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Martial arts students capture top honors at regional meet

Martial arts enthusiasts Josh Kyzar and Paul Hegerle knew theycould hold their own at home, but they didn’t know just howprepared they were to face the world until their trip toDallas.

The two Academy of Korean Martial Arts students went to Dallasrecently for the Korean Martial Arts Grand National Tournament,where they faced competition from across the south and as far awayas Indiana. They competed in four different categories and broughthome six trophies between them.

Kyzar, a freshman at West Lincoln, won first place in self-defenseand sparring, second in empty hand forms, and third in weapons.

Hegerle, a seventh-grader at Alexander Junior High School, wonfirst in forms and second in self-defense.

“It was fun,” said Kyzar, 14. “And it was neat seeing all thedifferent competition.”

Master Steve Kincade, who trains the boys, said the organizer ofthe tournament had originally asked him to bring a demonstrationteam. He after a series of decisions, he ended up taking the boysto compete.

“These two had such an awesome attitude I decided to take them,” hesaid. “They had both been working so hard.”

While there were many different Korean styles at the tournament,both Kyzar and Hegerle are students of Teuk Gong Moosool, and alsohave a background in Hapkido.

Hegerle, 12, said he and Kyzar were able to work together eventhough they competed singly. Kyzar and Hegerle finished first andsecond in the self-defense category.

“There was a lot of competition, and we needed each other to placefirst and second,” he said. “So we both won that.”

And both boys said knowing they were able to compete on a regionaland even national level was both a thrill and an honor.

“It felt real good knowing I got first in Dallas, not justBrookhaven and McComb,” said Kyzar of his two first place trophies.”I was trained really well for the tournament, and I knew I wasgoing to win.”

Kincade said it is hard to find words for how proud he is of hisstudents.

“I hate the word ‘pride,'” he said. “I just feel lucky. But whatmakes me happiest is that they transformed their intention intoaction.”

Hegerle said there was a moment when he wasn’t sure who had won theforms category. But when he realized he had come out on top, it wasa great feeling.

“I was happy when I saw my score,” he said. “But there was oneother person I thought might beat me. When I saw her score, I knewI had the trophy. It felt great.”

Both boys, who focus on martial arts as their main competitionsport, said they’re already looking forward to competing next yearand will be training toward that goal. They said in addition toself defense and discipline, the Academy of Korean Martial Arts hastaught them something else.

“We learn to have fun,” said Kyzar. “We learn a lot of newthings.”

Kincade said the boys have also learned not to be afraid to shootfor the stars.

“They wanted to do something and they achieved it,” he said. “Andas for me, I’d have been proud of them if they hadn’t placed atall.”

The boys were both brown belts going into the tournament, withKyzar being a first degree brown belt. So for him, the tournamentwas a little more than just trying out his moves in a differentstate.

“This was a part of Josh’s blackbelt test,” Kincade said. “And ofcourse he passed with flying colors. I’m just waiting on the beltto come in now to give it to him.”