Colorado Results from US Open – Senior Divisions

(Las Vegas, NV) – The senior divisions at the US Open Taekwondo championships featured an amazing level of competition. There were dozens of Olympians present as well as those trying to leave their mark on the sport of Taekwondo. Colorado had several athletes take part, and although none walked away with a medal, several sparred well and were able to get deep bracket penetration.

The largest division in the tournament was the men’s bantamweight. There were 95 competitors registered for this event. In a stroke of bad luck, Khusrav Giyosov (KAT- TJK) and Ahmed Alsubaihawi (KAT – IRQ) met in the first round. Master Bill Pottle remarked: “Seriously? Find me something in Vegas that has 94 to 1 odds and I will go bet on it.” Giyosov won the match and then in the next round he lost to a great competitor from Mexico. That competitor went all the way through the brackets and ended up getting bronze.

In the men’s welterweight division SirGregory Salonis (KAT – USA) faced against Mexico in the first round. They had a thrilling match that ended in a 10-10 tie. In overtime Salonis got the golden point to move on to the next round against Lenn Hypolite from Trinidad and Tobago. Hypolite won and defeated several other players to end the day with a silver medal. Farkhod Negmatov (KAT – TJK) won his first match against USA easily, and then fell against 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist and world #1 Aaron Cook (Isle of Man).

In the Men’s Heavyweight division, Alisher Gulov (KAT – TJK) defeated USA in his first match and defeated USA National Team Member Phillip Yoon in his second match. In the quarterfinals he faced Anthony Obame, the 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist from Gabon. Gulov dominated the entire match and was leading throughout when he was disqualified with 1 minute left in the third round. The final penalty was a gam jeong for “Intentional Attack After Kayleo”. However, the referee was doubly wrong. First, she called Kayleo in the middle of an exchange, second, the attack was at the same time as Kayleo, and certainly not intentionally after. His kick is already in the air when she started to call Kayleo. It was a very unfortunate error. After the match Obame went on to win Gold.

In other action, Heather Gibson (Rock – USA) was leading Costa Rica throughout but lost a close match in the waning seconds. Something similar happened to Cameron Webster (JWK/Littleton – USA) who was winning but then lost his match in overtime.

All in all it was a great experience and showed that Colorado Taekwondo is at a level where they can go neck and neck with the world’s best!

You can see all the brackets on the official results page.

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Colorado Elementary Schools League Final Results

(Denver, CO) – Students from elementary and middle schools across Colorado competed at the 2013 Twin Dragons Tournament in order to earn points towards the Elementary Schools League Cup. Competition was fierce across the five events that award students points. Students earned 3 points for each first place finish, 2 points for each second place finish, and one point for each third place finish. In scored events (forms and breaking), students earned 0.5 points for each 4th or lower place finish. In bracketed events (sparring and grappling) if there are between 5 and 8 competitors, all students  who lose the first match earned third place points so that the way the bracket is drawn doesn’t affect the number of points awarded.


The Garcia family earned 7 points for GVA and created one super medal in their first tournament

There were 35 different schools who earned points during the 2012-2013 school year. Last year’s runner up Global Village Academy (Aurora) took the title this year. They had two significant advantages that made them very hard to beat. As the oldest afterschool program, they had more higher belts and were able to compete across a large number of divisions. Instructor Jacob Gallegos spoke to this point when he said “As with all things in life, with experience, comes victory.” They also had a number of students training in the KAT Aurora dojang, which allowed them to enter the most competitors of any afterschool program. Instructor Christina Seraile stated “I think I speak for every instructor who has ever taught at GVA when I say how proud we are of you and how far you have come in your discipline and technique. It’s really been a team effort by the kids, parents, and instructors.”

Last year’s winner Aurora Quest K8 put up a valiant showing, but in the end fell just short. The drama was heightened by a tie on the initial scores for demo team, which would have been a 10 point swing ( – 5 for GVA, + 5 for Quest) if the tiebreaker had gone the other way. Quest was hurt by scheduling conflicts in TDT as well as the Fall Championships, and will surely be a contender for the title again in 2013-2014.


Jibril had so many awards it took two Olympians just to lift him up.

