunteers, Karen and Dulce. These girls were incredibly helpful and made sure every need  was taken care of – including rescuing a forgotten wallet and passport from the back of a taxi, finding hotels, translating, and leading on a special tour of Puebla. These girls, and all of the tournament staff, were some of the nicest and most helpful people. It was evident that their primary goal was to make sure that the athletes’ and coaches’ only concern was to worry about performing their best. It was clear that this was a very special event for the city of Puebla because they had a large billboard in front of the famous Cathedral in downtown Puebla, displaying a countdown for the number of days until the tournament began. Every day a very long line would form in front of a small trailer set up in the town square that was selling tickets for that night’s semi-final and final matches. People couldn’t wait to watch taekwondo and cheer on their country. Customers could also get a ticket at McDonalds as a treat with their value meals.

komil flag ahmed flag1The tournament venue was also well set up.  The “House of Taekwondo” as they called it had everything needed – a large, matted training area for the athletes (equipped with free Gatorade and water), a healthy buffet just for athletes and coaches, booths for sponsors, and much more! The vendor area was always packed with people buying souvenirs and eating food from the various cuisines available. You were able to get anything from a delicious chai tea latte, a beer from the massive Heineken stand, a McDonald’s Big Mac, or some traditional Mexican mole poblano. They also had different stands where fans could try out their taekwondo skills through interactive video games or BOBs with sensors in them. For  athletes and coaches, the vendor area turned into picture and autograph central. While in the area athletes couldn’t go more than a few minutes without numerous fans asking for pictures and autographs. This was a relatively novel experience, and came from the fact that Taekwondo is the 2nd most popular sport in Mexico.

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L to R – Master Komil, Ahmed A, Karen, Dulce, Sarah A

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Opening Cermony Breaking

One of the most memorable experiences of the tournament was sitting in the stands amongst thousands of Mexican fans to watch Mexico in some of the semi-final matches. The Mexican fans are some of the most patriotic and supportive fans in the world.  Anyone could feel the love they have for their country and for taekwondo. It was an incredible experience to feel the stands shake from the people stomping their feet and cheering as loud as they possibly could. Just a single point and the crowd would go crazy. Many of them had clappers that also aided in the cheering and held up huge Mexican flags.

Going to the World Championships in Puebla will be an experience This reporter will never forget.

To see the full results, visit http://www.puebla2013tkd.com/

You can also see a behind the scenes highlight video.

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Colorado Demo Team wins 2nd at US National Championships

Chicago, IL – After months of fundraising, training, and refining, Universal Tae Kwon Do Team Thunder went to the USAT National Championships where they performed very well.  Due to the scheduling, the demo team competition went late into the night after not starting until after 10:00 P.M.  While exhausted from the day’s events, which saw nearly half the team compete in individual events, Team Thunder caught a 2nd wind and ended up performing what was the best demonstration in their competitive careers.   While it was a very close competition, Team Thunder gladly walked away with a silver medal, in just their 2nd year going to Nationals, also beating their last year’s 4th place finish.  With the amount of hard work and effort they put in, they are truly on their way to doing even greater things.

Team Thunder’s Silver Medal Performance at the 2013 USAT National Championships

In individual events, the team took home 1 Gold Medal and 3 Bronze Medals.   Lucas Perko, who won a gold medal Dallas last year in weapons, competed for the first time in the black belt division, and ended up winning gold this year as well, making him a 2 time National champion in weapons.   Lauren Auten took home a Bronze Medal in Adult Black Belt Grassroots forms, and Nathan Straub, in his first national tournament, took home a Bronze in Blue Belt Forms as well.   Richard Van Horn capped the medal count with a Bronze in Red Belt Adult Fly Weight sparring.

Lucas Perko’s 2013 Nationals Performance.

Every other member of the team who competed in individual events did very well also, but found himself or herself just short of finding a place on the podium.  Most of the forms competitors ended up making it to the final round of very large divisions, showing a huge improvement over last year, and a lot of their board breaking and weapons competitors found themselves in 5th or 6th place as well, proving that for next year they have to put in just a little bit more work to get them on the podium.

Coach Mark Auten told Colorado Martial Arts News: “I couldn’t have been any prouder to coach these students, and to see all of their hard work show.   They represented the school and the state very well this year, and will look to do the same come next year.”

Master Barb Kunkel’s Academy of Life and Leadership Taekwondo team did not attend the USAT Nationals this year, instead attending the ATU Nationals where they placed first.

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