Tae Kwon Do tournament rocks the Stott

Fights broke out all over the Stott Center on Saturday. Of course, that was the idea.

The Northwest Tae Kwon Do Association, along with the Tae Kwon Do clubs at Portland State and neighboring colleges, sponsored a regional tournament that featured competitors of all ages and skill levels vying for medals.

Phil Chin, president of the Portland State Tae Kwon Do club, described how the tournament was held.

“The instructor that works with the PSU club is Master Hung Choi. He and his father, Tae Hong Choi, the two of them together are part of the Northwest Tae Kwon Do Association. They have Tae Kwon Do studios in Portland and in Beaverton. They also oversee Tae Kwon Do operations at Lewis and Clark and at Mount Hood Community College,” Chin explained.

“In November we had another large tournament like this one at MHCC, and we helped them out. Every March we have our tournament here and the other schools return the favor. I mainly helped coordinate this one. I was there from like seven in the morning till like eight at night.” Chin said.

It was obvious that the tournament drew a large crowd of competitors and spectators. The gym was packed and the halls of the Stott Center were somewhat difficult to walk through. There were lines of people in white uniforms taking turns kicking the paddles their coaches held. It seemed that even the small children were kicking hard enough to knock a grown man down.

“The tournament is divided by age, gender, weight class and rank. There’s a big mix of Choi students, collegiate clubs and individuals. Anybody can do it,” Chin said.

Early in the day it appeared that everybody was doing it. The tournament began with the younger and lower ranked competitors, some of whom seemed not quite old enough to be walking, let alone jumping into the air and kicking each other quite accurately in the head and chest.

Later in the day, when most of the younger competitors’ families had left, the higher divisions began competing, and the higher skill levels and stronger attacks were all the more obvious.

The fights are not mere brawls, though. The competitors carefully measure their attacks and the fights are very carefully scored.

“The key is to kick the chest or the head. To be awarded a point, there must be a trembling shock. It is full contact so it has to be clear that the opponent felt it.

“You can use hand techniques but there must be the same trembling shock and there are no hand techniques to the head allowed because the object in Tae Kwon Do competition is to use mainly the feet and if we allowed punches to the head we would end up with a boxing match,” Chin said.

The Portland State club had an impressive showing this year, according to Chin.”We did very well. I think PSU took six gold medals,” said Chin.

This year we have 27 active members, up from 17 last year. The Tae Kwon Do club is doing very well,” Chin said.

For information about the club or future tournaments, contact Phil Chin at 503-754-7728.