Martial Artists Test Their Skills at UC Berkeley

Mar 21, 2018

The Mount Shasta Martial Arts Program team returned from the 12th UC Yongmudo Championships at UC Berkeley on February 24 with nine gold, seven silver, and two bronze medals.

“Yongmudo is an ‘all-around’ martial art for self-defense,” explained MSMAP Head Coach and Executive Director Chuck Buhs. “This event is a fun, competitive way to test some of these skills including kicks, throws, and wrestling.”

Family Action

The Jones Family of McCloud set the tone for MSMAP as Tyler, 10, was the first on the mat in a couple of 1-round beginner divisions (grappling-only) taking gold and bronze, according to Buhs.

Tyler’s brother, Jackson, 13, competed in all three divisions winning gold in the beginner division, silver in the two-round intermediate division (kicks/punches in round 1 and grappling in round 2), and silver in the advanced 4-round division (kicking/punching; standing throws; grappling; and a combination round).

“It is amazing watching these kids grow up,” said their father, Eli. “I can really see how much Jackson has improved in the past year especially his confidence on and off the mat. I really didn’t know what Tyler was going to think before getting on the mat. When her first match was with a college student, I thought it was going to freak her out a bit, but she went in and took charge like a boss!”

Hope & Grit

Vitaliy Tveritin, 17, “established himself in the first round of his matches with his taekwondo skills and experience,” said Buhs. “He really unloaded with some strong, precise kicks and then worked at controlling distance with his superior footwork and timing. He literally stopped the guy in his first match with a single back kick. His strategy in the grappling rounds was primarily ‘hopeful grit’.”

“I was scared about not doing well,” said Vitaliy. “This was tough because I was much more tired than I am during a taekwondo match. Yongmudo uses all parts of your body. But, getting into the finals, I felt the ability to go all out. I needed that feeling in my second finals match because the other guy was deceptively strong and skilled. It felt good to compete at a level equal or higher to my size and skill level.“

Buhs explained that “although Vitaliy’s current grappling skills are rudimentary, at best, he used what little he knew to greedily establish position and end up with some surprising reversals. His father cheering him on from the stands was obviously a huge boost.”

“It meant a lot to me having my father see me compete,” said Vitaliy.


Yongmudo is an “all-around” martial art that includes strikes, kicks, throws, grappling, and joint-locks.

Being a Boss

Riley Witherell, 18, was again the most active MSMAP participant serving as Team Captain while competing in the intermediate and advanced divisions along with the demonstration event winning four medals (two gold, one silver, one bronze).

“I was so busy competing and coaching,” said Riley. “I won some, I lost some, but I was way more relaxed than at other competitions. The 4-round matches really flew by and seemed shorter than the 2-round matches. I was told by the corner judges that I received bonus points for getting knocked down but getting back up right away.”

“Several Cal black belt instructors told me how impressed they were with Riley’s effort and skills,” said Buhs. “They commented on the poise and fearlessness of this high-school girl and her growing command of various techniques especially against college students.”

“Riley is super-skillful,” added Vitaliy.

“Riley’s improvement in the martial arts can be attributed to two important factors,” explained Buhs. “First, she’s learned not to let her emotions be an obstacle to getting the job done. Second, she faces challenges by digging down deep within herself to do her best — always. This doesn’t mean it’s easy or she always gets the results she wants, but it does mean she makes a conscientious effort to give her all. It’s a reflection on her growing confidence that her anxiety is no longer about simply surviving; it’s about expecting to win every match.”

A Nail-Biter

Eli Jones, 46, had the “highlight match of the day” in winning a hard-fought gold medal according to Buhs.

“Dr. Norman Link, the head instructor of the U.C. Berkeley Yongmudo/Self-Defense club described Eli’s 4-round match against an opponent half his age as a ‘nail-biter’ with the score remaining very close after each round. The match really could have gone either way.”

“I was nervous in that first round,” said Eli. “I didn’t know what to expect. By the end of the first round I felt comfortable and just wanted to maintain my position without hurting myself. Looking back on it now, I wish I pushed myself a little harder and had shown more of my skills. However, at the end of the day, I was able drive my family home without any injuries.”

Vincent Zamova, 19, and Vitaliy’s younger brother, Vova, 13, “rounded out the team,” said Buhs. “Vincent competed in the intermediate division and showed a solid command of distance to control the action in the first round and scored points with well-timed kicks and punches. His agility and grappling technique in the second round paid off with a gold medal. Vova had an advanced match against another teen from San Francisco and took silver.”

Demo Action

The Jones family also competed in the demonstration event where they showed different skills like sacrifice throws, arm bars, and low kicks in a skit format where Tyler and Jackson teamed up to take down their father for a silver medal.

“It was a cute skit watching the kids taking down this big guy,” said Buhs. “Many of the other black belts in attendance were thinking the same thing I was: these kids are only going to get better. We’re witnesses to the start of their amazing martial arts journey.”

Riley and Vitaliy also competed in the demo competition where they showed parts of their black belt pre-arranged sparring routines: spinning and jumping kicks, flurries of strikes and blocks, and transitional skills — strikes to kicks to throws to immobilizing joint-locks.”

“They’re planning to return to Cal in April to take their respective black belt exams: Riley for 1st dan and Vitaliy for 2nd dan,” added Buhs. “This event gave them a nice test-run to further refine a few skills before their exams.”

More Information

MSMAP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing empowering activities for youth, adults, and families since 2001. They are located at 612-A S. Mt. Shasta Blvd. (tel:859-2024; web:; and on Facebook).

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