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Tae kwon do trains with high-caliber talent
Tae kwon do is one of the newest sports at Liberty, starting approximately a year ago.
It was created as a club sport in 2012 under the leadership of Head Coach Jesse Wilson, who received his black belt from the legendary ninth Dan Grandmaster Ju Hun Kim.
The club began with only nine people in 2012, but quickly rose to 20 members earlier this season, according to the tae kwon do club page. Since then, the club has been expanding in size and reputation.
“During this short period of time, we were able to compete in several local and regional tournaments and one national tournament, in which yellow belt Leah Deaton won a grand championship for women’s beginners division,” Wilson said. “We (also) aided in forming a group alliance called Atlantic Collegiate Alliance of tae kwon do (ACAT).”
The program is very much competition based, which is slightly different from the normal way tae kwon do is taught. Martial arts are usually learned for self-defense and enjoyment.
However, since it is a club sport at Liberty, the emphasis is on competition.
The team has made its way into the Eastern Collegiate Tae Kwon Do Conference (ECTC), which means that the team competes against opponents such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Princeton University.
But the level of competition did not stop the women from placing fourth at a tournament last year at Cornell University.
Aside from success in competition, Liberty has partnered with 1988 Olympic gold medalist Arlene Limas, who helped to train the team before the season began.
According to powerkixusa.com, Limas has also won several national championships and is currently the owner of Power Kix USA, a mixed martial arts program in Stafford, Va. Limas has already put on training clinics for the team, including a session that featured Britain’s Olympic tae kwon do team Head Coach Joseph Salim.
“There are many advantages of having Arlene Limas support the Liberty tae kwon do team,” Wilson said. “Just being able to say that a gold medalist is backing your team is an honor that stands all on its own, but this also aids in recruitment. I have already received emails from high school students who are looking at colleges to enroll (in) next year, wanting more information about our program simply because of Arlene.”
Wilson said he is excited about the future and believes his team is close to being one of the top teams in its conference.
“I would say that with the instruction … and training opportunities given to us by Arlene Limas, we are well on our way to becoming one of the top competitors in the ECTC,” Wilson said. “We have already accomplished that in ACAT in just a year and a half.”
According to the Liberty Flames club sports website, the team meets every Monday from 8-9:30 p.m. and each Tuesday and Thursday from 8:15-9:45 p.m.
“Generally speaking, anyone can join the team as long as they have heart and courage to stand in front of someone who is preparing to attempt to kick them in the head,” Wilson said.