Master Komil Latipov’s Crescent View Academy (CVA) looked dangerous throughout the day, and threatened to take the lead with strong performances in both sparring and grappling. However, they gave up significant points in forms and breaking and didn’t participate in demo, which left them unable to catch up with the larger teams. Still, Jibreal Jones (CVA) won the grand champion belt for overall medals in the tournament.

Sensei Melinda’s Greenwood Options (GWO) students entered the largest team, and won top honors in both breaking and forms. With 28.5 points, their breaking performance was the most dominant of any team in any event. However, having not participated in the Fall Championships, they were starting at a significant disadvantage. Still, they won 2nd at Twin Dragons and 4th overall, a very respectable finish.

High Point Academy (HPA) will certainly be disappointed to drop one spot to fifth, but they did well across many events. It is an honorable finish for a program that is only two years old and they will certainly come back strong next season.


Instructor Harrison’s Northridge Elementary earned their first league points and a 10th place overall finish

The Colorado Elementary Schools League has now had three events, each one becoming larger and more competitive than the last. Instructor Christina summed things up. “I’d like to commend ALL the schools and their instructors. You have done an amazing job to make the elementary school league as strong as it is.

The league goes from Kindergarten to 8th Grade and welcomes students from any elementary/middle school. As with other sports, students compete for the academic school they attend, rather than the martial arts school where they hold rank. Teams interested in joining should comment on this post or contact any of the instructors mentioned in this article.

The League also awards the MVP Award for the student who earned the most points in the five league events (Sparring, Grappling, Breaking, Demo and Forms). Last year’s MVP was Riley Ward (QST). This year the top honor went to Isabella Walsh (GVA) with 18 points, followed by Taylor Altman (GVA) with 16 points and Jibreal Jones (CVA) with 15 points. Let’s give a big “Chook Ha Hahm Nida” to these well rounded martial artists!

The final results for the 2012-2013 League Year are posted below.


Twin Dragons

Fall Championships














Greenwood Options




High Point








Normandy Elementary








Omar D












Colorado Connections




American Academy




Dakota Valley








Aurora Options








Walt Creek MS




Monaco Elementary




D. Green
















Lexi B








Ben Etters




Stott Elementary




DSA (Alex
















Challenge School




Bradford Elementary








Littleton Academy




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2013 Colorado State Taekwondo Championships


Poomsae Competition. Photo courtesy of Kerry Schinderle-Kara


The venue. Photo courtesy of Andre Olivera

(Aurora, CO) – The Colorado State Taekwondo Association (COSTA) held its annual state championships on March 9th at Hinkley High School. Nearly 300 competitors braved the ‘blizzard’ to come and compete with the best from Colorado as well as six other states. Because this tournament was a qualifier for the USA Taekwondo National Championships, competitors from other states could come in order to qualify here.

Competitors in most events had to place in the top 4 in their division in order to secure their spot in Chicago, Il for this summer’s tournament. Due to the narrowness of the divisions, most competitors were able to accomplish this feat.


ALL Team gets ready to perform. Photo Courtesy Linda Kimmich

One of the most anticipated battles of the day was the Demo Team competition. Through the last year (including the US National Championships and the US Open Hanmadang) the team from the Academy of Life and Leadership (ALL) had suffered only one defeat – to Team Thunder of Universal Taekwondo. The ALL Team avenged their loss by turning in a near-flawless performance that showed increasing tricking skills, amazing synchronization, and great choreography that lead to an emotional climax. Team Thunder had a fantastic performance as well, but it seemed as if the mat was too small for their team and a number of small errors doomed their chances to repeat their victory over the reigning national champions. Still, there were a number of flips, 540s, and also a butterfly twist, moves that these teams weren’t capable of two years ago.

Master Andre’s Champion Taekwondo Academy brought 41 competitors on their way to their first School of the Year trophy, unseating 3 time champions KAT, which had to settle for third behind Master Santos’s Littleton Taekwondo.


Master Andre with his CTA Students and the School of the Year cup.



Nikita Karamian with the Top Female Athlete award. Photo courtesy of Kerry Schinderle-Kara

This year COSTA also decided to recognize outstanding performances. Kinsey Muso (Littleton) won the “Outstanding Referee” award while Nikita Karamian (CTA) took home honors for the top female athlete. The top male athlete award went to school owner and gold medalist Bret Mischlich (Martinez/Tri Lakes TKD).


