The 10th Annual San Diego Taekwondo Championship

Yesterday, Saturday, September 11, 2004, was the 10th Annual San Diego Taekwondo Championship at the Rimac Gym at the University of California – San Diego.

Everything started at 8:00 am and I left at 7:00 am to get there on time and give enough time to get there even if I get lost. Although Yahoo Maps and Map Quest suggested a route, I did not follow it after looking at the maps for some time, and got all the streets in my head, and was considering two alternative routes, either Torrey Pines Road from Highway 56, or exit on Genesee from Highway 56. While driving, I missed the exit to Torrey Pines when I noticed the road was already climbing high turning left. I then stayed on the right lane to be sure I don’t miss Genesee Avenue After taking the exit on Genesee; I was able to go straight to Torrey Pines and head to the Rimac Gym. After seeing some people in Taekwondo uniforms, I knew I was at the right place already.

UCSD looked like a real cool place, and reminded me of my days as a university student after seeing the large gym and the playing field outside. There were a lot of people jogging in the morning in the university streets.

I first saw Juno and Bonnie outside, then caught up with Sergei as well, then everyone else started coming. We entered the gym, and I started out with the meeting of the referees before everything started.

It was the poomse(forms, in karate, this is kata) competition first in the morning and I was one of the judges for the poomse being, one of the referees. My co-judge, I’m not sure if I remembered his name right, Mikhail was a blackbelt from another school, who was a businessman who owned a video production company, making videos, animations outsourced by other companies and their latest project is the Harry Potter animation series for TV. He also did mention he was working on educational videos for children sold in the Philippines.

We then had lunch, which was free for the referees, judges, organizers and volunteers sponsored by the San Diego Taekwondo Association. Although food was many and delicious, I did not want to fill myself up that much since it might be too heavy in the stomach or worse, might even make me throw up during my competition.

After lunch was the kyoroogi(sparring) competition, although I was still a referee, I felt I needed more time to warm up and prepare for my match mentally. But I made a promise to help out in the competition as a referee to Master Won K. Min who is a very nice guy. I also promised to help fix things at the venue the night before, but was I absent that time so I really felt like helping out as a referee.

Me outside the gym before everything started.

Before the kyoroogi, there were demonstrations by all these Taekwondo schools in San Diego. The first demonstration was a emotional-touching one by AH Taekwondo, a 10 year old kid who could barely walk with legs like twigs and no power and needed special crutches, attached to his forearms to walk. But he really had the spirit to go on. He did different hand combination techniques and self-defense techniques using his crutches and even did breaking demonstrations as well.

Other schools did rehearsed fights, although they looked good and would be great for the movies, they do not appeal to me that much.

Two demonstrations I liked best were from Champion Taekwondo Academy and World Taekwondo Institute. Champion Taekwondo Academy did great with the breaking where the highlights were Daniel’s high side kick over the shoulders of two people, and these two people were standing up. And Andy’s high roundhouse on a board held by someone on top of another person’s shoulders, as Andy took a step up on another person’s hands.

World Taekwondo Institute seemed to have the most adult blackbelts compared to the other schools. So there was a lot of breaking. The highlights were a turning side kick breaking four boards, a jumping turning hook kick (Philippine kick name: jumping turning long) with an extra ½ turn, and not only one person did it, a lot of them did it. This was a personal favorite kick of mine in the past, when I used to do it too, but with the training I will be doing, I think I will be back with the skill I had before.

This trophy says Outstanding Referee, but there is really nothing special about it, all referees received the exact same trophy. So all of us were outstanding! 😛

Being a referee, I knew that we will not allow anyone to join without head gear, body armor, forearm guards, shin and instep guards, mouth piece and groin guard. The only thing I had was a groin guard! Outside was a table selling everything but I did not have all the money to buy everything since I didn’t have the cash yet. Mama and Papa gave me $50 for me to use for food and a good thing food was free for referees so I used up all the money on everything I could buy for my kyoroogi competition. I got myself some shin guards, forearm guards, and a mouth piece. I borrowed armor and head gear. After I got everything, I wore whatever I could and just wore my referee t-shirt over it and went back to the referee seats and was a corner judge for some of the fights.

When it was my time to line up to prepare to fight, I went on to the competitors’ area to prepare. I was a bit surprised to see more people than expected who fight in my age category. Since it was my first time to wear a mouth piece, I wore it earlier for my to get used to it and I was not used to it at all. It was kind of funny looking at the faces of the other competitors before the competition started, you can’t really tell if they are confident or not, but I could see them hiding fear in their faces. And here comes Joe and Sergei (friends of mine from Champion Taekwondo Academy) who looked real confident sparring at each other backstage before the competition started where everyone is lined up. What they were doing looked liked fun, so I decided to join in as well. And as were sparring, I found it funny looking at the faces of the other competitors; it was already like scarring them. Nyhahahaha.

Another competitor talked to me and asked if I was a Filipino, and I said yes. He then asked how long I was in the States, and I said 2 months. He then asked where I trained in Taekwondo, I said mainly in the Philippines. And then he said “Naku lagot, patay na!” (Oh no, we’re dead!) He then asked at what Taekwondo school in the Philippines did I train, and I said at DLSU under Stephen Fernandez. He then said again “Naku lagot!” (Oh No!) But I just laughed at his reactions since and said that was a long time ago; the last time I practiced hard was in 1996 and I lost all my endurance through time without practice. He too was knowledgeable of how training is different in the Philippines compared to the States.

Read on and find out how I got this!

