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2012 UC Open Taekwondo Action

2012 UC Open Taekwondo Action

13 Medals for Young Martial Artists
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
(NOTE: This article is reprinted with the kind permission of the MS Area Newspapers,

The Mount Shasta Martial Arts Program returned from the 43rd UC Open Taekwondo Championships on April 21 at UC Berkeley with its most impressive results ever: 13 medals (3 gold, 2 silver, and 8 bronze). Eight children and one adult from five families competed in both forms and contact sparring.

 Sparring Gold!

After winning bronze in forms, Andrew Alves, 9, made the finals in sparring. After some confusion in the first round against a determined opponent that wouldn’t back down, Andrew made slight adjustments to his kicks in the in the second round. Kicking harder and with better accuracy, Andrew broke open a close match to win the gold.

“Master Chuck’s [MSMAP head instructor Chuck Buhs] words have meaning,” said Andrew. “Attending class, practicing, setting goals, and working hard are important.”

Bronze Medal Form
Bronze Medal Form

Logan Scholberg, 10, tried his best in forms but couldn’t make it into the medal standings. This disappointment gave him more incentive to do well in sparring. Whereas forms requires a steady, calm mind to perform the techniques with precision and balance, sparring demands active, quick thinking along with quick reflexes. Logan used both to keep his opponents guessing. Many times, when his opponents threw kicks, Logan quickly slid out of range before the kicks could hit him. When his opponents scored too many points, Logan made certain get back to basics — evade and counterattack.

However, in the second round of his finals match, Logan had the wind knocked out of him, delaying the match while he caught his breath. Once recovered and the match resumed, Logan had a healthy respect for his opponent but still came back strong, using his footwork to move in and out of range for effective counterattacks and winning the gold.

Logan’s parents, Alisa and Jeff, enjoyed watching the competition, calling it an “amazing experience.”

“All the MSMAP competitors showed such maturity in the way they handled themselves out in the rings,” Alisa said. “They were respectful at all times, and all of them showed such poise. We were thrilled to be a part of it, not only for our own boys, but for all the competitors.”

 Double-Medal Winners Face Aggressive Challengers

Double-medal winners included Elina Saryon, 14, and second-time competitor, Vitaliy Tveritin, 12, each winning bronze in forms in their respective divisions with precise techniques and calm attitudes.

Returning for a second time, Vitaliy was ready to show how much improvement he’s made over the past year. In forms, he’s developed an impressive ability to control his movements and techniques. All that work paid off in a very tough division when he took bronze.

Forms Happy Winners
Forms Action Hard, Smart Work Pays Off

In sparring, he used a variety of skills including strong kicks and excellent footwork to move around the ring well. In his semi-final sparring match, Vitaliy used excellent footwork to keep his opponent guessing. At one point, he and his opponent were trading kicks back and forth and both were missing each other due to excellent footwork to the other’s kicks. In the final seconds, Vitaliy couldn’t quite match the number of kicks and points, winning another bronze medal.

In her sparring finals, Elina faced an aggressive shorter, stronger opponent. Although she was overwhelmed with her opponent’s speed and power, Elina excelled with determination, doing her best, and winning silver.

Green Belt Action
Green Belt Action

Elina and her brother, Emmanuel, 11 — a bronze medal winner in sparring — each noted the emotional aggression of a few sparring participants who would become enraged when knocked down by their opponents and consequently attack them in a rage and sometimes even out of control.

“I was surprised by the intensity and aggression in the other girl’s face and demeanor before our match,” said Elina. “But, I learned that I can stand my ground even in the most challenging situation.”

“When Touson [Elina’s father] and I saw Elina’s opponent, we were genuinely concerned,” said Elina’s mother, Ailita. “However, during the match, Elina really held her own and I personally believe she benefitted far more from the experience then her opponent. In fact, this experience will most likely benefit her in just about every aspect of her present and future life.”

“This competition took tremendous courage for our daughter,” concluded Ailita. “She is now stronger emotionally and mentally — a major VICTORY for her!”

 Making Decisions...Continue or Not?

Alisa agreed that the sparring competition demanded a lot from her boys “to go against other competitors that they did not know and to experience the challenges that came their way.”

“Both had a crossroad that they faced during the sparring where they had to decide whether to get up and continue or to give up,” explained Alisa. “That they both got up and continued shows perseverance and that will carry them far both in martial arts and outside of it.”

Connor Scholberg, 9, also won bronze in sparring after being knocked down and — as Alisa mentioned — getting back up and finishing the match against a tough opponent.

 A Family Affair

It was a family affair for the Van Laekin family with brothers Kyle, 11, and Holden, 9, competing along with their father, Kevin, 39. Afterwards, Holden said that his experience of winning a bronze medal in an exciting sudden-death overtime semi-final match “inspired me to want to be a black-belt. I now know if you have confidence in yourself and work hard, you can be a black belt.”

“I have three goals in life and two are about Taekwondo,” added Kyle. “First, I want to be a black belt someday. Second, I would like to fill a whole wall with UC Berkeley medals.”

Their mother, Amy, was impressed with how the boys responded to the stress of a large competition.

Bronze Medal Sparring Action
Bronze Medal Sparring Action

“Watching my sons exhibit genuine sportsmanship was by far the high point,” Amy said.

“They got to see people who handled winning with grace. They also learned a lot about how competition can bring out the best or the worst in people. Everyone from Mount Shasta was exemplary in how they handled the sometimes intense emotions of competition.”

Kevin Van Laekin was the biggest winner of the day for MSMAP. His hard work on technique, flexibility, and balance over the past year paid off as the judges awarded him a silver medal in the forms competition (matching his placing from last year).

“I was so impressed with how much he had improved from last year,” said his wife, Amy. “He knew that to do what he wanted to do he had to become more limber, so he spent a year stretching against our walls every night. He worked very had at becoming a more savvy opponent.”

In the sparring competition, Van Laekin used hard, punishing body kicks to score points early and set a commanding tone for each of his matches. After making his opponents wary of his strength, he then used several controlled head kicks to make them even more concerned — each head kick being worth 3 points. With loud cheering from his family, Van Laekin won gold by “gapping” his finals opponent with an impressive 10-point differential.

MSMAP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located at 612-A S. Mt. Shasta Blvd. (email: , and Facebook).

Read more: Other articles about MSMAP’s successful competition experiences.
Go to: 2017 UC Open Taekwondo & Yongmudo Championships
Go to: 2016 UC Open Taekwondo & Yongmudo Championships
Go to: 2014 UC Open Taekwondo Championships
Go to: 2013 UC Open Taekwondo Championships
Go to: 2012 UC Yongmudo Championships
Go to: 2012 UC Open Taekwondo Championships
Go to: 2011 UC Yongmudo Championships
Go to: 2011 UC Open Taekwondo Championships
Go to: 2010 UC Open Taekwondo & Yongmudo Championships
Go to: 2009 UC Open Taekwondo Championships

Learn more about Taekwondo Competition:
Go to: UC Open Information
Go to: Taekwondo Competition

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