Punches and kicks took the place of jump shots and home runs at Patriots Park on Saturday.
Terry Newton's Tae kwon Do Academy Invitational Championships played host to 300 competitors and martial-arts demonstrators at the Patriots Park gym.
But competition was only part of what took place. Tournament sponsor and sixth-degree black belt Terry Newton said the competition offers several life lessons.
"Martial arts teaches you how to defend yourself, but it also gives you discipline and motivation," said Newton, who owns and operates a tae kwon do dojang, or training hall, in Columbia County. "It sets goals for you to strive for."
Newton said Saturday's tournament was one in a series of tournaments sanctioned by the International Tae Kwon Do Alliance that lead up to the World Championships in New Orleans in September.
Motivational speaker and fifth-degree black belt Danny Williams demonstrates tae kwon do during Terry Newton's Tae Kwon Do Academy Invitational Championship at Patriots Park on Saturday.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
Tae kwon do is one of the most popular martial arts, and hundreds of pupils of the discipline from all over the Southeast competed in Newton's tournament for a shot at being one of the 3,000 who will compete in the World Championships.
"It's a real honor to be here and to compete with so many great fighters," said fourth-degree black belt and Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Baker, who traveled to Columbia County from Norfolk, Va., where he is stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. "I've got around four of my shipmates with me here today, who are also avid martial artists.
"Being in the military, we're a group of guys looking to improve our fighting skills and physical, as well as mental, discipline. Tae kwon do has been a great way for us to do that."
The bouts were organized by age, size and degree of skill. Competitors ranged in age from 4 to 48.
"Being an instructor and fighter is really cool," said Clint Jung, 15, of Evans. "Pretty much all of my friends are the people I train with and it's a close-knit group. Now I'm getting to meet all of these other great fighters. Like I said, it's really cool."
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