Martial arts tournament back in East Texas


LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - After over a year of canceled events and tournaments, competitors gathered in East Texas once again to test their skills.

A martial arts tournament was held, and it was one students had long awaited.

Students from different schools, and varying disciplines in martial arts, gathered at Summit Heights in Holly Lake to compete in forms and weapons.

“It was an energy rush. It felt amazing, rejuvenating, and I’m glad that I could get out here and compete with my fellow students,” said Destin Carlyle, a 16-year-old taekwondo black belt.

In 2020, tournament after tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many, it was the first real competition in over a year.

“About a year and a month. After about the 4th tournament was cancelled, I was like, ‘Practice is good,’” said 14 year old martial arts student Sam Strong.

“Our kids are practicing all the time, but they don’t really have an avenue to compare to other schools and to practice the art at large,” said Gilmer taekwondo instructor Lisa Ray.

Unlike other sports, martial arts skills are measured in head-to head tournaments, a fair assessment for each student on how their skill level is developing.

“It’s been a very tough thing for all the children involved in any type of sporting event. They practice and practice and don’t get a chance to go out and show their abilities,” said parent Rick Carlyle.

“The opportunities that they’ve been missing for so long does more damage than we realized. It’s really important for their growth,” Ray said.

The tournament also gave the students an opportunity to learn from other disciplines.

“I believe I did as good as I thought I was going to do. Maybe a little better,” Carlyle said.

And one of the main lessons of martial arts is conquer your fears.

“To test their skills of bravery, courage and self-confidence, and and we are so glad that that’s coming back into view,” Ray said.

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