LIHUE — After taking part in its first off-island competition months ago, a local taekwondo school competed against some of the best in the state.
K.A.I.S. (Kims Academy Island School) TaeKwonDo participated in the 2018 USA Taekwondo Hawaii State Championships last weekend on Oahu.
“They inspired the other students. Just personally, I love to see their progress. I love to be a part of it,” said Jack Markman, K.A.I.S. master instructor. “Their parents, their family members, are such a big part of the picture. They’re taking the time, the money, the energy. … I couldn’t be more proud.”
Fourteen students from K.A.I.S. took part in forms and full-contact competitions in Aiea. The school took home 28 medals — nine gold, 12 silver and seven bronze.
Prior to the state tournament, K.A.I.S. competed in its first off-island event, the 13th annual Maui Open Taekwondo Championship, in November.
“They’ve gone beyond my expectations,” Markman said. “It’s only growing now, the motivation, the excitement from the first tournament on Maui. I love to challenge the students. That’s what it’s about — believing in yourself and challenging yourself. They stepped it up incredibly.”
Two of the young Kauai practitioners fought in the full-contact matches — both won gold in their respective divisions.
“I can say that my mindset was a lot different from the first tournament in Maui, which I didn’t do as well in. I won silver in Maui,” said Kai Markman, 17, of Kapaa, who was a full-contact participant. He won gold in the 121-pound division.
“I got gold, and I think it’s because I was less nervous. I wanted to win more,” Kai, son of the master instructor, said.
In the younger Markman’s match, he unintentionally broke his opponents nose with a kick to the face. He apologized for the injury, but the opposer took it in stride and there were no hard feelings.
“I did really bad. I didn’t realize I broke his nose until we reset back in the middle of the ring and I saw blood,” Kai said. “I was waiting to see what would happen, and they told me I was done fighting. They said his nose broke. Then it hit me, and I felt really bad for breaking his nose.
“I talked to him after, and he was really nice. He told me, ‘Good shot.’ I said that he handled it really well. That’s why I didn’t know his nose was broken. He wanted to still fight, but they wouldn’t let him. I told him he handled it like a champ.”
Katelyn Lopes, 10, of Lawai, won two medals in the 10-11 age group. She won silver in the sparring category and a bronze in forms.
“I felt like I did really well. If people saw sparring, they think fighting upfront. But in forms, they think beauty and grace,” Lopes said. “I think that’s the theme I was going for.”
The state championship was a qualifier for the 2018 National Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah in July. Whether K.A.I.S. will enter is to be determined.