Local Tae Kwon Do Students Prepare for the Big Stage
For elite group trained by Joon Lee, it's off to the ATU National Championships Saturday in Los Angeles.
Caitlin Knapp, who is a 23-year-old Tae Kwon Do student and training to be an instructor, has a big weekend ahead of her.
Knapp, along with 27 other students ranging from ages 5-62 from Joon Lee’s Tae Kwon Do Schools in Oak Lawn and Orland Park, are heading to Los Angeles to compete at the ATU National Tae Kwon Do Championships on Saturday. She has been doing Tae Kwon Do for five years without competing at nationals, and now she finally gets the chance to compete on the biggest stage.
While Knapp is nervous, she’s excited for the opportunity.
“I want to go experience it and learn,” Knapp said. “I would love to win, but I really just want to take away the experience of it and know where my weaknesses are and where my strengths are.”
The championship will feature competitions in forms and sparring. Forms is a routine of memorized movements. According to Master Jane Lee, instructor at Joon Lee’s Tae Kwon Do School, success in forms comes down to performance because there is no exact way to do the movements.
In sparring, points are scored with hits to the head or stomach. The point, however, isn’t to knock someone out.
“It’s organized, so it’s not like a UFC fight or cage fighting or boxing,” Lee said.” You’re goal is not to knock them out, but to get points.”
The championship has been called the Super Bowl of Tae Kwon Do by athletes and instructors because all 50 states are represented with their best competitors. Lee has high hopes, but is already proud of her students.
“Hopefully, all gold, first-place all around,” Lee said of her goal for the weekend. “But they work so hard and, so whatever they get, they’re always first in our eyes. We try to train them as best as we can, but really it’s more about them having fun and having a great experience.”