AMAC Students' Thoughts on the Virtual Tournament by Emily Hyatt

The UWTA’s first virtual tournament was a success and Auburn Martial Arts Center’s students were thrilled to compete in any way they could. A handful of our students participated in the May 1st-2nd tournament and almost all of them placed. Three of our instructors competed, Ms. Harada taking third place, Mr. Moger taking second, and Mr. Diaz scoring first. Even some of our younger students competed, including Wylie and Kellen. Waylon and Cailin[1] also participated with great success, both winning first place. I asked a couple of these competitors what they thought of the tournament and I’m not surprised to learn that everyone enjoyed the tournament despite the unfamiliarity and the few technical issues.

Ben Wechsler said the reason he and his boys decided to sign up was “because we were craving any kind of taekwondo.” Their excitement paid off, as they all did exceptionally well on May 2nd. Holly Voorhees[2] signed up for a similar reason, saying “it was a new experience.” Ms. Voorhees ended up in 2nd place but she added that she “prefers the real deal.” Mr. Diaz said that once he starting watching the tournament on YouTube he “knew he had to [compete] and start rearranging furniture.”

I also asked if this tournament was harder or easier and I got a few varied answers. All three competitors mentioned the lack of adrenaline, Mr. Diaz stating that it wasn’t “easier or harder… but I had a hard time getting the same focus and adrenaline as a normal tournament where you have hundreds of people watching, and you can stand next to the ring watching your competitors knowing what you have to beat.” Holly also felt the absence of adrenaline and stress, saying “I think that’s because even though I was being watched and judged by far more people than I normally would, they weren’t really there so it wasn’t that much pressure…” Mr. Wechsler, on the other hand, found the virtual setting easier and less nerve-racking. For Ben, the adrenaline lies mostly in sparring, which is why he finds it easier to compete in than poomsae. “I have a hard time tuning our the surrounding activity when doing my poomsaes… I didn’t have that in the garage.” Ben didn’t miss the stress of competing in person while Mr. Diaz felt it lacked the adrenaline and the “rush you get when the scores are read.”

Lastly, I asked everyone if they would participate in a virtual tournament again and they all replied that they would. Ben hoped that in the future, the times would be more accurate since he and his boys had to wait over an hour to compete. Holly also waited about five hours before she could start. She said the tournament was “like always, crazy late.” Ben stated that “it was frustrating having to wait so long, however I appreciated Master Beard working so hard to get people in and competing… the UWTA seemed to have their plan, and they worked out the bugs pretty quickly…” Mr. Diaz said that it did go according to plan but it took so long because “we had roughly 300 competitors… we only ran one ring so we could stream it on YouTube” Overall, it looks like the Auburn Martial Arts students enjoyed the practice and competition but as Mr. Wechsler said, “it was definitely different.”

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