Kinsey Muso receiving the Referee award. Photo courtesy of Kerry Schinderle-Kara

All in all it was a great tournament that went by much more smoothly than last year’s event. Competitors with no one in their divisions had at least one demo match and the overall vibe of the tournament was positive and good natured.

Now the attention of the Colorado Martial Arts Community turns to the Twin Dragons Tournament, which is only 2 weeks away.


Zak from ESA about to land an ax kick during sparring. Photo courtesy Robert Day.


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Colorado Results from US Open (Day 1 and 2)

(Las Vegas, NV) – Colorado students from many different Taekwondo schools converged on Las Vegas to participate in the US Open Taekwondo championships. The event drew 2700 black belt competitors from 75 countries, including 33 of the London Olympians. The level  and difficulty of the event have caused some in the media to say that the US Open should be upgraded to a G3 Level Event, as seen in this full coverage of the results.

Tuesday featured Poomsae competition. The highlight of the day was Master Steve Humphries (Golden Family TKD) who earned silver in his division. Other forms competitors included Dale Zamora (KAT) who placed 21st/23, Angela Olivera (CTA) who placed 10th, Jeremiah Moran-Fairchild who made it to the semifinals our of 54, Nikita Karamian (CTA) who got 16th/51, Alexis Menjares (CTA) took 18th/55. The field was extremely difficult. A former US Poomase Team member remarked “Basically, if you didn’t have a vertical side kick you weren’t even thinking about the medals.” One of the great things about Poomsae competition is that different competitors can perform together in a way not allowed by sparring competition. This video (by M-Team) shows many different teams doing Koryo in the warm up area and gives a good idea of the level of Poomsae competition.

Wednesday featured the 10-11, 12-14, and 33+ sparring divisions. In the 40-50 Welterweight division, Master Ghassan Timani (KAT)  inspired many people by returning to tournament competition after 20 years. He received a tough draw, losing 3-0 to the eventual gold medalist from Germany in the first round. LaRon Younger (KAT) defeated Norway 12-2 in his first match, highlighted by a much talked about butterfly kick to the face. He defeated USA in his second match, losing only to USA in the finals. He ended with a well-deserved silver medal. Melchor Moran (CTA) earned a bronze medal in sparring, defeating his first two opponents but losing his third match. Jeremiah Moran-Fairchild (CTA) lost his first match but did a great job. Isaac Vigil (MYT) won his first two matches, before falling in the semifinals to the eventual gold medalist. He ended up with a bronze medal. Kaitlin Grenning (Golden TKD) defeated PA in her first match, which also earned her a bronze medal.

Wednesday featured four gold medals for Colorado. Angela DeOlivera (CTA) won gold after defeating another competitor from the USA. Madelin Gorman-Shore (The Rock) defeated four Americans in order to claim the 12-14 year old heavyweight division. Grace Kosloski (KAT) defeated four opponents including Mexico, having to come from behind in the final seconds of the final match against Canada in order to clinch gold. Her brother Josh Kosloski (KAT) showed tremendous heart, coming in to the tournament less than 100% and needing to win five matches to clinch gold. He had to overcome many close matches, including sudden death, to be the 2013 US Open Champion. Master Komiljon Latipov said “They represented Colorado and KAT very well and made me so proud! Can’t wait to teach them new things.” 9 News did a story on the siblings’ victory.

All in all it was a great experience for Colorado athletes to be among the best in the world. Although forms ended with only one silver medal, on Wednesday Colorado earned 4 golds, 1 silver, and 3 bronzes. Stay tuned to Colorado Martial Arts News for coverage of the main event – the Adult divisions on Thursday and Friday!

Full results including all brackets are available on USA Taekwondo’s Website. All videos can be seen at the USAT Dartfish channel, for $15 per day of competition.

If any Colorado athletes aren’t included or if any results aren’t correct, please comment below and we will edit the story.

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Pikes Peak Daedo Challenge

Aurora, CO – The Pikes Peak Daedo Challenge was held at Prairie Middle School on Jan 19th, 2013. The event featured 250 + competitors from across Colorado and the United States, as well as national team members from Iraq, Tajikistan, and Estonia. The event was hosted by Master Angel of A-Team Taekwondo and was significant in the number of high level sparring competitors as well as the number and quality of the referees. The event had the feel of a “better version of the Rocky Mountain Open”, an event that was attempted several times by USA Taekwondo but never quite got the number of competitors it needed to survive. There is no doubt that the Pikes Peak Daedo Challenge will continue many years into the future.

