Calling it “one of the best tournaments in all of its 26 years,” instructor Chris Ivanoff of Lone Wolf Martial Arts in Powell said the recent Lone Wolf Taekwondo Championships was a great success.
“Despite a little bit lower attendance because of the blizzard conditions and below-zero temperatures, it was an excellent tournament,” Ivanoff said of the March 2 event at Panther Gym. “I got nothing but thank yous all day long from competitors and parents.”
Twelve schools from across the western region braved the elements to participate: Lone Wolf Taekwondo, Powell; Spearfish Martial Arts of Spearfish, South Dakota; Progressive Taekwondo of Riverton; Sturgis Taekwondo of Sturgis, South Dakota; Martial Arts Academy of Billings; Rocky Mountain Martial Arts of Butte, Montana; Missoula Taekwondo Center of Missoula, Montana; Williston Taekwondo & Judo Academy of Williston, North Dakota; Sunlight Martial Arts of Cody; Journey Martial Arts of Cody; and Montana State Taekwondo of Bozeman.
Lone Wolf had 23 students compete in the tournament, with each student placing in at least one event, either forms or sparring.
“I was overly pleased with their success,” Ivanoff said of his students.
Two special awards were also handed out for instructors, with the Outstanding Instructor Award given to Master Jordan Thomas from Spearfish Martial Arts. The award for Outstanding Contribution in Taekwondo was given to James Evenson, of Lone Wolf’s sister school in Red Lodge, Montana.
This year, the Lone Wolf Championships went to a “brand new, state-of-the-art” all-computerized TrueScore Gen 2 scoring system for all four competition rings.
“It’s the same operations that they use in the Olympics,” Ivanoff explained. “People on the corners scored each event as they saw the points happening, and spectators were able to see the points tallied as they were happening.”
What’s cool about this point system, according to Ivanoff, is that there are three judges who score, and two of them have to recognize the point scored within two seconds, or it doesn’t score. As is the case with any new computer system, there were some bugs to be worked out, but Ivanoff said the tournament ran relatively glitch-free.
“It went very well, though we didn’t get the system in until Thursday night,” he said. “We were really panicking about how we were going to operate the tournament. But we had some very professional IT people putting together the laptops and the scoring system itself, so we had a lot of tech people there. It was unbelievable how they put it all together in that short amount of time.”
As for the level of competition at the tournament, Ivanoff said it may have been the best he’s seen in the 26-year history of the tournament, and spectators responded enthusiastically.
“What made this tournament so extraordinary is the divisions were so evenly matched,” he said. “We just had really good competition; everybody had a really good time. It just seemed like throughout the day it was like one big family. Everybody was showing respect, courtesy and self-control with each other while still trying to win their divisions competitively.”
In a throwback to tournaments past, this year’s tournament also featured board breaking, an event Ivanoff said hasn’t been done in almost a decade. All levels of competitors were allowed to participate, from white belt to black belt, and could use the event as a scoring alternative to forms or sparring.
“It was just a lot of fun, and people enjoyed watching it,” Ivanoff said. “It’s amazing to see people come to these kinds of competitions, they’re so stressful. And they’re challenging themselves to meeting that stress and facing their fears. Whether they win or lose is not really the big deal; it’s that they educate themselves.”
Ivanoff also thanked the community of Powell for its continued support of the martial arts.
“I think the community understands that we are trying to do something good by giving people the opportunity to do something positive in their lives,” he said.
Up next for Lone Wolf Martial Arts is a judo clinic on March 30.