Brown Taekwondo recently won 31 medals and two first place trophies at the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association Championship earlier this month. Having placed in the top three over the past ten years, this is the first time in history that the team ranked first overall, earning it the title of National Champion for the first time. Held at UC Davis, the competition featured over 400 competitors from 30 of the country’s top colleges and universities. The 25 Brown athletes and their four coaches took part in performing choreographed techniques as well as full knock-out sparring.
Led by Master Sung Sun Park ‘96, the recipient of the Coach of the Year Award in 2010, since 2006, Brown Taekwondo currently has over 120 members, most of whom only began learning the sport at Brown. The team is also coached by black belt heavy weight sparring champion and Johnson & Wales student Danielle Harrison, as well as Brown students Bhuvic Patel ’11 and Randall Trang ’11.
In order to find out more about Brown Taekwondo, BlogDailyHerald caught up with Stephanie Lee ’12, a national medal-winning Brown Taekwondo member, to talk about her experience with the martial art.
BlogDH: How did Brown Taekwondo begin?
Stephanie Lee: Brown Taekwondo began as Karate Club in the early 60s, which really meant a mix of karate and taekwondo because there were not many martial arts club at that time. In the 1980s, it was renamed to the Brown Taekwondo Club. Eventually, Master Sung S. Park ’96, a former club member, president, and instructor of Brown Taekwondo, became our current master instructor and coach.
BDH: What was it like to win first overall at the National Collegiate Tournament and what does this mean for the future of Brown Taekwondo?
SL: It felt so amazing (and also kind of surreal) to be part of BTKD history when we won both 1st in the novice color belt division for the third year in a row and for the first time, 1st overall and earning the title of National Champions. I am so proud of the Brown University Taekwondo Team because everyone helped to earn valuable points whether by competing, coaching, or providing moral support. We hope to continue our tradition of excellence by defending our title next year at the 2012 National Collegiate Tournament held at MIT.
BDH: Why did you choose Taekwondo out of all the martial arts out there?
SL: My roommate freshman year was a 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo, so she convinced me to attend the info session for Brown Taekwondo at the beginning of the year. What really stood out to me from the info session was that there’s such diversity in the club and people join for various different reasons including to: learn self-defense, relieve stress, or just simply exercise with friends. The sense of family promoted by Brown Taekwondo really made me feel at home, away from home. Furthermore, I wanted to take on the proposed challenge of graduating from Brown with my diploma in one hand and a black belt in the other.
BDH: What belt are you and how long did it take for you to get there?
SL: I am currently a red belt with a black stripe, which is the final color belt before the black belt. I started taekwondo my freshman year with no prior experience at all. Now as a junior and after just three years of training, I hope to earn my 1stdegree black belt this May.
BDH: If you could learn one Taekwondo move, what would it be?
SL: I would love to learn a flashy combination of kicks done in mid-air like the 540 or tornado kick. Essentially, you rotate approximately 540 degrees in the air and use the same leg for taking off, kicking, and landing.
BDH: If you could spar with a character from a martial arts movie, who would it be? If you could kick a fictional villain’s ass, who would it be?
SL: I would love to spar with Bruce Lee, even if I totally got my butt kicked. He’s such a legend and it would be a great honor to learn from him. If I could kick a fictional villain’s ass, it would have to be the Green Goblin from Spiderman, or the Joker from Batman, although I think it would require a lot more brain power than physical ass-kicking ability to defeat the Joker.
The club is now still training and determined to defend the title of National Champions next year at MIT. Below are pictures of Brown Taekwondo’s demonstration at the Asian Arts Festival 2011 in March.