Fists fly at martial arts championship

Punches and kicks flew through the air while loud kihas reverberated inside the gym walls.

The first Kentucky Invitational Taekwondo Championship was off to a vicious start on Oct. 15 in the Albright Health Center Gymnasium.

Taekwondo is a Martial Art that originated in Korea and literally means “the art of the feet and the hands.” The strikes made with the hands, elbows, knees and feet ward off or even kill attackers.

From children to adults, white belts to black belts, 237 participants competed against each other in forms and sparring.

A Form is a routine particular to belt level and it takes about two minutes to perform the sequence of kicks, punches, blocks and spins against an imaginary attacker. Sparring is freestyle and is done full contact with an aggressor. Some participants also entered divisions to showcase creative forms that they developed themselves.

Northern Kentucky University’s Taekwondo Club and Jang’s Taekwondo in Edgewood, KY sponsored the daylong competition. It commenced with a ceremony involving five members of the University of Cincinnati’s ROTC Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem by members of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity.

The competitors and judges came from area colleges such as the University of Cincinnati, Miami University and Taekwondo schools across the country and even beyond. The success of the event indicates that this will become an annual occurrence at NKU.

“People are here from as far away as Canada and Maryland,” said Christopher Jang, the Taekwondo Club’s president and instructor. “There’s a lot of complex networking that goes on to get them all here.”

Jang is a third degree black belt who started learning Taekwondo 12 years ago.

Taekwondo Club member Raphael Suh took first place in the men’s black belt division in sparring and forms. The student from Germany said he has been practicing Taekwondo for 12 years.

Fifteen students are registered in NKU’s Taekwondo club, and several of them competed and did well in the tournament.

NKU students Ron Cole, Farkhad Abdikadirov and Osniel Gonzalez all received awards for their performance of forms and sparring in their divisions.

The Taekwondo Club practices Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with instructor Christopher Jang. Their website is