“There is more power in unity than in division.” ~ Emanuel Cleaver.
Last Saturday, Quest Taekwondo hosted a training and rumble session with the fight teams from Excel Taekwondo in Canoga Park and Sparks Taekwondo in Murrieta, CA. The atmosphere was one of palpable unity.
At the helm: our own Master Dean Vargas, Excel owners Masters Ulysses and Catherine Marcelino, and Sparks owner, Master Jefferthom Go.
As former members of the Philippine National Team, each of these elite fighters share a certain fraternal bond, teaching and inspiring their students as if their wisdom was drawn from the same wellspring. Their camaraderie was clear. As Master Vargas demonstrated push and kick combos, the Excel Masters nodded and smiled. When Master Vargas broke the kids into groups to practice, the Marcelinos and Master Go were there to ensure that the lessons carried over to the sparring.
Toward the middle of the training, Master Vargas indulged in a moment of painful nostalgia “I remember when Master Ulysses kicked us. It was so powerful. After that no one wanted to block him (with the arms) anymore. So then we started opening up and he got us.” Master Ulysses stood nearby in humble silence. The kids looked on with some visible trepidation, perhaps afraid the former champion would give them a sample of what, in the old days, was called “trembling shock.”
Luckily, the next drill began. Saved by the whistle, the Quest, Excel, and Sparks students kicked, punched, and pushed with fervor. The combined kiaps were like a symphony of guttural coughs, singsong “Yas” , “Achas” and high pitched “Achoos.” A passerby might not know whether to run and hide or find out who was repeatedly sneezing.
The training culminated with a mini-rumble. With nearly every square inch of space occupied, the studio pulsed with movement. Mono-a-mono, the athletes deftly maneuvered, finding angles, sliding, feinting, attacking and evading. The violent dance that is Taekwondo sparring unfolded in full force, yet in what was clearly an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Despite the different flavors of Taekwondo on display, a few stylistic preferences, some distinct tactics, and strategies…it was clear that everyone had a common origin and were now working toward the common goal of USAT and AAU Nationals.
As the tournaments draw near, we salute the athletes and Masters of Excel and Sparks, wishing them the best of luck, and thanking them for allowing Quest to teach them and to learn from them.