Focused on the Moment

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Guest post by Ryan Lucas. Cross post from Team USA.

Along the tightrope of elite sports, very few athletes are as steady in balance as Carissa Fu.

In academics, the 25 year old is a superstar; she’s scheduled to finalize her master’s degree in forensic anthropology from the Boston University School of Medicine in September, having earned a B.A. from Princeton in 2011.

On the taekwondo mat, Fu is one of the game’s young American luminaries.

The 2014 National Collegiate Taekwondo Association’s Female Athlete of the Year, she is both accomplished and well-rounded; according to the NCTA website, this year she became the first female in Team USA history to qualify for both the poomsae and sparring events at the World University Taekwondo Championship.

Whether pushing herself in sparring or poomsae, Fu is all about equilibrium.

“I think both benefit events each other greatly, so it’s not like I’m just going to be doing one and, when that’s finished, doing the other,” she said earlier this month at the 2014 USA Taekwondo National Championships in San Jose, Calif. “I think they both definitely help strengthen each other.

“Being able to do both at a high level consistently, being able to stay healthy, knowing when I need to rest so I don’t overwork myself or get beyond the point in which I feel comfortable and just being able to manage myself in training will be a very challenging yet fruitful process for me.”

Off the mat, the tenor of Fu’s second half in 2014 will take her from the bliss of graduation at BU to the pangs of uncertainty in searching for a job. As a competitor, maintaining focus as she prepares for the World Poomsae Championships in October and the next incarnation of the USAT National Team Trials, the date of which is still undetermined, will be essential.

Replicating her success from the 2014 National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships—where she earned gold medals in sparring (bantam world class) and poomsae (pairs), along with a bronze medal in individual poomsae—and the 2014 USAT National Championships—where she hauled in four medals, including a gold in individual poomsae—will not be easy.

Fu’s poise as a multitalented athlete, therefore, has never been more important. And, in both of her events, she knows she must continue to rely upon the bulwark of her support system.

“At times, I think it can be difficult, but I think it’s just a matter of being able to manage it with my coach and my teammates in both poomsae and sparring,” Fu said. “There are a lot of us in Boston who do both, so at least we have that mutual community there to help each other.”

Fu can also move forward with the added confidence of having attained two major goals in 2014. Her performances in poomsae pairs and sparring at the 2014 NCAT Championships made for a memorable event.

“This was the first year I’d made the poomsae pairs with my partner, David Chan, so that was a huge accomplishment for both of us,” Fu said. “Just being able to make the team in that was special because it’s always such a stacked event.

“Then, in sparring, people having been noticing that I’ve been knocking at the door for some time, so that was definitely quite a rush. I was able to get through the day in a double-elimination bracket, so it was definitely a very amazing day.”

With her thoughts aligned in the moment, Fu is reluctant to envision her place in taekwondo a few years into the future.

The arc of her course through the sport—beginning in Southern California at age 7, moving to Beijing with her family at age 14, taking a hiatus late in high school to focus on college applications, restarting in competition upon her return to the U.S.—and the difficulty of the tasks ahead lead her to take nothing for granted.

“I’d like to see where I could go, both in poomsae and in sparring,” Fu said. “You never know, and we’ll see how things progress in terms of being able to go to U.S. Opens with points and all that, so I think it has to be one step at a time right now.

“I was able to become a Senior National Team member in poomsae, so we’ll see how far I can go in terms of my placement in the world. Then for sparring, we’ll see how I’m able to do with the USA Team Trials, but it’d be wonderful to progressively go up the levels and just take it one step at a time.

“I would hope that maybe the Olympics are in sight, but we’ll see. I want to take it slowly at this point right now.”

Team USA Earns 6 Medals at 13th World University Taekwondo Championship

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The US National Collegiate Taekwondo Team earned one gold and five bronze medals at the 13th World University Taekwondo Championship (WUTC) in Hohhot, China. The championship was held over seven days, from June 8-14, and was contested by collegiate athletes from over 30 countries. The six medals earned in Hohhot were the US collegiate team’s best result since 2004, and newly minted -73kg sparring world collegiate champion Jacqueline Galloway was the the United States’ first female collegiate world gold medalist since 2002.

In addition to Galloway’s gold medal, bronze medalists included Yessica Wiryawan (womens -49kg sparring), Jared Reed (men’s -80kg sparring), Chase Graham (men’s -63kg sparring), Jaysen Ishida (men’s -74kg sparring), and the men’s team sparring event participants, Joseph Aguon, Justin Bretz, Jaysen Ishida, Jared Reed and William Connick.

The competition began on June 8 with men’s and women’s individual poomsae. Kody Han (University of California, Berkeley) advanced from the semifinals to the finals, where he placed 7th overall. Thanh-Van Huynh (Kennesaw State University) also advanced from the semifinals to the finals, where she also placed 7th overall. Poomsae competition continued on June 9 with the mixed pair and team divisions. Pair Carissa Fu (Boston University) and David Chan (MGH Institute) placed 9th in the semifinals, missing the final round by a small margin. The women’s team of Fu, Miyako Yerick (University of Texas at Austin) and Michelle Chen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) placed 5th, missing the medals by just one place, and the men’s team of Alvin Jong (University of California, Davis), Albert Jong (San Jose State University) and Lance Supnet (California State University, East Bay) placed 6th overall.

