White Tiger Taekwondo was jingling all the way home from Kelowna, as they brought back 80 medals from the Kees Tae Kwon Do Invitational.
“I think this was our best showing. All of our black belts won golds, which is the elite division,” said Master Steve Desjardin, noting they had four black belts compete.
“Half of our students took gold medals in sparring, and the other half pretty much had silver or bronze. I think it is one of our best showings for all the years we have been going.”
There were 25 students from White Tiger who went down to the competition and brought back 26 gold, 15 silver and 39 bronze medals.
“We dominated the whole tournament more or less in a lot of the divisions … these kids did just amazing,” said Desjardins.
White Tiger students have been going to the Kelowna tournament for years, and Desjardins says it’s one of the best competitions in B.C.
There were eight different events at the tournament including:
•Sparring (fighting part of Taekwondo where students put on full gear and spar for points)
•Poomsae (the traditional forms of Taekwondo)
•Team poomsae (a group of more than two competitors does a combination of the disciplines of Taekwondo)
•Power-break (breaking boards)
•Front jump snap kick (high-jump kick)
•Flying side kick (run ad fly through the air to kick a target)
•Weapons (traditional weapons of Taekwondo)
•Pair poomsae (two athletes at a time trying to do the forms in perfect unison)
“Everyone did well overall,” said Desjardin. “Some of these kids, it was their first tournament and it’s amazing to watch them. When they first came to class they can’t even look people in the eye when they stepped into the ring. They just built so much confidence, that’s the thing with taekwondo it builds confidence.”
Seven-year-old Megyn Templeton, who has her blue belt said she had fun at the tournament.
Templeton competed in sparring, poomsae, pair poomsae, jumping snap kick and flying side kick where she came home with one gold, two silver and one bronze.
“It was amazing,” she said. “I like that it’s fun.”
Jerrid Butler had been to the tournament before, and the black belt came away successful again. He returned with two golds in sparring and jumping snap kick.
“It was fun, it’s always a good tournament there,” he said. “I like supporting all the kids and helping out everybody, especially competing as well.”
Butler broke the equivalent of nine one-inch pine boards and ended up with a silver, as well as jumped 10 feet six inches high in the front jump snap kick.
Having all this success in the club, Desjardin says it showcases the quality of instruction the athletes are receiving.
“We focus on traditional martial arts, we have our tenets of taekwondo which is self-control, integrity, perseverance — so we teach all the students to be good individuals too,” he said.
“It shows the quality of the club, but it also shows the quality of the students too. They come here and they focus.”
Desjardin says he hopes the students were able to take away a lot from their last tournament of the year including to always challenge yourself.
“Do the best you can do, strive to be better every day, but the reality is it’s just a tournament. The sun will come up tomorrow — have fun and enjoy,” he said.
White Tiger has been teaching taekwondo since 1996, where Desjardin (black belt sixth Dan) and his wife, Paula Desjardins (black belt third Dan) have been teaching. The club is part of the World Taekwondo Federation and trains in full-contact.
This was the last tournament of the season as the club winds down in June and starts back up in September.
Next year, Desjardins is expecting to have three to four students go to provincials, and two go to nationals.