March 20

A look at the Auvenshines’ 12th tournament

Caitlan Rohman placed 1st in women’s 16-34 colored belt forms.

Sempai Adair Rodriguez placed 1st in men’s 16-34 colored belt forms and weapons.

I placed 2nd in men’s 16-34 black belt forms.

Now, onto the details…

I’ve always enjoyed visiting the Auvenshines’ tournament. We first went down in 2007 with a big group of at least a dozen students held in a different venue. Our number of competitors has dwindled since then, but I still think we are an enthusiastic crew who enjoys competing and represents our school well.

The gymnasium and Lincoln Land Community College was a sea of white as mainly tae kwon do practitioners packed the space kicking pads, showing off their flexibility and letting out the occasional shout.

One of the main differences between this tournament and other we usually attend is grappling that takes place in the center ring. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to watch the grapplers do their thing as I was competing and then judging.

The Auvenshines do their best to make for small divisions. The largest ones that I saw had seven in them. Personally, I may have split them into divisions of three and four. That way, two sets of 1st, 2nd and 3rd could be handed out instead of just one. But I think everybody went home with a medal or a trophy, and the last four tied for fourth place.

I judged for a division of what looked like ages 6-9, which is what I think I heard somebody say. A girl won her breaking division, and I’ve never seen a child so ecstatic. The grin she wore from ear to ear made it look like she’d just won the Olympic gold medal and the lottery at the same exact instant.

In my opinion, the concessions could have been run better by having more food available. I was turned down when I asked for a piece of cheese pizza and then a soft pretzel, but somebody wound up making me a pretzel anyway. They just seemed disorganized. Though that fell on the LLCC volleyball players who were in charge, not the Auvenshines themselves.

It was nice seeing Mr. Steve Aldus, who contributed to us an article on why he teaches, there with his wife Kim. Both were very friendly the few times I saw them away from the ring in which they were judging.

As I stood on the edges of the black belt meeting, I also received a friendly nudge from Mr. Kevin Roberts, who wrote a great piece for us on commercial belt factories. Mr. Roberts brought his wife, Jessie, their daughter and nine other competitors who did very well. I judged one of his white belts, who received 1st place in both his forms and breaking divisions, and it’s evident – in my opinion – from that student that Mr. Roberts is a quality instructor.

We also received lots of information for tournaments coming up in the area that I’ll put together in another post later this week, but I wanted to post one here real quick…

2011 USA Tae Kwon Do Championships
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Kalamazoo, MI
Registration starts at $60.00.

I realize this tournament is far away. Ms. Harrison noted that as she handed the flyer to me, but said she had promised to hand them out. For her effort in pushing this tournament, I wanted to post it here as well. If you are interested, please leave a comment or e-mail me for more information.

March 14

Own the ring: Tips for a martial arts competition

You’ve spent the last week fine-tuning your form by lowering your stance that extra half an inch, shouting louder on that kiai than you ever imagined and you’re more than prepared to step in front of your judges.

But once you step inside your ring to compete, something happens. You get nervous. You speak quieter than usual. You’re not the level of performer you had envisioned.

I’ve seen martial arts students lose all their self-confidence as soon as they bow before the judges panel. And I’ve even seen a poor girl cry as she announced her name.

Instead of being timid, own the ring.

You only get a few minutes at the most to make your impression. Don’t spend it acting like you’d rather be somewhere else. You paid the money to travel to and register for the event, you put in the time to practice and your friends and family are cheering you on.

Take over whatever ring you’re in. Perform like you did at home with nobody watching. You have been given an opportunity where no one else can compete in that space but you. Seize that opportunity and run with it – that ring is yours.

I’m not saying to be a jerk about it. You aren’t above your other competitors. Always be respectful to them and your judges. But from the time you bow in to the ring to the time you bow out of it, the spotlight is on you.

Walk with a purpose.

Bow cleanly.

Announce your name the loudest and with the most confidence.

Perform your kata like it’s the most important thing on your mind instead of wondering whether the event’s concessions will feature pizza or hot dogs.

Draw everybody’s eyes to you and make an impression.

If you really like something somebody else did that got them a high score, steal it. Just know sure you can do it if you haven’t tried it before.

The martial arts instill confidence. Just because you’re going to a martial arts tournament doesn’t mean it has to be a scary venture. Take the time to meet other people and network, asking about their arts and politely asking why they do something that you have been taught to do differently.

So make the most of your efforts to get to the competition day by making yourself the star for that pair of minutes where all the eyes are on you.

Own the ring.

March 11

Upcoming: Morrow’s 36th Semi-annual Karate & Kung Fu Tournament & Black Belt Championships

We have visited Mr. Morrow’s tournament before, and he’s sent me info for his latest tournament on Saturday, May 14, 2011 – the 36th Semi-annual Karate & Kung Fu Tournament and Black Belt Championships.

Mr. Morrow will host three events – forms, sparring and weapons. He will also include a 40-years-and-older black belt division. A black belt Grand Championship match will take place with a four-foot trophy on the line.

The cost is $30 for all events. The spectator’s fee is $4.

