Jun 15, 2016
Competing in the Berkeley event for the 10th year in a row, MSMAP’s nine-member team was divided into six people in taekwondo and four in yongmudo. Team Captain and MSMAP senior black belt Vitaliy Tveritin, 14, competed in both events.
MSMAP Head Coach Chuck Buhs explained that “taekwondo includes two distinct types competition: forms and sparring. Forms are a series of prearranged techniques emphasizing balance, power, and precision. Sparring is full-contact kicking and punching above the belt. It highlights the creative and spontaneous action of martial arts. Yongmudo competition focuses on certain skills for each round. Our team focused on the two-round divisions: kicking and punching in round one and non-submission wrestling in round two.”
“This year, we emphasized “acting like a boss,” continued Buhs. “Our entire team did just that. People put in a lot of training time and the results speak for themselves. We brought a few medals back to Mount Shasta and everyone is eager for more training. And, this is what it’s all about: train, go out and test ourselves, return to the studio for more training to be ready for facing bigger challenges in the future.”
“The yongmudo portion of the competition was really cool and interesting,” said Vitaliy, who competed at Berkeley for the sixth time. ”I have to admit technique is as essential as aggressiveness and plain power. For taekwondo, adapting my strategy was very beneficial. I learned that defense is important, but managing your attacks is equally important because you can’t score if you don’t kick. And, not getting kicked matters.”
Vitaliy won a bronze medal in forms and gold in sparring.
“We’ve been working on having a variety of attacks,” said Buhs. “In this competition, Vitaliy and others put it all together including being more unpredictable and moving at unexpected angles to confuse the opponent. My friends at Cal who have seen Vitaliy over the past few years remarked at how much he’s improved each time they’ve seen him in action. Hopefully, he’ll take the next step in his training and start preparing for his second degree black belt exam soon.”
Chase Lapthorne, 13, was the most surprising competitor according to Buhs.
“Chase started taekwondo this past January and, technically, is a beginner a white belt but he and his sister really wanted to be part of the team and compete,” said Buhs. “It turns out, he’s a fearless kid. He easily avoided the other boy’s attacks with skillful footwork and responded with precise counter-attacks like he’s been doing this for much longer than just a few months.”
“It was really fun,” said Chase. “I liked competing and sparring because it lets me compare myself against other people. It was nice actually winning something.”
He won bronze in forms and gold in sparring despite having a history of stage fright. When asked about the hundreds of spectators in attendance, Chase replied that, “I don’t liked being watched. But, I was totally comfortable during the competition.”
His grandfather, Joe Lapthorne, added that “it was good for the kids to be in the big city.”
Buhs shared that the biggest nail-biter match was Niko Mann, 12, “facing off against a larger, very aggressive boy in sparring. There were a few inadvertent punches to Nikko’s face which stopped the action and were correctly called as penalties by the referee although that didn’t make Nikko feel any better. We noticed that the other kid was doing a lot of back kicks that ended up swinging wide. Niko made the adjustment to let the kid do his kicks, keep missing, and then come back with a strong front kick to the belly as the kid spun around. Niko followed the plan and it worked like a charm as he repeatedly scored with textbook counters.”
“I guess I developed the courage to keep going,” explained Niko. “I was also excited because it’s Berkeley. It was great being in a stadium that big. The demonstration, the size of the stadium, the number of people all doing martial arts it was crazy!”
“This was an exciting and stressful match,” added Buhs. “Niko not only showed a lot of heart in bouncing back from several hard fouls, but he also showed a lot of composure changing his strategy to take advantage of the openings his opponent gave him.”
Niko won gold medals in both forms and sparring.
Other MSMAP team members competing in taekwondo included Odin Nichols, (12; silver in sparring), Summer Lapthorne (9; silver in sparring), and Nova Tynsky (11; gold medals in both forms and sparring).
James Osterberg, 20, Frank Cortese, 36, and Shane Klebig, 34, competed in the yongmudo competition. Collectively, they won a collection of gold, silver, and bronze medals.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect when signing up for the UC Open other than potentially getting myself beat up,” Klebig said. “I thought the competition was fantastic! It was well organized and very competitive. I also felt a sense of camaraderie with the people I didn’t know.”
When asked about the value of training, Klebig replied that “training is needed to compete at the best of your abilities. It’s also important so you can take care of your opponents.”
“It was fun watching everyone compete in yongmudo,” said Buhs. “They’ve been chomping at the bit to see what they can do against other people and they got their wish. They did exactly what they trained to do and the other black belts commented on their competitiveness. For yongmudo, this means using a variety of skills against their opponents for a sustained period of time. It’s exhausting.”
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