On June 10, the sparring competition began. Joseph Aguon III (-54kg, Tarrant County College), advanced with a score of 15-8 over host country China to advance to the second round where he lost to the eventual gold medalist from the Philippines 2-14. Devon Lewis (-57kg, Germanna Community College), lost in the first round 1-8 to the host country, China. Samery Moras (-46kg, University of Utah), lost in the quarterfinals 0-4 to the eventual gold medalist from Korea, and Abraham Lee (-68kg, Duke University), lost 6-14 to Spain in the first round.

The second day of sparring was contested on June 11. Yessica Wiryawan (-49kg, University of California, Berkeley) advanced 5-3 over Russia and again over host country China 3-3 (3-0 OT) to advance to the semifinals, where she lost 2-15 to Spain, earning a bronze medal for the team USA, the team’s first of the competition. Jared Reed (-80kg, Laney College) also had an impressive run, advancing 16-3 over Oman, then 17-15 over Mexico to advance to the semifinals. He had an outstanding 14 points in the second round against Mexico to come from behind and take the lead. In the semifinals, Reed lost 4-10 to the gold medalist from Korea in the semifinals, finishing with a bronze medal. Blanca “Jenny” Quezada (-67kg, Arizona State University), won her first match 2-1 to advance over Mexico, and lost 1-14 in the next round to China. Justin Bretz (-58kg, Sinclair Community College) lost 6-9 in the first round to Mexico.

On June 12, the third day of sparring was contested. Jaysen Ishida (-74kg, University of Hawaii at Monoa) earned a bronze medal, winning 8-2 over Mexico. He next fought Russia, over whom he advanced 8-4. He lost a close 9-12 match to Thailand in the semifinals. Emilia Morrow (-62kg, University of Miami) advanced 18-0 over Oman, and was stopped in overtime at the quarterfinals by the eventual gold medalist from Chinese Taipei 4-4(0-1 OT). Danielle Harrison (+73kg, Johnson and Wales University) lost her first match 2-9 to Poland, and Jon Price (+87kg, SUNY Cortland) also lost his first match 2-9 to Mexico.

On June 13, the final day of individual sparring, the US earned two additional medals. Jacqueline Galloway (73kg, Collin College) earned the first gold medal for team USA at a collegiate world event since 2002. She advanced over China in the quarterfinals by a score of 8-1. In the semifinals, she met Korea, where the match was 2-2 after 3 rounds – she won with an exciting overtime point (1-0). She won in the finals over Chinese Taipei 4-2 to take the gold! Chase Graham (-63kg, Golden West College) also earned a bronze medal, winning 13-6 over Russia, and again 6-5 in the quarters to advance over Germany. In the semifinals, he lost a very close match to Egypt that was sent to overtime on a last-second kyongo 7-7, where he lost (0-1) to earn the bronze. Also fighting was Carissa Fu (-53kg, Boston University), who lost 12-15 to Turkey in her first match, and Will Connick (-87kg, University of California, Berkeley), who lost in the quarterfinals to the gold medalist from Korea by a score of 3-12.

The competition culminated in a team sparring event, the first of its kind for the WUTC. Each country selected 5 athletes to compete in a head-to-head format where each athlete sparred a single 2-minute round against their counterpart, with the first team to 3 wins advancing in the single elimination bracket. The men’s team of Joseph Aguon III, Justin Bretz, Jaysen Ishida, Jared Reed and William Connick earned a bronze medal, advancing by walkover over Egypt, and then going out 0-3 to Korea in the semifinals. The female team of Samery Moras, Carissa Fu, Devon Lewis, Blanca Quezada and Emilia Morrow met eventual gold medalist Thailand in their first match, and although they lost 0-3, each of the matches were close and decided by just one kick.

The head of the team was NCTA president Russell Ahn. The directors of the team were Dong Il Shin and John Jae Lee. The head coach was Steven Rosbarsky, and the head poomsae coach was Daniel Chuang. Also coaching poomsae was Alicia Zhou. The sparring coaches were Head Coach Steven Rosbarsky, Brian Singer, Christina Bayley, Sophia Chung, Jason Hwang and Daniel Chuang. The team managers were Rex Hatfield and Heidi Fagerquist. The team doctor was Sherri Lashomb.

Jared Jaysen Male Team Yessica Chase Full Team Jackie

2014 National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships held at the University of California, Berkeley, US National Collegiate Team selected for World University Taekwondo Championships

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The National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) held the 39th National Collegiate Taekwondo Championships on April 4-6, 2014 in Berkeley, California at the University of California, Berkeley. The tournament was hosted by tournament director and NCTA founder Ken Min, and presided over by NCTA president Russell Ahn.  Over 400 athletes participated from over 100 different colleges and universities.  At the conclusion of the tournament, 26 athletes were selected to represent the United States at the World University Taekwondo Championships in Hohhot, China on June 8-14, 2014.

