Sport Taekwondo dominates in West Point Tournament

With win, MIT leads Cornell by 164 in conference

The MIT Sport Taekwondo Club recently competed in the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) West Point Tournament. Despite the 3 a.m. bus trip down to Princeton, N.J., the Engineers — coached by Dan Chuang and led by captains Jason J. Uh ’10 and Erika Lee ’12 — achieved a landslide victory. MIT is currently leading the conference with 1589 points — 164 points over the second-place Cornell and several hundred points ahead of 28 other universities.

This year’s tournament featured events in forms and sparring. Forms are choreographed, their precise movements judged on execution and style. In forms, MIT outscored the second-place university, Cornell, roughly 180 to 30. In men’s black belt forms, Uh won second, and Daniel J. Sauza ’11 placed fourth. Lee came out on top with a first-place finish in women’s black belt forms, with Rebecca Hung ’11 taking fifth place.

The team scored a stream of exceptional wins in sparring, with the men’s A2 team winning silver, men’s B1 and B2 teams winning gold and silver respectively, and the women’s B1 team winning silver.

The men’s A1 team of Uh, Sauza, and Christopher M. Williams G won silver, defeating both the Cornell A1 and A2 teams for the first time in almost two years.

The men’s B1 team of David Wen G, Rafael A. Raya ’11, and Williams won against West Point and Brown in the first two rounds. The B1 team triumphed over Johns Hopkins in the semifinals, a team that MIT had lost to during the finals at the 2010 UPenn Tournament.

The men’s B2 team of Seth M. Weinberg G and Ijeoma Emeagwali ’12 took out Cornell’s B2 team, blowing away the competition and ensuring an MIT vs. MIT final. The men’s B2 team bowed out to the men’s B1 team, achieving an MIT gold/silver victory in the B division.

The women’s B1 team of Tara P. Sarathi ’12, Hsin-Jung Li ’11, and Lorraine Ling G plowed through the B team bracket, defeating Princeton B1, UPenn B1, and Cornell B1. The team missed first place by one point to Brown B1 in the final match. Sarathi in particular performed well, winning a decisive match against the same opponent whom she lost to earlier in the tournament.

Other MIT sparring teams also performed exceptionally well. The men’s A2 team achieved a victory over the Navy A2 team, and the men’s C2 team won against Yale C1.

The women’s A1 team of Sarathi, Li, and Lee had a tough draw, but valiantly fought the Princeton A1 team during the first round. The women’s B2 team defeated both Cornell teams before losing to the eventual gold medalist, Brown B1, in the quarterfinals. The women’s C1 team placed fifth in their division, winning against Princeton and Brooklyn before losing to silver medalist Princeton C1 in the quarterfinals.

MIT club members and instructors also won international honors in the U.S. Open competition on Feb. 17. Club alumni and instructors did particularly well in forms. Bobby B. Ren ’06 earned third place and a bronze medal in men’s senior 1 (19-30) — a highly competitive division of 16 internationally-ranked players — finishing only behind competitors from Mexico and Peru. Rene R. Chen ’07 won fifth in the similarly competitive women’s senior 1 (19-30) division of 22 players, finishing just behind three Mexican and one Australian player.

In sparring, Richard-Duane S. Chambers ’05 won 7-1 over a Danish competitor and had a close, exciting match against a player from Guadalupe, losing 4-6. Aziz Abdellahi G won his first match against an Italian 11-2 and then proceeded to win a match against a five-time U.S. national team member 4-3.

The extraordinary success of the MIT team at the West Point tournament as well as the U.S. Open Tournament is the culmination of regular practice, office hours, special seminars, and a weekend-long Taekwondo boot camp at the end of IAP organized by instructor Ren. The dedication of both instructors and athletes has led to three consecutive national champions, and the team is continuing strong. Team members and instructors will continue to prepare for the upcoming UPenn tournament and the journey towards the ECTC Cup.