What an honor it was to host fellow Tang Soo Do practitioners in San Francisco for the WTSDA Region 1 Championship this May! After months of planning and preparation, hours of training, and hundreds of emails, the day of the championship was finally upon us, and you could feel the anticipation in the Paresh community. Grandmaster Strong, 12 Masters including Master Merrill and Regional Director Master Wolverton, and numerous family members looked on as 211 competitors representing 10 dojangs came to compete, from the littlest Dragon to the most senior 3rd Dan.
At the opening ceremony, Grandmaster Strong promoted four martial artists to Master and 4th Dan: Master Robert Nelson (Loyal Heights Martial Arts), Master Kristina Ohlson (Paresh Martial Arts), Master Juanya Williams (Loyal Heights Martial Arts), and Mr. Robert Gross (Dragon Heart Tang Soo Do II). Master Mark Taylor (Puget Sound Tang Soo Do) was promoted from 4th Dan Master to 5th Dan Master. This was an especially moving moment for the Paresh community as we watched our Chief Instructor don her red and black belt for the first time and in her hometown. It was also a sobering moment as Master Ohlson shared that she will be moving back to her other hometown in New England this summer. The Yang of our pride in her met with the Um of knowing
we will soon miss her, and both came from the love we have for her and the love she has showed us for over a decade. Thank you Master Ohlson!
The gup competition was prefaced by Grandmaster Strong’s presentation of Oh Sip Sah Bo hyung. He delivered each move in the form with such intention that it left the rest of us in an almost meditative state. Next, we enjoyed a performance from the Parangal Dance Company, a professional dance group that celebrates and preserves traditional Philippine culture. Mr. Don Aguillo (3rd Dan, Instructor, Paresh Martial Arts) performed with the group, drawing a connection between the two rich art forms he practices. Finally, three dojangs participated in the creativity competition. They were all such different styles, but the dedication and effort from each team was evident. For me this competition was a personal highlight. It was the first time my daughter and I participated in the demonstration team. We auditioned, practiced, and performed together. To add to this moment, my parents, who came out from New York to watch us, were in the audience along with my husband and young son (Little Dragon). The gup competitions were energizing both as a participant and a spectator. In my junior rank ring, it was the first time competing for many of us. We cheered each other on, sparred ambitiously and respectfully, and gave each other hugs at the end. I was most impressed with the 10th gup in our ring who nailed her hyung not once but twice and who was a force to spar with. She swept the ring placing first in both competitions; I was so proud of this person I had only just met.
Hosting the tournament this year brought out the best in our community. So many volunteered time and donated money to make this a memorable event. I sincerely thank those who took the trip out to San Francisco and hope you took home fond memories and a renewed commitment to practicing our art. Tang Soo!
Ana Echániz (7th gup, Paresh Martial Arts)
Looking for the championship cup awards, creativity, and scholarship results? Click here...
Check out the slideshow or view the album on Flickr