Taekwondo Club Fifth In INCTL TournamentBy Christina Park
The MIT Sport Taekwondo Club sent a 27 member team to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the Ivy/Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League (INCTL) tournament hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. After a long day of competition, MIT continued to make its mark, placing fifth overall.
The tournament, which took place on Saturday, December 1st, began with forms competition. Though not everyone placed, many members of the team received scores in the top third of their division, showing significant improvement since the last tournament at Cornell University. Christina S. Park ’02 placed second in the women’s black belt division.
Margaret H. Cho ’04 and Baochi T. Nguyen G tied for second place and repeated their form for the judges for a tie-breaker. Cho prevailed, and they nearly swept the women’s green/blue belt division as they had at Cornell, taking the silver and bronze, respectively.
Andrew T. Yue ’03 added to the medal count in the men’s green/blue belt division, tying for third place and winning the tiebreaker. Notably, Park and Yue performed ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) forms, indicative of the Sport Taekwondo Club’s integration of both ITF and WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) style forms into their curriculum.
After a brief break, sparring began with the black belt teams, featuring co-captain Chinedum O. Osuji G in his last INCTL tournament after eight years in the League. Osuji teamed up with Christopher K. Wilmer ’02 to create a two man team. Although they lacked a middleweight, they easily advanced into the quarterfinals with a definite win over NYU. Wilmer did not win his next match against Penn, but he became more aggressive as the match progressed, moving his opponent out of the ring several times. Although he was still injured from his recent performance at the World Taekwondo Championships (the highest level of Taekwondo competition in the world), Osuji effortlessly sailed through both his matches, winning both without once having been scored upon. As he graduates, the team will miss his presence as a teammate, coach, captain, and friend.
The women’s black belt A1 team (Alice S. Chau ’04, Tiffany A. Kanaga ’04, Park) faced Cornell A2 in the first round. Park easily defeated their heavyweight, setting the tone for her teammates. Though this was Kanaga’s first tournament in the black belt division in WTF Taekwondo, she stepped up to the challenge and won a close match in the middleweight division with the consistent thuds of her back leg turning kick on her opponent’s hogu. Cornell forfeited their lightweight match and MIT advanced to the semi-finals, where they lost to Penn 2-1, finishing the day in third place.
Though all the men’s and women’s color belt teams fought hard, the competition was just too stiff and they had tough first round bracketing. All four men’s teams and two women’s teams were eliminated in the first round, though many individuals learned how to block to the head properly by the end of the day.
The MVPs of the day were in the men’s white/yellow belt team (Alex S. Park G, Vladislav Y. Gabovich G, Colin E. Champ ’03), who brought home the gold. Though there was some questionable refereeing in their quarterfinal match, they emerged victorious over Cornell, Yale, NYU, and Penn. Despite an injury to his instep, Alex Park finished all four of his four rounds with energy. Champ’s height and flexibility were unmatched as he responded to every attack with a head kick. Having attended the last tournament, Gabovich anchored his team with his experience, knocking Yale into the head table with a powerful sidekick. The team as a whole showed so much heart and positive attitudes throughout the day, making all of their coaches proud.
This tournament finished a successful fall season for the Sport Taekwondo Club, now only a little over a year old. The team will resume training over IAP for their next INCTL tournament at Princeton University in March.