USA WORLD QUALIFIER
Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do will take five black belts to the Taekwon-Do World Qualifier in New Haven, Connecticut, on June 26th and 27th. The black belts that finish in the top three places at this competition are qualified to represent the United States at the ITF World Championships in Dijon, South Korea in October. Black belts from four national organizations representing ITF Taekwon-Do in the United States will be represented at this qualifier. The USA qualifier is open to any International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) black belt that feels they can compete at this level.
The ITF World Championships are only held every other year. Each year it is held in a different country. This year is extra special since it is the first time in many years it will be held in the country Taekwon-Do was founded. Over 75 countries will be represented at the ITF World Championships in October.
Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do is a member of the Yom Chi Taekwon-Do Association which is one of the four organizations representing Taekwon-Do at the qualifier. Along with these five black belts Mr. Blakeley, VI degree black belt, owner and senior instructor of ENMTKD will be traveling as coach and Mr. John Bridges, V Degree black belt will referee at this event. This competition is restricted to IV degree black belts and below or Mr. Bridges would also be competing.
The five black belts from Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do that will be competing are; Mr. Mark Hardage, IV degree black belt from Tucumcari; Ms. Nicole Frank, II degree black belt from Portales; Ms. Audra Brown, II degree black belt from Portales; Mr. Joshua Bullard, II degree black belt, from Tucumcari; and Mr. Mark Yoesting, I degree black belt from Clovis.
The group will fly from Albuquerque on June 24th to prepare for the two day event. The competition includes; sparring, patterns, power breaking and specialty breaking. The competition starts the morning of June 26 and will end Sunday evening June 27th.
The last time Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do was represented in international competition was in March of 1998 when two of Mr. Blakeley's black belts qualified for the USA vs. Ireland extravaganza held in Dublin, Ireland on St. Patrict's Day. Bryan Bresler and Bernie Cordova representing the USA captured five medals at this event. Not bad for a little school from Portales.
EASTERN NEW MEXICO TAEKWON-DO RETURNS FROM WORLD QUALIFIER
On June 27th, Mr. Blakeley and five of his students returned to Portales from the East coast. They have been involved in fierce competition that would determine who would represent the United States in the Taekwon-Do World Championships in South Korea. This competition was held in New Haven, Connecticut about an hour and one-half drive from New York City. The four national organizations that represent the International Taekwon-Do Federation in the United States each sent their top black belt competitors to this event. Approximately 130 black belts from across the US competed in the two day event. Black belts from as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska made the trip to compete with the best Taekwon-Do practitioners in the United States. Three world medalists returned this year to compete for a chance to compete in worlds again. The World Championships are only held ever other year. This competition is comparable to the Summer Olympics that will be held in Greece this year.
After introductions and recognition of some of the dignitaries, the qualifier began with patterns early, 7:30 a.m., Saturday morning, June 26th. The first Portales competitor up was Nicole Frank and on completion of her division she was on her way to Korea with a Silver Medal. The second to compete was Audra Brown and by the middle of the afternoon on Saturday she was on her way to Korea with a Silver Medal in patterns. The third person to earn their position on the USA team was Mark Yoesting with a Bronze medal in patterns. By the end of the day it was plain to see Portales and Clovis would be well represented in Korea. The second day started very early with sparring at 6:30 a.m. Nicole Frank after several rounds of sparring had captured a second medal with a Bronze in sparring. Late in the afternoon on Sunday Audra Brown captured her second medal with a Gold medal in power breaking. By the end of the second day everyone was exhausted and ready to make the long flight home. The two other competitors from Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do, Mark Hardage 4th degree black belt and instructor of the ENMTKD branch in Tucumcari and Joshua Bullard 2nd degree black belt of Tucumcari were unable to finish in the top three. However, at the second highest level of competition in Taekwon-Do they represented Eastern New Mexico well by finishing just out of the top three positions. All the competitors from the area competed in patterns, sparring and power breaking. Mr. Hardage also competed in specialty breaking which is when a person breaks boards at an extremely high level. The specialty breaking starts with boards held over 8 feet off the ground and goes up from there. Power breaking is when a number of boards are placed in a holder and the competitor attempts to break as many boards as possible with hand and foot techniques. They are limited to one try at each break.
Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do is a member of the Yom Chi Taekwon-Do Association the smallest of the national organizations representing Taekwon-Do in the United States. Of these four organizations the United States is only allowed three competitors in each division. Each organization was allowed a team coach who would be the only person allowed on the floor with the competitors during the competition at this qualifier. The United States is only allowed eight team coaches at the World Championships in Korea. Mr. Blakeley was selected as one of the eight coaches from the United States to coach our 40 American competitors.