A-Team Taekwondo spared no expense in flying in top referees from around the country. The official list of referees included Master John Seiber , Master Seung H Kim, Master Ronald Rose, Master Victoria Serbin, Master Raymond Hsu, Master Mike Wickham, Master Bob Perry, Master Martin Marcus, Masters Linda and Paul Kimmich, Master Robert Mckenna, Master Antoniette Chavez, Master Christine Rose, Master John Connors, Master James White, Master Deb White, Mr Gabriel Vigil, and Mrs Angela DeOlivera.

From the PPDC Facebook Page

The tournament started off in the morning with creative events including forms, breaking, blaster pad, weapons, and group forms. At lunchtime there was a performance from the Academy of Life and Learning Demo Team, lead by Master Barb Kunkel (2000 Olympian). The team is the current US National Champion and placed second in the World Taekwondo Hanmadang in 2011.

Sparring was up after lunch, with the Daedo Electronic Scoring System. After extending her record to 18-0, 12 year old phenon Alondra Gonzalez remarked “This was a really awesome tournament and it was so nice to see friends from many different schools here.Master Francis Esposo from California added: “The Pike’s Peak Daedo Challenge was a highly anticipated event for our team. We were attracted to the event because of the high level of competition the event drew, and the reputation of the highly certified referees who were in attendance. The Daedo Challenge utilized the Electronic Point Scoring System used in the Olympics and International Events. Master Angel Aranzamendi was a very gracious host for the event.


Action in the jr. black belt divisions. Photo by Mansurov photography

No doubt many of the high level black belt sparring athletes were attracted by the prizes, which included two nights shared hotel in Vegas as well as the entry fee to the 2013 US Open Taekwondo Championships. This prize was given out for each of the Olympic weight divisions. The official winners are listed below:

Division Male Winner Female Winner
Fin/Fly Jake Bauman (CO-ESA) Jesse Bates (NM)
Bantam/Feather Ahmed Alsubaihawi (CO-KAT- Iraq) Alyssa Roseman (CO-ATM)
Farkhod Negmatov (CO-KAT-TJK)
Heather Gibson (CO-Rock)
Middle/Heavy Alisher Gulov (CO-KAT-TJK) Vacant Spot

Despite the number and quality of athletes from other states, all but one of the sponsorships went to athletes training in Colorado. Was it the home field advantage, the mile high altitude, or the rising level of Colorado schools and athletes? No doubt the presence of Olympians Alisher Gulov and Farkhod Negmatov helped considerably. You can read more about them as well as the exciting men’s featherweight final in the Coloradomanews article about Master Komiljon Latipov being named Tajikistan team coach.

Master Angel A said that he was “thankful for all the Colorado Masters and Referees who supported this high level event. I want to also thank Daedo Truescore Kevin McCullough for their support as well.”

All in all it was a great event. To see more photos, find out about next year’s event, and discuss with attendees, please like the official PPDC Facebook page at

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Interview with Master Ramil

Colorado Martial Arts News sat down with Master Ramil Abratique from Victory Taekwondo. We picked his brains on his thoughts on the current state of martial arts in Colorado and also his platform. He is running for one of two open Club Director seats on the USA Taekwondo Board of Directors. This is an important position as the board is responsible for overseeing the selection process for various US National and Olympic Teams. Colorado Martial Arts News would be happy to interview any other candidates (including those not from Colorado). Please leave a comment or email [email protected]

COMANews: Give us a little background of your martial arts and business career:

Master Ramil: I started  Taekwondo at the age of twelve (12) and began teaching at the age of fourteen (14) under Grand Master Hong’s (Father of the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) ) dojang The Makati Gym and later on renamed Central Gym. I became a National Athlete at the age of eighteen (18) and retired in active competition at the age of twenty five (25). In my competition career, I retired undefeated, have won seven (7) international medals that include silver in the World Championships and received Presidential, Senate and Congress Awards twice for athletic excellence.  I have also earned my degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

While in the National Team, I was tapped to represent PTA’s grassroots program. I implemented those programs to my town of Carmona where I got elected as Town Councilor and later on became Sports Coordinator for Makati City, the financial district of the Philippines and second (2nd) largest in the country. I have also implemented this program in various provinces of the country. The grassroots program was so successful that it generated thousands of leads for school owners resulting to success of school owners and Taekwondo being the most popular martial arts in the country.

