Four Riverbend Tae Kwon Do students earn grand championships

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Recently, students from Muscatine’s Riverbend Tae Kwon Do Academy competed in the International Martial Arts Group Regional Taekwondo Championships. Four students, Kimi DeWinter, Clarissa and Declan McNally, and Brayde Smith earned grand championships, qualifying them for the United Taekwondo Alliance’s national competition in Plano, Texas, in 2023.

A group of students with a diverse set of skills, the competitors earned their grand championships in a number of different events. Kimi, a second degree black belt, earned her grand championship in board breaking using a variety of different techniques, completing more successful board breaks using different techniques than any of the other competitors. Clarissa, a poomsae belt, one level below first degree black belt, and Declan, a second degree black belt, earned the championship for team forms, where they completed a synchronized pattern together. Brayde placed as the grand champion for forms and weapons, demonstrating a variety of skills, including his ability to perform an advanced num-chuk pattern.

With so many students from Riverbend Tae Kwon Do distinguishing themselves and demonstrating good sportsmanship, Riverbend Tae Kwon Do Academy Co-Owner and Lead Instructor Jamie Cavazos delighted in how his students did. He shared he felt: “proud of everyone who competed regardless of the results. The respect that they showed the fellow competitors regardless of the results is what I am most proud of–the world needs more of this and less of tearing others down.”

Cavazos also appreciated how the students’ dedication to their training helped them succeed at the competition. “Consistency is the biggest thing that attributed to not only the grand champion winners, but all our competitors,” he observed. “They put the hours training in months before and saw the fruits of their labor payoff.”

Riverbend Tae Kwon Do Academy grand champions Brayde Smith, Declan McNally, Clarissa McNally, and Kimi DeWinter. Photo courtesy Naomi DeWinter.

The students who competed took pride in their accomplishments as well. Kimi said, “I think I did well and I learned a lot.”

Kimi, now a seventh grader, started taking tae kwon do lessons five years ago when her father encouraged everyone in the family to learn martial arts for self-defense. As a black belt, she enjoys studying tae kwon do as a student, competing, and also starting to teach introductory tae kwon do to younger students.

As this group of grand champions continues to train for additional competitions, Cavazos welcomes those interested in starting tae kwon do and developing their own skills to try lessons. Riverbend currently offers classes for students from age four through adulthood. Any new student may take two weeks of lessons for free to allow them to try tae kwon do for themselves and see if it suits them. Anyone interested in signing up for lessons may email Riverbend Tae Kwon Do Academy or send a message to their Facebook page to get more information and to register.

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