HEAD­ING TO NA­TION­ALS

Five Is­land Mar­tial Arts stu­dents go­ing to Cal­gary.

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST news@cb­post.com

It’s a week­night taekwondo class at the Is­land Mar­tial Arts Cen­tre and about a dozen padded stu­dents face each other in pairs, trad­ing light kicks, punches and el­bows.

But in the cor­ner of the gym­na­sium, one per­son works in solitude, re­peat­ing a slow se­ries of el­e­gant moves that seem as much a dance as mar­tial arts.

Janna MacLean is one of five Is­land Mar­tial Arts black belts who will head to Cal­gary, Alta., later this month for the 2017 Taekwondo Na­tional Cham­pi­onships. How­ever, un­like her team­mates who are tak­ing part in the spar­ring com­pe­ti­tions, she will be the first Is­land Mar­tial Arts Cen­tre stu­dent to ever com­pete in the poomse, or forms, at the na­tion­als.

Un­like spar­ring where stu­dents have a cer­tain amount of cre­ative lee­way and styles vary from com­peti­tor to com­peti­tor, the poomse is a strictly reg­i­mented se­ries of mo­tions that en­com­pass all of the tech­ni­cal move­ments of taekwondo but with a re­fined grace and pre­ci­sion.

“That’s how I have to ex­plain it to all my friends — ‘Yeah, it’s kind of a dance,’” says MacLean, a 14-year-old Syd­ney River res­i­dent who re­ceived her black belt in Novem­ber.

She said the eight sep­a­rate parts of the poomse, each with its own set of a dozen or more move­ments, is much more de­mand­ing than it may seem. As well, even the slight­est er­ror in po­si­tion­ing can be costly in the eyes of the judges.

“I get ex­tremely fo­cused dur­ing it. And it’s very tir­ing. It doesn’t look like it’s re­ally tir­ing, but it’s pretty dif­fi­cult. For na­tion­als, it’s go­ing to be pretty pre­cise, like if you had it here in­stead of here,” she said, mov­ing her hand less than two inches, “that’s a point-one de­duc­tion.”

MacLean’s de­ci­sion to com­pete in the poomse has also been a chal­lenge for Is­land Mar­tial Arts Cen­tre head in­struc­tor Bran­don Fraser. He’s had some­one from Hal­i­fax come down to help work on the finer points of the poomse with MacLean and he’s also been speak­ing reg­u­larly with a ref­eree in On­tario to learn ex­actly what judges look for.

He’s even cut pool noo­dles to use as guides to help MacLean with her poomse stance, which is dif­fer­ent than a tra­di­tional taekwondo fight­ing po­si­tion.

“The bot­tom move­ments that she makes are very spec­i­fied, so we’ve tried our best to use any tools that we can to re­ally get the stan­dard stances and move­ments that she has to get down,” Fraser said.

“It’s a com­pletely new realm for us but it’s some­thing we’re look­ing to get some ex­pe­ri­ence and build upon as we go.”

The other Is­land Mar­tial Arts stu­dents com­pet­ing at na­tion­als are: Lexi Hil­lier, 11; Noah Druggett, 11; Ben Epi­fano, 16; and Josh Gen­ter, 16.

The Taekwondo Na­tional Cham­pi­onships run form May 25-29.

CAPE BRE­TON POST

Janna MacLean, 14, per­forms some of the poomse move­ments dur­ing an Is­land Mar­tial Arts Cen­tre class Wed­nes­day in Syd­ney. The 14-year-old Syd­ney River res­i­dent is one of five Is­land Mar­tial Arts black belts who will head to Cal­gary, Alta., later this month for the 2017 Taekwondo Na­tional Cham­pi­onships.

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