My wife, Caryl Griffith-Abratique and I started Victory Taekwondo Center here in Colorado back in the fall of 2010, the height of the Great Recession. We subleased in a MMA school and moved to our own location in just four (4) months.  We outgrew that location in just ten (10) months and moved to a five thousand sq.ft. (5,000 sq. ft.) facility. We are beginning to outgrow our current facility and are looking for ways to accommodate current and future students.

COMANews: What would you say is lacking the most in the business of the typical martial arts school out there:

Master Ramil: I personally believe that what is lacking is effective marketing strategies and more importantly a strong and solid grassroots program of our NGB.

COMANews: Are USAT clubs fairly typical, or are they different and if so, in what way?

Promotional image from Master Ramil’s campaign

Master Ramil: When it comes to management, each club is different. I strongly believe that the club’s culture reflects the Club Owner’s personality. Some are focused on Life Skills, some are on competitions, some are on traditional Martial Arts and some are a combination of everything.

COMANews:What is the single biggest factor that made your school successful enough to allow you to take on another business endeavor?

Master Ramil: The biggest factor is having a strong family type of relationship between instructors and students.

COMANews: Can a school focus on Olympic style Taekwondo and still be financially successful? If so, what is the secret?

Master Ramil: Yes.  The secret is having a balanced program incorporating Life Skills and Leadership programs.

COMANews: Getting Taekwondo taught as part of the regular curriculum in elementary schools is a dream for most US masters. Tell us more about how you accomplished this in the Phillipines.

Master Ramil: It was collaboration between all instructors and the Philippine Taekwondo Association. We focused on private schools first and slowly penetrated the public schools. At the same time, we used the power of  the media  and created programs for Local, Provincial and National governments as well as the military. It was so successful that we would have Senators as guests of honors in National Championships. As I mentioned on my website:, this is not easy but doable.
COMANews:What differences between the Phillipines and the US would make that more challenging here? (ie, liability, etc)

Master Ramil: Actually, there is not much difference when it comes to liability and etc. It is more of having a strong will to make things happen instead of bickering. We will do the following initially,

  • To have the Club Directors communicate and unite all Club Owners and have one common goal of making Taekwondo the strongest and most popular Martial Arts in the country.
  • To work together on achieving that goal
  • To not have a personal agenda when serving in a position. What I mean with this is that, if the Club Owner sees that the other Club Owner is in a better position to execute a project or a job. He/ She needs to give way for the benefit of Taekwondo

Once this is established we will go straight to work on penetrating all levels of our society.

COMANews: Describe the USAT Board. When is it elected? What roles does it have?

Master Ramil: We are still waiting for the final approval of the bylaws as well as the election date. It should be posted on the USAT website anytime this week or next week.

In essence, the Board of Directors represents the interests of USAT’s membership, the United States Taekwondo community and Taekwondo athletes by providing USAT with policy, guidance and strategic direction. The Board oversees the management of USAT and its affairs, but it does not manage USAT.
COMANews: Let’s cut to the chase. Why should USAT clubs vote for you for club director?

Master Ramil: I am running for the Club Director position not because of the title but because of a great opportunity for me to serve our country through USAT. This is what I did in the Philippines and will be my legacy for Taekwondo.

COMANews:Anything else you want to add…..

Master Ramil: Let’s work together and vote Ramil M. Abratique and Sammy Pejo for Club Director!




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Olympic Athletes Training in Aurora

From left to right: Alisher G,Khusrav G, Daler L, Master Komil L (Coach), Farkhod N.

Aurora, CO – Two competitors from the London Olympic Games have come to Aurora, CO to continue their martial arts training at the Korean Academy of Taekwondo. They are Alisher Gulov and Farkhod Negmatov, both from Tajikistan. It is very difficult to qualify for the Olympics in Taekwondo, as the International Olympic Committee has limited the number of spots to 64 for men and 64 for women. Colorado Martial Arts News sat down with both of them to get to know them better. They were very excited to be in Colorado. Alisher stated that Colorado makes him feel right at home. Not only are the people here very friendly and welcoming, the topography and climate of our state match almost exactly with his home country. In fact, despite Tajikistan being over 7000 miles away, both places are at about 39 degrees latitude.

