TNT students compete in virtual tournament

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Members of Stephenville's TNT School of Self Defense competed in a virtual reality taekwondo tournament Saturday. Pictured are (front, from left) Karlee King, Kade King, (back) instructor Troy Smith, Ryan Leseberg and Nolan Miller.

Now even Taekwondo competition is venturing into the wonderful world of virtual events, online.

Five students with Stephenville’s TNT School of Self Defense, along with their instructor, Master Troy Smith, placed in their respective divisions in a virtual karate tournament conducted online Saturday.

Competitors from around the world competed in the event, sanctioned by the World Federation of Elite Martian Arts, Smith said.

He said that competitors from places such as Bermuda, the United Kingdom and South America participated in the event.

“This was only the second (virtual) one they’ve had,” said Smith, who has been the instructor at TNT in Stephenville for seven years and has about 50 students in all.

Smith said he began teaching Taekwondo in Fort Worth in 1980.

Ryan Leseberg won first place in his division in both Creative Breaking and in the new event for the virtual format, called Crazy Athletic.

Nolan Miller won first place in his division in Crazy Athletic, and earned third place in Kata.

Karlee King placed second in her division in both Kata and Crazy Athletic.

Kade King, Karlee’s brother, took second place in his division in Crazy Athletic and third in Kata.

Benjamin Selem placed fourth in his division in Kata.

Smith also competed in his own adult division, and won first place in both Creative Breaking and Crazy Athletic.

A panel of judges scored each competitor, Smith noted, divided into various online “rings.” One judge was viewing from Washington, D.C., while another was in Bermuda and one was in Houston.

“It was all live via Zoom! Hopefully this is NOT the new norm but we did enjoy it,” Smith stated in an email. “Six of us from TNT in Stephenville competed in Kata, Crazy Athletic (where you do as many of the 5 determined exercises as you can do in 1 minute each with 1 minute break in between) and creative breaking divisions. A special thanks to JR Sain and Alex and Jace Rogers for being there for support and thanks to my assistant instructors Steve Trogdon and Joe Saldana for all their help and support.”

Smith said that another virtual tournament is set for July 5, and another will will be in August.