“This tournament is our yearly celebration and we welcome spectators from across the Big Horn Basin to come see what Olympic-style taekwondo is all about,” said instructor Chris Ivanoff of Lone Wolf Martial Arts in Powell. “It’s great to see competitors of all ages and levels in one venue challenging them with rigorous exercise, channeling their fears, testing their self-defense and having fun at the same time. The tournament is really about just making long-time friends who have the same passion.”
Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks and fast kicking techniques. To facilitate fast, turning kicks, taekwondo generally adopts stances that are narrower and hence less-stable than the broader, wide stances used by martial arts such as karate. With tournament taekwondo, Ivanoff said, the focus is on learning, sportsmanship and having fun.
“The emphasis is on safety and making sure everyone is having a good time,” he said. “And they’re learning the skill of the Olympic-style taekwondo movement. It’s getting more popular every year, not just here in the states, but all over the world.”
The tournament began at 9:30 a.m. with a parade of teams around the Powell High School gymnasium and the singing of the national anthem by Lone Wolf students Emma Evenson and Gabby Partenheimer. Participants — who came from not just Wyoming but also surrounding states — competed in forms (poomsae) and medium-contact sparring. They ranged in age from 6 to 60, representing all belt ranks. Sparring followed Olympic-style rules, and competitors wore protective padding for their own safety. Scoring was done electronically with wireless sensors built into the chest protectors worn by those sparring.
“It’s become a really high-tech event,” Ivanoff said. “It’s also become a good fundraiser for our school.”
Lone Wolf Martial Arts has been teaching taekwondo through the Powell Recreation District and Northwest College Physical Education department for over 34 years. Ivanoff, who’s also a longtime Park County Sheriff’s deputy, has been teaching for 32 of those years.
“It was a way to give something positive back to the community, something that promotes good health and teaches self-control,” he said. “It also teaches respect and courtesy, qualities needed to succeed in society.”
Twenty-eight students from Lone Wolf Martial Arts participated in the tournament, with many placing in the top three of their class. Trophies were given out to the top three in each class, and all participants were given competition awards, regardless if they won or lost.
“After the tournament, every one of my students that competed was charged up, wanting to work out harder when they returned to class,” Ivanoff said. “Now they’re thinking, ‘What do I need to do to be better in the next tournament?’ That competitive spirt is becoming stronger. That’s why we hold tournaments, to keep people interested. It’s a real positive, healthy movement. I’m glad to be part of it.”
Feedback from students and parents on the weekend event was overwhelmingly positive, and Ivanoff is confident the event will continue to grow.
“This was one of the largest events we’ve had in recent years, and it appears like it’s gaining in enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s really become a family event, with multiple members of families all competing together in different divisions. That’s what makes it really special to me. I can’t think of many other events where moms and dads can compete with their kids.”
Ivanoff praised the 18 martial arts schools that made the trip, as well as the courtesy and respect each competitor showed one another, before, during and after matches.
“I believe it was the finest tournament we’ve ever had here,” he said. “You get to see old friends you’ve known for a long time, and it’s just a very humbling experience.”
Tournament taekwondo is about facing your fears, Ivanoff explained, because when it comes right down to it, it’s still a contact sport.
“Competitors know they’re going to get kicked, they know they’re going to get punched,” Ivanoff said. “They know there are rules to prevent injuries, but they’re still taking shots. I develop a tremendous amount of respect for the people who came to the tournament, because it’s not an easy thing to do. There are a lot of people who shy away from that kind of learning experience.”
Lone Wolf Taekwondo Championship Results
(Results reflect Lone Wolf Martial Arts students only)
Sam Loyning, age 8, white belt: second forms, third sparring
Dalan Wambeke, age 7, white belt: third forms, second sparring
Keegan Ginest, age 13: third forms, fourth sparring
Addison Moretti, Age 14, yellow belt: first forms, third sparring
Andrew Moretti, age 10, yellow belt: third forms, fourth sparring
Armando Hernandez, age 12, green belt: second forms, second sparring
Brian Walker, age 14, blue belt: second forms, second sparring
Chloe Chouinard, age 8, yellow belt: first forms, second sparring
Chute Cauffman, age 9, yellow belt: second forms, second sparring
Colin Walker, age 9, green belt: third forms, third sparring,
Emma Evenson, age 14, green belt: third forms, second sparring
Gabby Partenheimer, age 14, red belt: fourth forms, fourth sparring
Gideon Partenheimer, age 10, blue belt: second forms, second sparring
Ginny Summers, age 9, green belt: fourth forms, fourth sparring
Isaac Summers, age 13, green belt: third sparring
Jace Bohlman, age 13, blue belt: first forms, first sparring
John Walker, age 16, blue belt: fourth forms, second sparring
Lane Summers, age 15, blue belt: third forms, third sparring
Matt Evenson, age 12, blue belt: second forms, third sparring
Natalie Black, age 8, yellow belt: third forms, third sparring
Natalie Quillen, age 19, blue belt: first forms, second sparring
Nolan Evenson, age 9, green belt: first forms, third sparring
Richard Managali, age 19, yellow belt: second forms, fourth sparring
Seth Partenheimer, age 23, black belt: first forms, second sparring
Zach Partenheimer, age 17, red belt: first forms, first sparring