While Dons Athletics have most notably shined through basketball, baseball, and soccer, the USF Taekwondo Club is representing the Hilltop on the mat with their kicks, hits, and punches.
USF’s Taekwondo’s Club is gearing up to compete at UC Davis’ annual Fall Open Tournament on Nov. 19, which will be the club’s first tournament of the semester.
The USF Taekwondo Club practices on the semi-competitive level of taekwondo, which entails more physicality than traditional taekwondo. The club is a member of USA Taekwondo, the governing body of taekwondo for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Taekwondo is a traditional Korean Martial Art which involves not only kicking and punching techniques, but also teaches focus and self-discipline. According to the Olympics, all taekwondo matches “last over three rounds of two minutes each, with a one minute break between rounds.” The website explains that “the objective of each competitor is to score points by landing blows and kicks on their opponent’s torso or head or to win by knockout.”
It is further described that “blows must be delivered through a straight punching technique using the knuckle part of a tightly clenched fist. The kicks that count are those delivered using any part of the foot below the ankle.”
Brisbane Martial Arts describes the ranking of taekwondo belts as, “The first being white, which you receive when you commence training. The following belts are yellow, blue, red, red/black, Cho Dan Bo, black/white and black belt. On each of the color belts you wear stripes indicating your level of attainment on that belt.”
The USF team participates in local tournaments such as the annual University of California Open Taekwondo Championships hosted at UC Berkeley and the American Open Taekwondo Championships held at California State University, East Bay.
The club prepares students who wish to upgrade their belts and compete in major tournaments every semester. Junior kinesiology major and president of USF Taekwondo Club, Jake Gonzaga, currently has a third degree black belt.
Gonzaga has competed nationwide and internationally. He has traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, Taiwan, South Korea, among other nations to compete in world championships.
“During training, we try our best to simulate the competition format and visualize what it will be like during the competition. Sparring requires a lot of stamina and strength so getting our bodies in shape is a top priority,” said Gonzaga.
Taekwondo invites students from all experience levels to participate. Practices occur on Monday and Wednesday from 5-6:30 PM at the Koret Combative room. If you are interested in joining, follow @usfca.tkd on Instagram and check out the Dons website for more information.