The Northern Kentucky University Taekwondo Club battled at the United States Specialty Sports Association state championships Saturday, Feb. 4, winning medals in numerous divisions and earning the right to compete in the national championships.
The Kentucky USSSA Taekwondo Championships were held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville. The tournament featured athletes from throughout Kentucky and neighboring states competing in Taekwondo forms, continuous point (CP) sparring, and Olympic-style full-contact sparring. The NKU Club, lead by Head Coach Susie Jang, included students Shannon Blevens, Ron Cole, Osniel Gonzalez and Matt Kelley.
“There were some solid matches (at the tournament),” Cole said. “Osniel did extremely well in continuous point sparring and everyone came ready to compete. I think we did a great job.”
Gonzalez broke one finger and jammed another during his first match in CP sparring. He won second place in that division, then went on to win first place in the men’s beginner/intermediate heavyweight division for Olympic-style sparring.
Fellow student Kelley won medals in all three of the tournament’s competition categories, winning second place in the men’s beginner/intermediate welterweight division CP sparring; first place in coed beginner forms; and a technical gold in the men’s beginner welterweight division for Olympic-style sparring.
Blevens won second place in coed beginner forms and a technical gold in women’s beginner Olympic-style sparring and Ron Cole received third place in men’s beginner/intermediate heavyweight CP sparring, first place in the men’s intermediate forms and second place in beginner/intermediate heavyweight Olympic-style sparring. In all, NKU Club members won 10 medals.
The three types of events open to competitors were continuous point sparring, Olympic-style sparring and forms. Continuous point sparring is a form of controlled martial arts combat in which proper technique is emphasized rather than the strength of a blow. Olympic-style Tae Kwon Do sparring is similar in many ways to Olympic-style boxing, with forceful techniques earning the competitors points and knockouts are a legal way to win matches. Forms are a set of pre-defined movements done in front of judges to demonstrate control and mastery of technique.
The victories open the way for the Taekwondo Club to compete in the USSSA National Championships in Kissimmee, Fla., July 21 through 24.