Well anyway, from fight after fight, each fight along the way felt tiring and more tiring, but was still happy to advance up to the finals. During the final match, this already assured me at least a 2nd place spot in my division and my competitor did not look tired at all. Since I was so tired, I was rarely kicking and my competitor kept kicking, but never hit me well. He was like kicking air as I always moved away from his kicks. But I think it did make me look like a losing chicken to the judges like I was running away from a fight. During the last round I felt I had no energy to go on, but I said he has never really landed a solid point on me, so I’m going hard even if I’m so tired, I will push myself near the limit of collapsing. Nyahahahaha. A few seconds before the fight ended, I landed a good solid, nice sounding roundhouse to the chest of my opponent. And he never landed a solid kick on me. I thought I got already, with a 1-0 score on my favor. And then when the winner was announced, I lost. Nyhahahahaha, and I knew why. I backed out of the fighting arena three times and was given two warnings and a point deduction on my third time. Since two warning is equal to a point deduction as well, I was given a negative 2 point. So I got a final score of -1! Nyhahahaha, but there are really no negative scores here, so it was like a 0-0 match. But my opponent was more aggressive and I was just so tired and was moving away the whole time. Anyway, 2nd place is still good and I had a chat too with the winner who was a Russian from a Taekwondo School in Los Angeles. And as we parted ways and congratulated him and said nice meeting you, he also said, if you’ll be here next year, we might meet again. And I said yeah, and hopefully I win next year, then I laughed.

I would also like to give this opportunity to thank the people who helped me win this competition…

Stephen Fernandez – He is still the person responsible for the foundation of all my Taekwondo skills. The whole DLSU Taekwondo team was a real hard-core Taekwondo team. The 6:00am varsity training was an experience I never experienced in any other Taekwondo school. 3 hours straight sparring 3 minutes each round, sparring with everyone without safety gear and head kicks are allowed for all belt levels. For me is my best Taekwondo instructor so far in the history of my Taekwondo experience.

Edrick Galing – This beefed-up muscleman was not only a Taekwondo instructor, he was a nutritionist, a health adviser, aerobics competitor since he is a Human Kinetics graduate of UP. He was like a fight tactician, a technical fighter. Although Stephen was also a technical coach, a fight tactician too, Stephen was move of a sadistic motivator. Edrick was like a anti-violence guy. I remember Stephen saying once “If your opponent is faster than you, hurt him a bit so he slows down.” Something you will never hear from Edrick since he never wants somebody hurt.

Cesar Mateo – Just like Edrick Galing, he has the same traits, and is also from the college of Human Kinetics at UP. I believe he is even still teaching there at UP up to now.

Lumar Sosa – Unlike other instructors who were products of Sung Chon Hong, Sir Lumar was a product of David Lee. He had the skill but did not have the hardcore attitude like the others. He is humble and has Christian teachings integrated in his classes.

Robert Danao – This guy is a bit old already, but he is beefed up. His skill is extremely great considering his age where I think is nearly in his late 30s or early 40s. He recently won a competition here in the States for both poomse and kyoroogi. His whole life is inspiring knowing that he was once a criminal and serve a long sentence in jail. He learned his lessons and turned to the Lord and changed for the better. He had nothing to do when he got out of jail and ended up helping cleaning the Philippine Taekwondo Association’s Central Gym and helping out in everything there while he studied Taekwondo at the gym as well.

Won K Min – My latest instructor here in the States, he is Korean and I know he’s pretty hard core considering training in Korea is hardcore but since he is in the States, He adopted the American style of training. Always starts classes with a greeting, “Hello everyone, how are you today?” and end with the greeting, “Good job, everyone did good today. Class dismissed.” And kicking to the head is really a big issue here in the States since it is not allowed for colored belts and I kind of understand why since people easily sue people here, and if a kid tells his parents, I got kicked in the head and their parents go hysterical, they sometimes just want to bring everything to court and take legal action, and that’s where the trouble starts. But generally I think he is doing a good job since Champion Taekwondo Academy got a lot of wins during the competition.

This November, is the California Open Taekwondo Competition, now the question is am I joining? The answer is no, but in 2005 I believe I will. The San Diego competition was already tiring for me, although I reached the finals. I was way tired in the final match and the California Open will have more competitors and it will be more tiring since there will be more fights. But I will train hard for it to be able to join next year. I just need to jog a lot to get my endurance back. I might go to a gym next month to get beefed up as well for more strength and muscles sometimes pad up your body so you don’t get hurt that much when you get hit.

I would also like to the Lord for keeping everything safe during the competition. There was only like one incident that brought the attention of the San Diego Taekwondo Association president. This was during a match of two 15 year old blackbelt girls where one of them got ax kicked in the face and hurt her eye. It was nothing serious, but being a 15 year old and with all the crying, she was so emotional about it that she cried so much and did not want to stand up anymore. She was fine after about 30 minutes.

I’d like to say sorry to Garry, Tess since I did not get to attend the baptism of Julie Ann in the States, and thanks for understanding the situation as well. The competition was a whole day affair.

Thanks to my family’s support back home, my wife who is behind me even if she’s in the Philippines. My Mom who always worried in everything I do, don’t worry Mom, you have to worry a lot if I join competitions in the Philippines. But here in the States, do not worry about anything, everything is done safe here.

Thanks to Mama and Papa because without them, I would have no place to stay which is really a large expense on my part if ever they were not here with me without a job when I came here.

Thanks to my fellow students at my do-jang, and congratulations too! Many of us won, for those that did not win, we are all here to help you out with your mistakes and will correct them. For those that did not join, the only reason I see why you do not want to join is because you feel you are not confident with the skill you have, so we are here to help you out with that too and develop the skill you need to be confident to join as well.