The Tea Area School District will play host to the Midwest Taekwondo Championships early next month. The Tea Area High School gymnasium will be the site of the event, which is in its 35th year of existence.
“It is a great pleasure to invite [spectators] to the 35th Midwest Open Taekwondo Championships,” said local Taekwondo Master Houma Maka in a Facebook press release. “In 1981 Midwest Taekwondo hosted its first tournament at Augustana College. Through the years we have strived to improve the quality of competition as well as promoting sportsmanship within the Taekwondo arena. We thank you for your support throughout these years and look forward to working with you in the future.”
Originally from the South Pacific island of Tonga, Maka began taking Taekwondo and Judo instructions from Chang Hee Lee upon first arriving in Sioux Falls in 1975. Maka had always been interested in martial arts, and decided it would be a good way to learn the new culture and language of his new country.
According to Maka’s wife, Lisa, Chang Hee Lee suffered a back injury in 1977, and he then offered the school to the Makas due to no longer being unable to teach himself. That school would move to Tea from Sioux Falls in 2005, where it has flourished since.
“Maka’s Taekwondo has a rich tradition of attending tournaments and also host’s two local tournaments each year,” said Mrs. Maka. “We expect to have about a dozen of our own students competing in our upcoming November 5th event. Over the years, we have had multiple students compete locally and nationally, finding various levels of success along the way.”
It’s not just students that are doing well. Taekwondo talent runs in the family, too.
“Just this summer, our daughter, Sarah Maka competed at the USA Taekwondo Nationals in Richmond, Virginia and brought home the silver medal in the women’s division,” said Mrs. Maka.
There is also a U.S. Olympian with ties to the sport in South Dakota.
“Paige McPherson from Stur-gis, SD represented the USA in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games [and] grew up competing at our SD events as a young child and high school student,” Mrs. Maka added.
Taekwondo is a form of martial art developed by tribes originating from the Korean Peninsula. Designed to preserve both life and race, the exercise also boosted physical and mental strength.
In its literal translation, TaeKwonDo means ‘the way of the fist and foot.’ The most important part of the word is ‘Do’, which means ‘the correct way.’ Kicking and punching are just physical attributes. By practicing Do and the principles of the art, its students become martial artists physically and mentally.
“Even though our state is considered small in the Taekwondo world, our SD students have shown great success locally, regional, nationally and even internationally,” said Mrs. Maka. “We are confident that our students will again exceed their ability as they compete on Nov. 5 - not only testing the physical skills they have been working in class but also confidently showing the tenants of Taekwondo which are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit.”
Students participating in the Midwest Championships have already preregistered to save time and registration fees. The event will take place all day Saturday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those interested in attending should also keep March 25, 2017 open, which is when Tea High School will host the 30th SD State Taekwondo Championships. Tea Weekly will have more on that closer to the date.