AAU Taekwondo Qualifier Recap: Lebanon, TN (3/28/15)

qualifier cover photo1Another local qualifier tournament has come and gone.  The number of competitors was significantly smaller compared to previous years and the intensity of competition seemed to follow suit.  It wasn’t sluggish, but it didn’t produce quite the same buzz of excitement that qualifiers usually have.  Oh well, tournaments are like roller-coasters and this was a slower year.  Having said that, I still saw a lot of things that left me excited and ready to get back to the drawing boards regarding how I personally train and how I instruct my students.  Let’s dig into what I observed and things you can look out for at tournaments you attend.

Special needs division

As a parent of a special needs child, this section is very near and dear to my heart.  The inclusion of a special needs division into this tournament created new opportunities for those who might have never had a chance to compete.

My wife, who has started her own special needs Taekwondo school (shout out to Special Kicks TKD), brought two of her students to compete in forms and point sparring.  Both performed admirably and we couldn’t be prouder.  I will admit, I was a little anxious.  What would be the response from others?  Would there be snickers or derogatory comments from any of the surrounding spectators?  Before you think me paranoid let me assure you that yes, it has happened in prior tournaments and if I was present, said person would probably have been slapped around.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised.  After each student completed their form, they were met with thunderous applause from the bleachers.  The parents were in tears seeing their kids do something at this level and being met with such support.  It was a heartening experience that assures me we are moving in the right direction.

special kicks tourney picMy wife and the Special Kicks TKD group.

Point sparring

We had a few students from our school compete in Point Sparring.  A few came home with golds or silvers.  Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about this division.  Point sparring is not my forte so the normal tips and pointers I typically will give my students for Olympic Sparring do not apply.  That being said, I did notice a few issues with some of my younger fighters that we can improve upon, namely feinting before rushing in for an attack.

One of my students in particular kept getting kicked in the head because she’d simply rush at her opponent with little, to no, cover fire.  Her opponent just waited for her to come in and would easily land a roundhouse kick to the head (a 2 point attack).  This ended the match fairly quickly due to the 7 point gap rule.

This is something that I will be addressing with my students while we perform sparring drills as I see many students, young, old, novice, and advanced do.

Olympic sparring

My favorite division to watch and sadly I didn’t get to see any of it.  For the past couple of years I have been in charge of the board breaking division which has diverted a good chunk of my time at this tournament.  Between that and helping out with the concession stand ran by our school (we’re a busy lot!) I had little time to stand around and watch.  Shed a tear…and moving on!


Our students did really well in forms.  Not much to say about this section as there is much less analyzing needed and more just refinement of the techniques.

I will say I saw a couple of black belt girls (probably 9-10 in age) who were doing some superb forms.  The intensity was incredible and they looked like they were going to tear someone’s face off!  THOSE are the forms that score well.  If your form is humdrum, then expect to get humdrum scores from the judges.  Wish I had a video of them to show my students…

Board breaking

standing aroundI’m partially hidden to the left.  Ninja skills at work.

Seeing as I was in charge of the group that held boards, I got a lot of time to see what was going on in this division.  This was the 2nd year that board breaking has been a sanctioned event at our local qualifier and the competition is slowly improving.  Last year’s breaking divisions were small and the breaks themselves were not that exciting.  This year the competitors had more creative breaks and combinations.  There were quite a few people doing speed breaks, jumping/spinning kicks, and even a few doing power breaks.  One of our students broke 4 boards with a palm strike.  Very impressive!

In other news with board breaking, I had a minor injury.  I bring it up due to the fact that this is the first I’ve seen this happen (honestly thought it would happen more often).  To keep a short story short, I was holding the boards at a slightly odd angle for one competitor’s break.  His aim was a bit off and he wound up hitting the bottom of the board where my hand was, causing the corner of the board to do this…

hand cut If you go to a tournament and no one gets injured…was there really a competition?

While not deep or serious, it did make holding boards a bit tougher.  I got patched up by the medic, but had to take a back seat for most of the remaining breaks due to the gauze limiting what I could do with that hand (didn’t think the competitors would want me bleeding all over their boards).  Word of warning, kids… wear gloves!

Final notes

I always love going to tournaments.  They leave me energized and wanting to get back into competition.  Who knows what next year will bring?  I was surprised by the number of students from my school that showed up to compete.  Our school is more family-focused and there tends to be few that are interested in competing.  Hopefully we can turn this around and get some dedicated students who will want to train more seriously for next year.

I was hoping to upload some videos that I took, but sadly I am technologically inept.  I’ll work on getting some proper gear to shoot some quality videos and pictures in the future.

Keep on kickin’ and remember…



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