Lynnwood taekwondo athletes head to Pan Am competition

LYNNWOOD, Washington, June 22, 2022 – Four teenage taekwondo athletes, fighting out of the Northwest Black Belt Academy in Lynnwood, have been selected to represent the United States at this year’s Pan Am Championship. Two others from the academy will compete for their home country, Malaysia.

The Pan American Championship is a continental championship where the winners of their country compete to determine who is the best athlete of the continent. This year’s competition will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica, welcoming athletes from across North, Central and South America.

From June 30 to July 3, Victor Sanchez (15), Montana Miller (15), Taylan Allison (15) and Trinity Yamada (12) will put their years of martial arts experience to the test during ‘a day. elimination-style bracket tournament to see who reigns supreme. Two other athletes, Emanuel Tan and Sebastian Tan (who also train out of the Lynnwood dojang), will compete for their home country of Malaysia, while also representing the Northwest Black Belt Academy.

Victor Sanchez always wanted to learn how to fight and became interested in taekwondo while watching Power Rangers. While he wouldn’t mind competing in the Olympics one day, to him the hard work and dedication involved in taekwondo, and what it teaches him about himself, is far more important than high-level tournaments. level.

He’s been practicing taekwondo for about four years and can’t wait to experience what it’s like to fight athletes from other countries in Costa Rica. On his return from Costa Rica, he will fly to Bulgaria a month later to participate in a world championship.

“Tae Kwan Do can be very difficult at times, not just physically but mentally,” Sanchez said. “Before, I was not really confident, I was not who I am today, but during these two years, taekwondo helped me to become a better person. I have good morals , discipline, respect I really encourage people to try taekwondo, not only because you get fit, but you learn some really good life skills that will help you throughout your life.

Montana Miller grew up in a taekwondo family, with her parents being athletes even before she was born. After an incident where her sister was being chased by a “weird man”, her parents decided to enroll their children in martial arts. She eventually wants to work to compete in the Olympics and has been practicing taekwondo for about eight years.

“Taekwondo is really fun, but it also creates a strong bond with your team,” Miller said. We’re all like a family, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a great sport.

Taylan Allison signed up for taekwondo because her parents wanted her to participate in a sport near her home and meet before dinner. Taylan is a “baby in sports” compared to the others, but she was pushed to the top because of her work ethic and attitude. In less than a year, she will now be heading to the Pan Am Championships.

Allison has been practicing taekwondo for about four years and started training this season. She looks forward to fighting in a new environment and gaining new experiences in Costa Rica.

“I really want to stick with it because I love it and I want to keep gaining experience and fighting hard because I really love what I’m doing,” Allison said. “Tae Kwan Do is not just fun, it’s a discipline. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it, and I think that’s really important in life.

Trinity Yamada’s parents wanted her to participate in a sport that could help protect her. She eventually wants to work to compete in the Olympics and other high-level tournaments. She has been practicing taekwondo for about seven years. She looks forward to international experience and competition and outdoes herself.

“Tae Kwan Do is very competitive. If you do taekwondo you should like it, you shouldn’t do anything you don’t want to do. Taekwondo teaches you a lot of ways to live…respect, discipline and it’s fun,” Trinity said.

Prior to competition, these athletes competed in a series of four championships including a state, regional (or grand prix), national, and then a final bout representing Team USA. Their selection to compete in the Pan American competition was based on their points and performance in those four competitions.

“The work ethic, the drive these guys have is phenomenal,” Joe Whitworth, founder and trainer of the Northwest Black Belt Academy, told the Lynnwood Times. “The approach we take is to work hard and see where it takes you. The process is important, and the journey is important, where we end up is where we end up, but the mentality is that these guys there will always go for the gold.

Master Joe Whitworth was born in South Korea. He lived in an orphanage until the age of 10, when he was adopted by his English-speaking American family. When he started elementary school, as a foreigner, he was teased and bullied by other children, so soon after arriving in the United States, he began learning taekwondo at a local school. . Martial arts gave him the confidence he needed to assert himself.

Currently, Master Joe is a 5th degree black belt and has 25 years of experience teaching martial arts. Master Joe expects a lot from his students. He encourages his students to work hard in the martial arts and in school. Students turn to Master Joe for instruction in technique, for a lesson in life, for a good laugh after class, and for inspiration when times get tough.

“I never really wanted to teach Tae Kwan Do, it was not my goal, I knew I wanted to teach and help children, because of what I went through, but it fell on me “Whitworth told the Lynnwood. Time.

Master Joe Whitworth (center) with his students at Pan Am Texas.

For those wishing to watch the Pan Am tournament, you can view the live stream of the event at

A GoFundMe account has also been set up by the dojang to help support travel and tournament fees for their athletes. To donate, visit

“These guys work so hard that they work about six days a week, about two hours a day. They’re dedicated kids, they get good grades, they’re just good human beings,” Master Joe said.

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