The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Junior Ranks Nationally in Taekwondo

Very few can associate their names with a national title. Junior Joseph Ong not only claims a second place victory at Nationals, but holds it in a unique sport: Taekwondo.

Starting at the age of eight, Joseph filled his time after school with Taekwondo. He became involved at such a young age with encouragement from his parents to find something to do with his time. However, it wasn’t until he was about 13 years-old that he really started to excel in the sport.

“Sometime in 2009, I went to this big tournament called the U.S. Open which is open to pretty much any country,” Joseph said. “I got pretty beat up and my dad wasn’t happy about that. I wasn’t happy about that either, so [my dad and I] went on this journey to a lot of tournaments locally and outside the state. Eventually I got a lot better and found myself competing outside the country too.”

With his gradual improvements through practice and experience, Joseph now competes in the 15 to 17 age group in the “fin weight” division, which is the subset for athletes under 45 kilograms or 99 pounds. After taking second place at Nationals in Chicago this July, Joseph has been able to travel across the globe for Taekwondo.

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He was able to compete in Kothe Pan-American championships in Mexico in September after qualifying by competing against others. In both Korea and Mexico, Joseph was overtaken by other fighters but mangaged to place third at both tournaments. However, he maintains a positive attitude towards the events despite the defeats.

“I couldn’t have gotten to go to Korea and Mexico if I hadn’t had the determination and mindset to win my right to go to those places,” Joseph said.

The process of developing skill in this sport was not as simple as just travelling to various tournaments. Joseph put a lot of time into mastering form, practicing not only at his Taekwondo studio but also at home; he also worked on gaining stamina to help him to compete.

When he first began, Joseph was a member of the school Kim’s Taekwondo. However, soon after, he decided to find a more competitive school and dedicate more time to the sport. He found this at Manila Taekwondo in Union City where he trained much more competitively. From there, he was able to secure many of the titles he currently holds, such as being nationally ranked and placing in many other tournaments.

The competing does not stop here for Joseph. He hopes to continue to compete in the sport throughout college. However, once he graduates from the junior division of 15 to 17, he will be competing with men from ages 18 to 32, making it much more challenging. For now, he has immediate goals to get even higher in the rankings for his current division.

“Next year, instead of second place [at Nationals], I aim to get first place,” Joseph said. “Next year is also World Championships for juniors in Asia, so I want to go there.”

Joseph’s skill level is high, however his goals are set even higher. Because of that, he will be required to put in more effort than before in order to reach that level of achievement.

“I had to put in a lot of hours, a lot of days of the week. It was a huge time sacrifice, but all worth it in the end,” Joseph said.

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