Young martial artists place at national Taekwondo tourney

By Zoe Jovanovich | Jul 31, 2013

Two of Mukilteo’s Champion Tae Kwon Do students placed well in the USA Taekwondo National Championships.

The martial arts school took six students to the July tournament, ranging from ages 7 to 16 years old.

This year, more than 4,000 athletes competed for the 1,300 medals awarded at the championships held July 3-8 in Chicago. It was the largest turnout in USA Taekwondo history.

Josiah Hwang, Fergus Curran, Bryce Kwon, Jennalynn Nonog, and Bilal and Bella Hasan all qualified by placing first, second or third at the state or regional competitions in California in their respective belt, age and weight categories.

Of the six students who competed at nationals, the Hasan siblings both placed.

“They are two of our most accomplished students,” Master June Hwang said. “About 90 percent of our competitions they place first in. We go to about 9-10 a year.”

Bella, 7, competed up in the 8-9 age group because there was no one in her category. She placed first in sparring and third in poomsae, which is performing sequences of fundamental Taekwondo forms.

“My favorite part was sparring, because we get to fight other people from around the world,” Bella said.

Hwang said sparring is Bella’s strong suit.

“Bella is our superstar,” he said. “She is one of those ‘no fear’ type people, and she ends ups winning a lot of her matches, even though she’s outsized.”

Her brother, Bilal, 12, and has been involved in Taekwondo for about eight years. He competed in the 12-14 age group and placed second in both sparring and poomsae. He placed first at state and qualified for nationals.

Hwang said Bilal did very well, especially considering the ages of his competitors.

“He was with students who were much older than him,” he said. “Once you hit the 12-14 [age group], it’s more dangerous and more competitive.”

The Hasan siblings and Josiah Hwang of the Champion Tae Kwon Do team also qualified for the National Demonstration Team, to be coached by Hwang.

The demonstration team will go to the world championships in Korea in August.

“I feel really happy and glad that I made it in,” Bilal said of making the demonstration team. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.”

Bella is also excited, and said she is looking forward to performing the special kicks used in the demonstration routine.

Bella attends Columbia Elementary, while Bilal goes to Harbour Pointe Middle School.

The six students who qualified for nationals had been going to extra practices after their regular Taekwondo classes, four days a week for the past year, under the instruction of June Hwang.

Taekwondo is a martial-art form that originated in Korea. It combines combat and self-defense techniques.

The sparring competition consists of three semi-continuous rounds of contact between two competitors, with one minute rest periods between rounds.

Points are earned by contact with one’s opponent through punches and kicks.

“It’s high-stress,” said Assistant Instructor James Hwang. “Basically you have three minutes to make it or break it.”

Zoe Jovanovich is an intern for the Mukilteo Beacon.

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