MIT Sport Taekwondo Takes First Overall at Nat’l Championships

The MIT Sport Taekwondo team, coached by head instructor Dan Chuang and led by captains Corinna Hui ’09 and Christopher J. Han ’09, competed against the nation’s best teams at the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) Championships at Brown University on March 21st and 22nd. Although MIT was outnumbered by a large team from Brown (MIT: 40; Brown: 64), MIT still prevailed, capturing first place, and beating out Brown University by the slimmest margin of two points to win the overall National Collegiate title.

The two-day tournament began with the forms (poomsae) competition on Saturday, where competitors perform choreographed techniques to display power, grace, and control. MIT colored belts showed excellent mastery of their forms. However, the standout performances of the day were in black belt forms. Bobby Ren ’05, Daniel J. Sauza ’11, and Erika Lee ’12 all seized individual gold medals in their respective divisions. Rebecca Hung ‘11, Han, and JiHye Kim ’10 captured silver medals in their divisions, while Karolina A. Corin G, and Aaron L. Sampson ‘10 (also a Tech sports editor) captured third place.

Also held at the Championships were tryouts for the U.S. Summer World University Games Poomsae Team. MIT’s Sport Taekwondo Club made history with four members being selected to the first U.S. National Collegiate Poomsae Team. Alicia Zhou ’06, Ren, Hung, and Corin will be competing at the Pan Am Collegiate Taekwondo Championships in Berkeley, CA as well as the Summer World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia.

In the novice division, color belts captured medals left and right. Jason Uh ’10, Shammi S. Quddus ’10, Omar E. Fernandez ’10, Han Zhu ’09, Andrew K. Sugaya ’11, Lorraine Ling G, Michele E. Lee ’10, and Teresa “Ty” Lin ’12 all captured first place in their respective weight and belt divisions. Wenxian Hong ’10, Christine M. Lee ’09, Jordan Brayanov, Christine Chin’09, Alvin S. Chen ’11, Ryan A. Rosario ’12, and Heejung Kim ’12 all walked away with silver medals. Ranbel F. Sun ’10, Zhechen “Mary” Hong ’10, Rafael A. “Maverick” Raya ’11, John Sebastian Pineda ‘10, Christine T. Hsueh ‘10, Hsin-Jung “Sophia” Li ‘11, and Ijeoma “Ejay” Emeagwali ’12 took third in their divisions.

The second day of the tournament highlighted the sparring competition. The battle on the ring was first sparked by the energy of Yellow and white belts. All beginners from MIT showed both great determination and toughness against their opponents. Rosario dominated in Men’s Flyweight. Heejung Kim scored on her opponents with both power and skill to win gold in the women’s heavyweight division. Li , used her agile footwork to win gold in the women’s welterweight division. Hsueh won Silver in Women’s Feather while Tara Sarathi ’12 and Lin both captured bronze in the women’s fly and welterweight divisions respectively.

As usual, MIT had a strong showing in the sparring competition by the team’s many red belts. Jaclyn J. Ho ’09 and Sun shared the gold in women’s flyweight. Miranda Ha ’07, Christine Lee , Quddus and Zhechen Hong confidently took away all the medals in women’s featherweight. Zhu decisively won her match after scoring four head shots on her opponent and took home gold. Chin won all of her matches by a seven-point gap to earn the gold medal in her division. Hui and Han participated in their first national competition at the black belt level since receiving their black belts this past December. Han easily won his first match by point gap and overall performed very well fighting against top-caliber players. Hui also fought well, earning herself the bronze medal in the women’s lightweight division.

After claiming the national title this past weekend, the MIT Sport Taekwondo Club now has their sights set on winning the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference Championship Cup. Their next tournament will be held at the University of Pennsylvania on April 4. If the team wins the ECTC Cup, it will be the first time that they have captured both the national title and ECTC cup since 2004.