A second grade student at Tharrington Primary School has come back with honors after competing in the 2012 HaTaekyung Invitational Championship.
Tharrington’s Steven Johnson placed first in Forms and Board Breaking and second place in Sparring at the competition that was held at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga. The 8-year-old Taekwondo enthusiast is a student at Tiger Kim’s World Class Tae Kwon Do School in Winston-Salem.
Students from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Virginia competed in the event. In his three years of concentration on the sport, Johnson has advanced to a double black stripe on his red belt and is preparing to test for a black belt. The quiet, unassuming youth said he didn’t get interested in the martial art out of fear of bullies.
“When I started one of the hardest things was learning how to say Taekwondo,” said Johnson. “I just got back to school today after participating in a parade Sunday in Clemmons. We broke boards and did demonstrations and I went down the road gangnam style.”
Johnson said he started the parade out in between two rows of fellow students. His row would break boards and the students on the outside served as targets for kicks and punches.
“We had to walk back a mile to get to our car. I was tired,” said Johnson. He said he first became interested in the sport when he and his parents, Dianne and Gene Johnson, saw a group perform at an air show. He said his brother, Brandon, had taken karate lessons but he wasn’t interested in that style of fighting.
He said his favorite parts of the sport are board breaking and forms, the stylized movements practitioners memorize. Johnson said much of the practice in Taekwondo is choreographed movements practiced with out people to teach one how to counter an attack.
The Georgia tournament was not the first for Johnson, who admits he still gets nervous. He said he has competed in many tournaments, though he is not sure of the exact number and really likes receiving invitations to compete.
“Now I’m getting invited to a lot of stuff. But I still get nervous. When they announce you and you get up to go compete, you say ‘Now don’t mess up after all this practice,’” said Johnson. Board breaking remains fun for Johnson who remembers breaking a board into four pieces in one tournament. He beamed as he remembered breaking one board into three pieces during the parade in Clemmons.
He recalled with pride how at one international tournament he did forms and board breaking against a Korean student and was tied at 10 points at the end of the first round. Johnson finished third in the event.
Johnson said he didn’t realize one piece of that board flew up as high as the tallest member of the school, who was also competing in the parade at the time. He said his two favorite techniques to break boards are using a flying side kick and a jumping front snap kick.
He looked relieved as he explained even though he is devoted to a Korean martial (military) fighting art, he has never been in a fight.
“I don’t want to get into a fight,” added Johnson. “I know how to protect myself if I need to.” He said his parents have been really supportive of him and his father, who owns a cleaning business and “stays pretty busy” has always arranged his schedule to be there for him.
Johnson said he’d like to one day concentrate on teaching others.
“I like it all but my favorite would be forms and breaking,” said Johnson. “When I become a second degree black belt maybe I could be an instructor.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.