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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Sophomore’s life modeled by Taekwondo teachings

Standing at 5’5”, sophomore Max Vo has sometimes been written off by others as too small in the competitive world of taekwondo. But he had a choice: either spend the rest of his life sulking about his genetics or use what he has to achieve more than anyone else could.

Vo began to hit the weight room, starting the summer of eighth grade.

He started out not being able to lift much and was often made fun of by his stronger peers. Fortunately, hard work knows who to help. Soon, Vo could outlift everyone who doubted him when he started.

“I had a chip on my shoulder,” Vo said. “I felt like I had something to prove.”

Day after day his physique grew, and those who had once mocked him were silenced.

He did not lift simply for appearances. Everything Vo did was to improve his taekwondo skills. His new found strength has allowed him to throw harder punches, finer kicks, and to overall excel in his sport.

“The moment I started taekwondo, I knew it was for me,” Vo said. “I just forget everything else and am at peace when I do taekwondo.”

His training regimen consists of two hours of practice for five days a week. Each practice consists of both endurance training to increase stamina and technique repetition to refine kicks and punches.

Vo participates in various tournaments around the nation. The biggest tournament he attends is the annual summer USA national tournament. With a total of 35 medals in, he participates in two main events.

The biggest tournament he attends is the annual summer USA national tournament. One is “kyorugi,” where two opponents wearing padding spar against one another, and points are based on which body part is successfully hit.

However, Vo mainly focuses on “poomsae,” a form of taekwondo focused on patterns and techniques, with scoring based on accuracy and presentation.

Vo is recognized by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) as a second-degree black belt and is  training to become a third-degree black belt.

Official certification from the Korean taekwondo headquarters is given to people who pass standardized WTF tests given to them by their administrators.

Vo started his taekwondo journey at the Hung Vuong Institute in north San Jose at age 6. Urged originally by his parents to start practicing, he eventually became self-motivated.  Since then, strenuous training has brought him to the national level.

Despite the increased workload of sophomore year, Vo always is managing to find time to practice taekwondo.

“My biggest goal is to find time to practice as much as I can and keep my commitment [to taekwondo],” Vo said. “It’s something I look forward to every day.”

Vo’s skills have developed to a point, where he no has the ability to seriously injure and even kill and individual. But Vo knows taekwondo is not to be used for violence.

He values the sport’s teachings and is proud of its influence on his daily life.

“Taekwondo is not just fighting; it’s really a way of life, and to be a martial artist means you need to follow the philosophies that they teach and  live every aspect of your life according to what you are taught,” Vo said. “Taekwondo teaches you to have respect, discipline, honesty, loyalty and charity.”

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