Traditionally, our crew has always done well at his tournament in the several times we’ve competed there. Mr. Morrow and his students are always friendly and we’ve found it to be a great tournament for our students to learn from others.

For sparring, Mr. Morrow requires “dip foam boots, dip foam gloves, groin cup and mouth guard.”

If you would like a complete division breakdown, please leave a comment.

Mr. John Morrow
Morrow’s Academy of Martial Arts
1321 5th Ave.
Moline, IL

March 9

Keeping the Art traditional: Master Kevin Roberts speaks out against “commercial belt factories”

For this week’s article, we feature the story of a great friend and fellow martial arts instructor, Mr. Kevin Roberts. Mr. Roberts has been a great supporter of our program, always enthusiastically participating in our tournaments with his family and students.

Mr. Roberts shares his experiences in martial arts and why he teaches in the following article.

Through the Tenets of TaeKwon-Do: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Indomitable Spirit, martial arts has affected my life in several ways.

What I value most about the martial arts are the values and discipline that are contained within them.

If students study and practice the art as a whole, and not just the self-defense or sport aspects, they may find themselves with less stress and receive more respect from others, for they will be giving more respect to those they come in contact with.

The physically demanding challenges that the martial arts offer can also help the weaker become stronger, which in turn, should build more self-esteem more self-confidence.

Why do I teach?

Well, I guess I will answer this as, “Why did I start teaching AGAIN?”

In TaeKwon-Do, there are so many instructors and groups out there promoting people just for financial gain. I have watched TaeKwon-Do be torn apart and treated like T-ball and a huge “marketing store,” giving out black belts in a year and promoting 5- and 6-year-old children to Black Belt.

The Art I studied and love so much was becoming a dinosaur. I watched as stances, blocks and strikes became Hollywood moves, “looking cool” with no practical application behind them.

I teach to help pass on an Art before it is gone.

Some thought I wouldn’t get many students being as I practice “old-fashioned” TaeKwon-Do. Now here I am with over 50 students.

People want true Martial Arts. It is up to us to educate and teach the public what that is. I don’t have the gimmicks and toys for kids to play with. I tell them up front that it will probably take five years to get a Black Belt from me. Sometimes the parents are shocked, and then I ask them to watch a class. When they do, they see the difference.

One high point in my teaching is when a student with learning issues makes a breakthrough and advances to the next technique or belt. Regular school sports just don’t have the time or care to take the time to develop these kids.

Another moment is when the teens or adults take the class, but have thoughts that maybe they are wasting their time.

However, when they see the value and the techniques to be learned, how they are applied and start enjoying the Art, it’s like winning in the fight against the “commercial belt factories” that have watered down and sold out my Art.


Mr. Roberts started TaeKwon-Do training on Dec. 7, 1978, under Mr. Duane Connett, at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois. One of the smaller children his age, he was part of the original TaeKwon-Do class when LLC first offered it. At that time, the demanding two-hour classes consisted mostly of adults, and the then-16 year-old Roberts was the youngest student in the class.

Other than doing missionary work in Haiti in 1981, he trained for three years without missing a class and practiced another two hours a day at home on top of that. Three years after his first lesson, he successfully tested for 1st-degree Black Belt in TaeKwon-Do under Mr. Phil Minton of Terre Haute, Ind., in 1981. During that time, he also attained a brown belt in ShudoKan Karate under Mr. Terry McConnell. He has competed in many tournaments and placed in many divisions.

In 1983, Mr. Roberts tested for 2nd-degree Black Belt under Master Yong Duk Choi, earning additional degrees in 1985 and 1988. He reaffirmed his 4th-degree Black Belt in a test led by Grand Master Han Min Kyo in 2007. More than 30 years since his first class, he passed his test for 5th-degree Black Belt in Springfield, Mo., under a panel of judges in June 2010. The National Progressive Taekwondo Association (NPTA) awarded Mr. Roberts “Instructor of the Year” in 2009.

He teaches a Chang Hon style of TaeKwon-Do at Lake Land College TaeKwon-Do in Mattoon Illinois & Fighting Tigers TaeKwon-Do in Charleston Illinois.

He is also the Director and co-founder of the Kyumson TaeKwonDo Alliance. This is a new organization and his hope and mission is to help TaeKwonDo instructors find their way back to the more traditional Art: uniting TaeKwonDo to train together as one Art.



March 8

Upcoming: Illinois Valley Karate Tournament on April 17, 2011

Martial arts tournament promoter Gary Gillette will be hosting the Illinois Valley Karate Tournament in Morris, Ill., on April 17, 2011.

It will take place at Shabbona Middle School in Morris, and the tournament’s events include chanbara, self-defense, weapons, kata and kumite. Medals for 1st through 4th place will be awarded for chanbara and self-defense. Awards for the rest of the events include etched glass mugs for 1st through 3rd place and medals for 4th place. A grand champion will be awarded for men and women’s kumite.

Prices start at $40.

This tournament is a Professional Karate Commission-sanctioned event.

Download the information packet for the Illinois Valley Karate Tournament 2011, which includes more details on divisions and times.

Shabonna Middle School
725 School Street
Morris, IL 60450

Gary Gillette
815-941-9790 or

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