At the final practice prior to the second-annual Big Ten Taekwondo Tournament yesterday, club president Joshua Rosenblatt stressed resiliency to his team.
“The first time you get whacked upside the head, you are going to want to stop,” Rosenblatt said. “Don”t.”
At the time, Rosenblatt obviously had no way of knowing that team member Han Jo Kim would get “whacked.” During the men”s advanced semifinal match, Kim was kicked in the head after the referee stopped action, resulting in a bloody nose and eye along with a trip to the hospital.
Taekwondo, a sport that resembles kick-boxing, consists of martial artists kicking in the chest and head to draw points from the judges or a knockout blow. The competition takes place in two rounds of one-and-a-half minutes or two-minute intervals. The competitor with the most points or the one left standing is declared the winner of the match.
As a result of the cheap shot Kim took outside of these rounds, his opponent was disqualified, and Kim”s three-member men”s advanced unit went on to win the event. This contribution was one of many successes for the Wolverines as they ended up winning the tournament.
“We have got a lot of motivation to win because this is our home field,” said Chrissy Dallas about the team”s attitude.
But, this tournament was about more than just a Big Ten Championship.
“We are trying to make a good impression since we are trying to beef up our status at the University of Michigan,” explained Dallas.
Although it will take a long time, Rosenblatt said one of the long term goals for the team is to obtain varsity-club status, a significant upgrade from the club label. Currently, all of travel and equipment costs are handled independently. But if the club were to achieve varsity-club status, it would receive “significant support from the University.”
“Basically, we have this plan. As we grow more and more competitive, more and more people will get interested,” said Rosenblatt.
In order to increase its level of competition, the team is starting intercollegiate activity and trying to get as many teams involved in the Big Ten Tournament as possible. The tournament ended up with five schools Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State and Indiana.
The club also worked hard to increase attendance at the Sports Coliseum by spreading the word about the tournament. Along with posting flyers across campus, the members encouraged friends and family to come by word of mouth and via e-mail. Brendan Gray, one of the students in attendance, pointed out the most important aspect of the marketing scheme “I came because it was free. That was a great idea.”
The extensive campaigning appeared to work.
“There are about 30 percent more people here (than last year),” Kim guessed. “We got a good turnout.” It appears that the sport and team also has a new fan in Gray, who said, “I want to try it. If I had some extra time, I”d be out here.”
Rosenblatt”s plan also appears to be working a little earlier than expected, as student Daniel Lee said he hopes the team achieves Varsity-club status.
As a resident of South Quad and regular attendant of the cafeteria, Lee found one expense he thinks that could make way for Taekwondo on the University expense list.
“They make me pay for that food? Come on.”