Farkhod talked about his favorite memory from the London Games. He said that the tournament is fundamentally different from any other he has been to. What was surprising was the differences between the Olympics and the World Championships. In the World Championships, athletes are with their full teams and focused mostly on performance. In the Olympics, however, there are usually only one or two people from each country and everyone is so happy just to be there. There is a lot more camaraderie between athletes from different countries and different sports.

Each country is only allowed to attempt to qualify two men and two women for the Olympics. They also brought their team mate Khusrav Giyosov with them. All three talked about the steps that led to Master Komil being named head coach. They said that they had had several coaches before, but that they were overly strict, inflexible, and formal to the point that it impaired their performance. So they approached the Tajikistan Federation and requested that Master Komil be given a chance as the coach. So far they are very happy with the change. Master Komil stated “Because I used to be a member of this team and have known these athletes since they were young, I feel like I understand what they are going through. This will help me to increase their performance in the 2013 World Championships and beyond.

The Tajiks join Ahmed Alsubaihawi (Iraq) and Joshua Kosloski (AAU Cadet) to make five current national team members training at the Korean Academy of Taekwondo. Master Katie Pottle said “We realize how rare Olympians are in Taekwondo and that Alisher and Farkhod could choose to train at basically any school in the world. We are extremely honored to have them here.” In fact, KAT might be the only school in the country to have two male Taekwondo competitors from the 2012 games training in their school.

Look for more coverage in the future as well as exclusive photos and videos from Colorado Martial Arts News!


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Master Komiljon Latipov named Tajikistan Team Coach

(Denver, CO) – Master Komiljon Latipov’s busy life just got a little bit busier. He already is a PE Teacher at Crescent View Academy, as well as the coach of the Korean Academy of Taekwondo Competition Team. Now, he has been named the Tajikistan National Team Coach for the 2013 World Championships, at which time his contract may be extended depending on the results achieved.The announcement wasn’t entirely unexpected, as the success of KAT and Tajik athletes had already been featured in several news articles.

Master Komiljon was humble but excited. He said “It is always nice to coach high level athletes. Thanks to my country for believing in me!” Although Tajikistan has only 7 million people (as compared to 5 million for Colorado) the country is one of only a handful that qualified two males (the maximum) for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Three Tajik national team athletes were already in Colorado for a training camp to prepare for the upcoming US Open and 2013 World Taekwondo Championships. They attended the Pikes Peak Daedo Championships which had many high level athletes from the US and other countries.

It is clear that there is already good chemistry between Master Komiljon and the team. 2012 Olympian Alisher Gulov won the heavyweight division, while fellow 2012 Olympian Farkoud Negmatov won first place in the Welterweight division. The victories earned both competitors sponsorship to the US Open including registration and hotel fees. Khusrav Giyosov competed in the Olympic Featherweight division where he handily defeated his first two opponents. In the finals he faced fellow KAT athlete Ahmed Alsubaihawi from the Iraq National team in what could be a preview of a match at the world championships. Giyosov was winning 22-17 with only 2 seconds left when Alsubaihawi forced him to take Giyosov’s 8th kyon-go penalty,giving the victory to Alsubaihawi.

Stay tuned to Colorado Martial Arts News for all the latest coverage including interviews with the Tajik team and more tournament results.




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Interview with Master Bob McKenna

Colorado Martial Arts News sat down with Master Robert (Bob) McKenna, one of the pioneers of martial arts in Colorado. Master Bob is a 7th Degree Black Belt and current President of the Colorado State Taekwondo Association (COSTA). We asked him to share insight from his 40+ years of martial arts training and give us a preview of what COSTA has in store for 2013.

COMANews: When did you first start training? What do you remember about the school back then?

Master McKenna: My first training was haphazard.  I boxed in college (1963-5).  Several years later i was in the army stationed in Korea.  I knew very little about Asian martial arts at the time, but was fascinated by the Korean art of Taekwondo (which every Korean schoolchild was immersed in).  My military position (I was a prosecutor) kept me from training in Korea.  On returning to the states, I studied initially (1973-5) with a first dan who hosted an (obviously) small program.  Surprisingly, on reflection, he was a good instructor.  Upon leaving the army, i joined up with “Kwan Ro Korean Karate” in 1975.  It was an excellent program, and its successor, “Mountain Kim Taekwondo” remains my “home” school to this day.