Yom Chi Taekwon-Do Association had a total of 10 competitors at this event. Five of the ten member team were students from the Portales/Clovis/Tucumcari area. Of the five local black belts, three were selected to represent the United States at the highest level of competitions available in Taekwon-Do, the Taekwon-Do World Championships. Only the top three competitors in each division from each country will travel to Korea to compete. Of the approximant 130 competitors at the qualifier in North Haven less than one third earned the right to attend the World Championships. Nicole Frank 1st degree black belt from Portales earned a Silver medal in patterns and a Bronze in Sparring. Mark Yoesting, 1st degree black belt from Clovis earned a Bronze medal in patterns. Audra Brown 2nd degree black belt from Portales earned a Silver medal in patterns and a Gold medal in power breaking.
Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do has two branch schools one in Tucumcari and one in Ft. Sumner. Mr. Mark Hardage is the instructor in Tucumcari and Mr. Manuel Lucero instructs the classes in Ft. Sumner. ENMTKD has competed in international tournaments in Ireland, Canada and Mexico. However, this is the first time in its 32 year history it has black belts who qualified to compete in the World Championships. Another member of the local Taekwon-Do school, Mr. John Bridges, from Ft. Sumner, 5th degree black belt will accompany the team as medical staff.
The Taekwon-Do World Championships will be October 14 - 19, 2004, in Daejeon City, South Korea. This week long event will be attended by between 600 to 700 black belts from 78 countries. This is considered the highest level of competition in Taekwon-Do. This is the best of the best. It is not known at this time if the event will be televised in the United States.
Anyone interested in helping these three black belts financially on this trip of a lifetime can contact leave donations at the Portales National Bank or contact Steve Blakeley at Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do 359-0449. Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do will be involved in several fund raising events in the coming months to help support these students. Come help these local residents bring home the gold.
THE TAEKWON-DO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Three Portales competitors and their coach returned home on Thursday from the Taekwon-Do World Championships in Daejion, South Korea. This competition included 1180 black belts from 44 countries. Audra Brown, Nicole Frank, and Mark Yoesting of Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do spent 10 days in South Korea competing with the best Taekwon-Do practitioners in the World and for their efforts have returned home with a Bronze medal. Audra Brown is the first competitor in the area to have achieved the honored title “World Medalist.” She earned a Bronze Medal in Power Breaking. The individual competitors competed in sparring, patterns, specialty breaking and power breaking.
Mr. Blakeley, owner and senior instructor of Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do was selected as one of the four USA Team Coaches. Mr. Blakeley was impressed with his students performances. This was the first time any of the three had competed at this level. In fact it is the first time any student of Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do has qualified to compete at this level. They all represented our school well. Mr. Blakeley stated, “I have been in Taekwon-Do for 35 years and some of the competition amazed even me.” Some of the countries take this competition so seriously they pay their team to train and compete at this event. There are no losers at this level of competition. It is an honor just qualifying to compete in this event. This is the highest level of competition in Taekwon-Do. The competition was not televised. The Taekwon-Do World Championship DVD’s should be out within a few months. ENMTKD will also have a DVD of the competition made from our own video clips for all to see.
The first two days in Korea the competitors spent getting acclimated and recovering from jet lag. The coaches spent the same two days in meeting getting the competitors registered, bracketed, and finalizing the rules of competition. The competition started with the opening ceremonies and fireworks display on the evening of October 14 th and closed on October 19th with an awards ceremony and going away party. The opening ceremonies included a parade of flags for each of the countries represented. This was followed by performances of old and new Korean theatre and dance and a welcome from the Secretary General of Taekwon-Do, Mr. Tibollo. The competition started with three days of competition for the junior black belts ages (13-17 yrs.) and the fourth, fifth, and sixth days were the adult competitors. The final medal totals are still being tallied; however, the United States had its best showing in many years. The medal totals are estimations since the tabulations have not been officially listed. The USA juniors won 3 gold metals, 2 silver and 2 bronze in individual competition. The USA junior teams received 2 silver and 1 bronze medal. The USA adult individuals received 1 gold, 2 silver, and 7 bronze medals. The Adult teams receive 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.
Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do would like to thank the following donors. Sorry this list only includes the major donors. Buddy & Sandy Bennett, R&J Service, C & S Oil, Tijerina Trucking, Craig Hughes Trailers Sales, Ag New Mexico, Bill Johnston Auctioneers, Clovis Machine & Manufacturing, Skinner’s Western Wear, Crosswinds Dairy, Idsinga Dairy, Bobby Borden, Portales Hardware, Portales Select Peanuts, Bank of Clovis, Chris and Andrea King, Creighton’s Town and Country, Dent & Co., Hamilton GM Country, Investments Out West, Jane & Scott Christensen, Lonnie Alexander, One Stop Feed, Southwest Ag Inc, Sunland Inc., Wood Equipment, Yucca Communications, Welch Trucking, Larry Brock, and Taco Box. We would also like to thank everyone for their wonderful support. It makes us glad to be part of the Portales and Clovis communities.