Saturday , 26 May 2018

22nd Annual Texas Invitational Taekwondo Championships a Success

22nd Annual Texas Invitational Taekwondo Championships a Success

22nd Annual Texas Invitational Taekwondo Championships a Success

More than 100 Martial Artists and 120 spectators from across North Texas converged on the Plano Independent School District’s Robinson Razorback Gymnasium Saturday March 5th for the 22nd Annual Texas Invitational Taekwondo Championships hosted by the Sun Lee Texas Taekwondo Center in Richardson. The event serves as a good annual starting point for year round competitors per event coordinator Master Jason Lee. Many students will continue on to the Texas State Taekwondo Championships held later this month at the Gaylord Texan. North Texas Kwans(schools) such as Farfans – Arlington, NTA – Coppell, Rowlett Martial Arts Center, Sun Lee Texas Taekwondo Center – Richardson, Pinaroc Taekwondo – Mansfield and Master Min’s Taekwondo – Richardson sent athletes of all ages and belt ranks to the event.

Locally, Reid’s Martial Arts Academy(RMAA) and Vasquez Taekwondo Academy (VTA) both of McKinney sent athletes to the Invitational as well. Master Julian Vasquez Jr. (VTA) was very pleased with the attitudes and efforts of his students. For a full report on McKinney Kwans please link to McKinney Martial Artists Make Good Showing at Texas Invitational Championships.

Activities at PISD’s Razorback gymnasium began around 9:15 with precision, artistry and discipline taking center stage as athletes competed in    Poomsae(poom – say).   Poomsae, often referred to as “forms”, are a pattern of pre-arranged Taekwondo moves.  The martial artist demonstrates turns, blocks, kicks and strikes throughout the pattern.  When properly done the form should clearly simulate the practitioner defending against multiple opponents.  While older Black belts often demonstrate more lengthy and exacting forms this year’s Texas Invitational saw strong forms from all competitors.  Some particularly fierce and exacting patterns were shown by some of the youngest contestants.   With Poomsae complete competition turned to Gyroogi (Guy ROO gee).  Often the main spectator draw of competitions, Gyroogi or Sparring calls on discipline, determination, stamina, strategy, perseverance and an indomitable spirit.  This year’s Invitational saw spirited competition in all age groups.  Some of the tournaments youngest and most junior competitors executed tremendous turning kicks. Excellent movement and timing were also shown by older students.  Heart, passion and perseverance were the staple of the adults with several matches and demonstrations.  One of the highlights of the day was a Black Belt Gold Medal match between two “young guns”, Adrian Garza of Pinaroc Taekwondo and Isaac Lopez of Vasquez Taekwondo Academy.  They provided a very dynamic, fast paced, and athletic demonstration, complete with multiple shifting strategies and tactics throughout.  Several spectators asked what the score was when the match ended and upon questioning revealed they were caught up in the mastery of skills demonstrated by the two athletes and forgot about the score.   

Back in 1989 Grand Master Sun Lee and other Masters in the Dallas area saw tournaments as an opportunity to gather together Martial Artists of all ages in order to test themselves against each other in friendly competition.  In creating the Texas Invitational Championships Grand Master Lee envisioned an event for martial artists of all ability levels and experience, including those who are new to competition.  Continuing, Master Jason Lee explains, “We have worked very hard to create a Friendship Games competition.” Nothing could be more evident of this than the final session of the day which was Kyukpa competition.     Kyukpa (kYuck – Pa) translates to English as “Breaking”.   Pine boards were the object of this year’s Kyukpa.  For competition, boards were suspended above and parallel to the gym floor.  The object is for the athlete to use a running high jump kick to break the board.  A miss or the board failing to break means elimination from competition.  The height of the board is raised each round until only one competitor is left.  Competitors gathered en masse at the north end of Razorback Gym and cheered each other on, willing each successive contestant to reach higher and break the boards.  Parents and spectators eagerly got in on the cheering and clapping.  

For Master Lee far more is at work here than sparring techniques and form drills.  The competitive arena provides a crucible for students to learn first hand the lessons of patience, perseverance, self control, kindness and respect for others.  The task is certainly daunting.  And yet, while score was kept and medals awarded all athletes met the challenge of the arena with success on this day.  For Master Lee the opportunity to learn core values for life is far more important than the color and weight of the medal hanging around one’s neck.  Scanning PISD’s Razorback gymnasium toward the end of the day during the Kyukpa competition showed that the invisible lines which had clearly separated each Kwan(school) and their associated parents at the beginning of the day had completely disappeared, replaced by intermixed groups of spectators.  On the floor Taekwondo uniforms with different Kwan logos mixed together in a Taekwondo tapestry swirl.  Alongside and interspersed between all like salt and pepper were volunteers, referees and other Masters to which Master Lee took special effort to credit and give gracious thanks when noting, “Without the selfless referees who donate their hours of work, the Masters who train their students, and the volunteers who come together for the sake of our Taekwondo school none of this happens.”  

Grand Master Sun Lee, Master Jason Lee and humble volunteers, mission accomplished – again for the 22nd time!!  

The Texas Invitational is but one map point on the Martial Artist’s journey through the proving ground of life.  For some it is a beginning, for others a reunion and for all a test and measuring point.  Do you measure yourself by progress made or jobs accomplished?  Master Jason Lee would tell you, “View mastery as a continuous journey and not a state of being.  Not as a single accomplishment but rather the continuous act of accomplishing, improving and accomplishing.”  Had you been a spectator at the 22nd Annual Texas Invitational you would also have clearly seen that the journey of Taekwondo is far more than blocks, strikes, kicks, points scored, matches won and medals awarded.  Look between the skill sets and beyond the medals.  What you will find is self control and discipline that lead to humility in service, respect for others and a tenacious perseverance that creates an indomitable spirit for life.  This is Taekwondo and it is a journey for all ages.

My gracious thanks to Grand Master Sun Lee and Master Jason Lee for their assistance at the tournament and for providing personal and email interview time to help me understand the history and purpose of the Texas Invitational.  

For pictures and video of the event please visit the following url:


Covering the Martial Arts in McKinney

Cal Van Wagner

진실, 용기, 명예, 겸손, 서비스


Story: Cal Van Wagner

Pictures: Kim Van Wagner, Sun Lee Texas Taekwondo Center

Video footage: Kim Dawson

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