What do i remember most?  Sparring.  “Protective equipment” consisted of a mouth guard (optional).

COMANews: What do you enjoy most about martial arts?

Master McKenna: That’s changed over the years.  For some time I enjoyed sparring over everything else.  Now it’s the “spirit” of martial arts that I like most–essentially, I like the people.  Also, not to sound too corny, but I enjoy the fact that I am continuing in traditions that date back thousands of years.

COMANews: How has your training changed as you’ve gotten older?

Master McKenna: Obviously as you get older your body won’t do some of the things it used to.  In addition, you don’t recover as quickly from injuries.  But with proper thought (in advance) and awareness, you can train at pretty much any age with good results.  As you train in older years, you have to be careful to know your limitations.  However, with a good instructor, you can actually accomplish quite a bit more than you would have anticipated.

COMANews; What kind of things can we look forward to from COSTA in 2013?

Master McKenna: We plan five formal events–our annual state championships, our poomsae tournament, our team trials and two seminars (one referee and one poomsae). We also provide training for our poomsae and kyorogi teams, and financial support for athletes and others representing Colorado at national and international events.  We also try to work with all interested schools in staging and staffing their own events.  We are looking into more activities, and all suggestions are welcome.

COMANews: Can you provide one or two classic stories from Colorado martial arts history?

Master McKenna: Yes, but i don’t want to make anyone mad.

At a more general level, Colorado is a remarkable place for martial arts study, offering excellent instruction in a wide variety of martial arts.  Historically, Ralph Krause, one of the true pioneers of sport karate, lived and taught in Denver.  His annual tournament was one of the very first national karate tournaments.   Larry McGill pioneered Taekwondo in Colorado, developing the first “for credit” collegiate Taekwondo program in the country.  Our former senator, Ben Campbell, is a member of the black belt hall of fame and a gold medal winner at the pan-American games in judo.  Colorado is a great place for martial arts.

COMANews: What advice do you have for new students starting out?

Master McKenna: This obviously depends on the age of the student.  Speaking to adults (I started Taekwondo training at age 28), be patient.  You won’t be able to do everything the kids do.  But remember, you are smarter than the kids.  Take advantage of that opportunity.  For example, on tests, you are smart enough to know that you should really spend more time on forms than you might like to, a realization that will give you an advantage on a test.  Speaking to everyone, make sure that you find a program that you actually enjoy.  Martial arts training is for a lifetime, and it’s for everyone.  If you are not enjoying your training, you probably won’t keep it up.  Obviously this advice has to be taken with a grain of common sense in dealing with children, who often (usually?) don’t know what’s best for them, but overall it’s true.

COMANews: What advice do you have for instructors?

Master McKenna: Obviously every instructor has his or her own teaching style, and I don’t presume to intrude in that area.  However, something to keep in mind as instructors.  An instructor can form a powerful bond with his or her students.  Be careful to be aware of bonds as they form and be very careful that you do not accidentally compromise yourself or your students.  Also, in line with the previous question, an instructor whose training is “fun” for participants (by “fun” I do not mean “frivolous,” but enjoyable) will have the best shot at running a successful program.  By the way, I have visited a large number of schools in the Denver area, and I can say that this aspect of training is in evidence in every one I visited.


Check back later for more interviews from pioneers of Colorado martial arts. Know someone who would make a good subject? Email [email protected] !

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Collegiate National Taekwondo Championships





Colorado Springs, CO – The dates for the Collegiate National Taekwondo Championships have officially been announced. The event will be hosted by the Air Force Academy Taekwondo Team at the US Olympic Training Center from April 12-14th, 2013. This event will represent only the 2nd time that the event will be in Colorado in over 40 years. This is an amazing competition opportunity for members of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Taekwondo League (RMCTL) and really looks to be a shot in the arm for that group of schools. Friday April 12th will be registration, while all poomsae will be contested on Saturday. Sunday will feature all sparring competition.

The event is sure to be action-packed with many of the top competitors in the nation vying for medals. Colorado Martial Arts News will be there providing blow by blow accounts of all the action!

You can find more about the event on the official NCTA page. Registration will be through the USAT’s Hangastar system.

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