Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Senior-friendly Mercer County Nationals, March 22nd.

Just a quick reminder to those of you who are looking for a very well run and senior-friendly martial-arts tournament: the 19th annual Mercer County Nationals will be held on March 22nd at Rider University.  According to tournament director Master Ivan Mendez, the event will offer more than 145 divisions to accommodate competitors of all ranks, all ages, and all martial-arts styles.  Last year's tournament attracted 450 competitors and 700 visitors, and this year's version incorporates a number of highly attractive elements.  Among them:
     -- the tournament will take place in two Rider University gyms, not just one, in order to keep things on schedule;
     -- the event will feature several new divisions, including age 50-59 black belts, age 60+ black belts, age16-17 continuous sparring (lightweight and heavyweight), and black belt team sparring (3- or 5-person teams);
      -- and a portion of the tournament's proceeds will be donated to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
   As always, the tournament is open to competitors from anywhere in the U.S. as well as to non-U.S. competitors.  So if you're looking for a way to make some new martial-arts buddies while participating in some senior-friendly competition, this is the way to go.  I can tell you that this is one of my favorite tournaments of the year.
   For more information, click over to the tournament flyer, Mercer County Nationals.
   Whether this will be your first tournament ever or the first one in a long time, I hope to see you there.
                                      All the best.

Monday, February 10, 2014

USA Taekwondo: as senior-friendly as it gets

The Taekwondo tournament season is hitting full stride, and if you're a 50+ athlete who specializes in forms, or poomsae, you should immediately begin looking for the closest USA Taekwondo tournament.  The United States Olympic Committee recognizes USA Taekwondo as the National Governing Body for the sport of Taekwondo in the U.S., but you don't have to be a young Olympian to compete successfully in a state championship near you.
   USA Taekwondo offers a wide range of poomsae age divisions for athletes of all ranks, and to my mind USAT offers the fairest age-friendly rules by far.  While some organizations have a top age group of, let's say, 35-and-over, USAT has multiple categories for older competitors.
   Effective Jan. 1st of this year, USAT offers the following senior divisions in the poomsae category:
   By competing in a USAT-sanctioned state tournament, you can qualify for the USAT Nationals, to be held this summer in San Jose, CA.  And from there, if you happen to win gold, you might even find yourself competing in the World Poomsae Championships sponsored by the World Taekwondo Federation, the sport's Olympic governing body.  And, yes, the age groups shown above are used in international competition as well.
   Does it make sense to offer four age divisions for athletes over 40?  You bet.  Even though we're talking about forms, not sparring, age makes a huge difference in your ability to execute techniques successfully.  Unless you're a happy exception to the rule, you don't get stronger, faster, or more flexible as you age.  A 67-year-old competitor may know the form cold, but can he or she deliver front kicks and side kicks as well as someone 37?  Not likely.  But in too many tournaments that's just tough luck.
   With USA Taekwondo, on the other hand, you'll find about as level a playing field as you can imagine.  In fact, the newest age group for this year -- 66-and-over -- improves on the former 60+ age group.  Let's face it: at 68 your body isn't quite the same as it was at 62.  The older you get, the faster your performance can drop off.  So splitting the 60+ division into 61-65 and 66+ is a huge deal, and it's a way of recognizing that Taekwondo isn't something just for the millions of kids who study the art here in the U.S.
   Taekwondo is a way of life as well as a competitive sport.  So if you're still living the Taekwondo life at 50, 60, or 70, hook up with USA Taekwondo to find a qualifying tournament near you.  Simply head to the USA Taekwondo website, and search for events in your area.  You'll need to join USAT in order to compete, so don't delay since the tournament season is already upon us.
   You're never too old to begin learning Taekwondo . . . or to come out of "retirement."  The Taekwondo Life awaits you.
    All the best.