Nine athletes were selected to represent the United States in the poomsae divisions.  Kody Han (University of California, Berkeley) won the men’s individual division, and Thanh-Van Huynh (Kennesaw State University) won the women’s individual division.  Carissa Fu (Boston University) and David Chan (MGH Institute) won the mixed pair division.  Albert Jong (San Jose State University), Alvin Jong (University of California, Davis), and Lance Supnet (California State University, East Bay) earned the men’s team division spot, and Margaret Kim (University of California, San Diego), Stephany Kim (University of California, Los Angeles) and Saejin Yi (California State University) won the female team spot. However, because the team of Kim, Kim and Yi cannot attend the team trip, they will be replaced by first alternates, Carissa Fu, Miyako Yerick (University of Texas at Austin), and Michelle Chen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Fu is a six time collegiate poomsae team member and earned a bronze medal at the 2010 World University Taekwondo Championships in women’s team poomsae. Yerick and Alvin Jong are three time collegiate poomsae team members, and Supnet and Chen are returning for their second national collegiate poomsae team.

The sparring divisions were contested in a single elimination bracket, with double elimination beginning at the semifinal rounds. In the women’s sparring divisions, this year’s team members are Samery Moras (46 kg, University of Utah), Yessica Wiryawan  (49 kg, University of California, Berkeley), Carissa Fu (53 kg, Boston University), Devon Lewis (57 kg, Germanna Community College), Emilia Morrow (62 kg, University of Miami), Blanca “Jenny” Quezada (67 kg, Arizona State University), Jacqueline Galloway (73 kg, Collin College), and Danielle Harrison (over 73 kg, Johnson and Wales University). Quezada and Harrison are three time US collegiate team members. Moras and Galloway are both returning for their second team berth.

In the men’s divisions, the winners were Joseph Aguon III (54 kg, Tarrant County College), Justin Bretz (58 kg, Sinclair Community College), Chase Graham (63 kg, Golden West College), Abraham Lee (68 kg, Duke University), Jaysen Ishida (74 kg, University of Hawaii at Manoa), Jared Reed (80 kg, Laney College), William Connick (87 kg, University of California, Berkeley), and Jonathan Price (over 87 kg, SUNY Cortland).  On the team, Reed is a two time member of the US collegiate team.

The female athlete of the year was Carissa Fu. Fu qualfied for the poomsae team for the sixth consecutive year in addition to clinching her first sparring team berth at bantamweight. She is the first female athlete to qualify for both the poomsae and sparring collegiate teams.The male athlete of the year was William Connick. Connick won the 87 kg division and was the runner up in the 87kg division at the 2014 US National Team Trials in Colorado Springs. The freshman athlete of the year was Joseph Aguon III, who won the male finweight division during his first year of collegiate eligibility.

The coach of the year was Sophia Chung of the University of California, Berkeley, who coached both Wiryawan and Connick to national team spots in the sparring divisions and coached Berkeley to first place in the Championship division.  The referees of the year were Melissa Johnson (female) and Samir Zerbouh (male).

In the team standings, the championship (black belt) division was won by the University of California, Berkeley, with Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles tying for the second place spot. The overall (combined) division was won by Brown University, with Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley, tying for second place. The novice (color belt) division was won by Brown University, with Princeton University placing second and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology placing third.

Dr. Russell Ahn reappointed as Vice Chairman of Youth and Collegiate Committee of WTF

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The UC Martial Arts Program Endowed Director, Dr. Russell Ahn has been reappointed as the Vice Chairman of Youth and Collegiate Committee of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).  The founding director of the UC Martial Arts Program, Dr. Ken Min served as the Collegiate Committee Chair from 1981 until 2008.  Dr. Ahn has served as the Chairman of Collegiate Committee of the WTF from 2009 until 2010.  After taekwondo became a core sport of the Youth Olympics, the committee expanded to become the “Youth and Collegiate Committee” and Dr. Ahn has continued to serve as the Vice Chairman of the committee. Thus, Dr. Ahn has succeeded Dr. Min’s mission of university taekwondo development in the international community through WTF. Currently, Dr. Ahn is also serving as the president of the US National Collegiate Taekwondo Association and serves on the board of directors for USA Taekwondo, the national governing body for taekwondo in the United States.

Dr. Ahn will continue to pursue his goals and visions on the educational values of taekwondo and the academic development of taekwondo.  As the director of the University of California Martial Arts Program (UCMAP), he has been working hard to promote UCMAP’s mission through his involvement with the campus, community, national governing bodies and international organizations of taekwondo.

“It is the purpose of the Martial Arts Program to preserve the philosophy, techniques, and traditions of martial arts and to develop a scientific understanding of the physical and spiritual implications of human performance.”

2014 NCTA Championships Results

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Results for the 2014 NCTA Championships are now available on the results page.

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