Martial Arts Champion - Miss Talia Flores from Southlake, TX
Miss Talia Flores
Rank: 1st Degree Senior Black Belt
As I made my way through the throngs of Taekwondo students and instructors, I felt a smile light up my face as I watched little children jump up and down in joy at receiving their first competition medals. “Mommy, look!” I heard one shout cheerfully, twirling and dancing with a large, heavy, and shiny medal in hand. “I got a medal!”
To me, the familiar atmosphere of applauding parents and cheering peers was a welcoming scene. A committed student at Spicar’s Martial Arts for over three years, I had begun training in the school’s junior program at the tender age of twelve. With some hard work and determination, I steadily advanced in rank, soon earning my coveted black belt after I entered the teen program. Now that I am a black belt, I am continuing to train and set goals to obtain higher degrees of the prestigious black belt rank, but I am also working to become a certified instructor in order to help out at my favorite Taekwondo school, including judging at tournaments.
I always looked forward to displaying my hard-earned skills at these competitions, my most recent tournament being my fourth. Even better, the tournament held on May 10 was the largest in Southlake's history. Hosted by my Taekwondo school, Spicar’s Martial Arts, it had over 460 competitors and over 60 divisions and was conveniently held at Carroll High School on White Chapel Boulevard – no long hours of driving and traffic this time! Indeed, students as young as four to as old as 64 thoroughly enjoyed spending a day with their fellow martial arts friends from all over the Dallas Fort-Worth region.
This tournament was my first as a true black belt – 1st Degree Decided, that is – and my competition was tough and fierce. Surprisingly, the gold medalist for both forms and sparring was a lower rank than me - a tall probationary black belt with excellent sparring skills. I had the unfortunate luck of sparring her for my first round, which resulted in my prompt loss. I was not too saddened by my defeat, however. In fact, I was pretty excited to spar with her. Her high kicks, well-aimed punches, and aggressive yet graceful sparring style allowed me to learn some valuable sparring lessons. Ducking and weaving, she dodged most of my attacks, though I did manage to get a few kicks and punches in - our final scores only had a difference of a couple points. In this round, my punches were my best friend. I used these to my advantage, barraging her after she was off-balance from a complicated jump kick. After our match had finished, I was given a friendly tip from a higher rank: bob in and out when sparring with a much taller competitor, so that they have no chance to get a point for a kick to the head.
The forms part of the tournament turned out a little better for me. This time, I was able to acquire a medal. Though I couldn’t suppress my nerves as the center judge yelled my name, my knees quivering and arms shivering, I managed to summon enough self-confidence to perform a presentable showing. When I received my third place medal for forms, I was admittedly a little disappointed. Despite knowing that the other contenders had greater experience and prowess and knowing that the 1st Degree Decided black belt form was one of the toughest to medal in, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret when I saw my scores.
It did not take long, however, for my spirits to lift. As soon as I acquired my medal and the ceremony ended, I was immediately congratulated by fellow competitors, even those who had medaled higher than me. Encouraged and delighted, I congratulated them back, ecstatic at the kindness of students I had only met that day. Even better, our school’s owner and chief instructor, Mr. Spicar, was equally excited for my success, and congratulated me as well. His good wishes reminded me how he and his wife always support each and every student, whether it is encouragement during a workout or applause whenever someone advances in rank.
The Spicars always urge everyone of all shapes and sizes to come in and try out a class. If you think that you would like to learn self-defense, find new confidence levels, make new friends, or just do a good and fun workout, you are always welcome to jump in and try a class with me. The Spicars also stress that one does not always have to receive that shining, prized gold medal every time in order to achieve success. Even though I may not have placed first in the Southlake tournament, I will always look back on that competition fondly. Cheering for my friends, meeting new students, and relishing the fun and good times made this May’s tournament one of my favorites.
Exiting the busy gym, the room still crowded with martial artists, I reflected on the ever-present tenets of Taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. All of these tenets were a vital part of my journey in training for the tournament and a part of the tournament itself. My experience at the tournament highlighted each of these tenets. Stepping out of the swinging doors into the bright sunlight, I grinned as I remembered that this, to me, felt more meaningful than any medal.