Taekwondo Club shows dedication to sport

The Taekwondo Club members practice at Dixon Recreation Center during their meeting. The club meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays every week in Dixon room MP1.

Kendall Jordan, Practicum Contributor

Members share core values of strength, commitment and friendship.

Martial arts athletes are well aware of all the stereotypes and pop culture images attached to what they do and are used to being asked if they can flip and do a sidekick or if they can chop a plank of wood in half. 

However, the members of the Oregon State University Taekwondo Club tell a much different story about what their sport really means. Their passion is all about physical fitness, learning martial skills and time-honored principles like honor and loyalty. 

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The club is about self-improvement, commitment and community, setting personal goals and striving to reach them, as well as working together as a group of friends and club mates, according to the members.

The Taekwondo Club is a diverse group of people who come from different backgrounds, experiences and majors, and who meet several times a week to condition and practice their skills in the sport.

The club participates in several regional competitions each year. Last October, eight club members traveled to the Grandmaster’s Legacy Cup Taekwondo tournament in Portland, and all eight returned with medals.  

Eric Klinkhammer, club member, also competed in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Tournament at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Club president Trisha Chau, a senior biochemistry and molecular biology major, first joined the club because of a two-week class she completed when she was a kid.

 “I wanted to come to college and do Taekwondo again and stay with it even when it got hard.” Chau said. “But that’s not the only reason, also because of the people.”

Club members’ skill levels range from no experience to black belts, according to Chau.

Melissa Swanson, a senior chemical engineering major, has wanted to learn a form of martial arts her entire life.

“I never had a chance as a child,” Swanson said. “About three weeks into my first term I found the club. I learned about it and asked if I needed any experience to join. I found out I didn’t.”

In Ronald Southwick’s work, “A Brief History of Taekwondo,” he describes Taekwondo as the Korean martial art of self-defense. In Korean, “Tae” means “to kick,” “Kwon” means “to punch” and “Do” means “way.” It is one of the oldest forms of martial arts, dating to 2,300 years ago. 

Chau spoke of the camaraderie among club members.

“It’s like a second family to me, they really are,” Chau said. “The longer you stay, the more you become like family to us.” 

According to club members, the club is about improving their own personal skills and gaining strength from their commitment to the sport, but equally as important, it is also about working and spending time with the family they have created.

According to Emma Chilcote, treasurer of the club, the more a member puts into the club, the more they get out of it. 

“There is encouragement from the team. It can be very individual, but you have the whole team around you,” Chilcote said. “But you have to be self-driven, first and foremost.”

Jong Park, a senior, believes Taekwondo brings people together.

“For me, it symbolizes friendship and strength,” said Park.

Swanson thinks Taekwondo is both a great way to exercise and to connect with a diverse group of people.

“I made a lot of really great friends. It’s a really great way to exercise,” Swanson said. “Taekwondo is something that I can commit to learning and work toward. There is a really, really unique, diverse group of members here and they welcomed me in when I didn’t know anything.”

For more information, attend one of the weekly meetings in Dixon room MP1, on the second floor. The club meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8-10 p.m., Thursdays from 9-11 p.m. and Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. 

To join the club, new members must sign a waiver and show up to practices. The first two weeks are free for new members, but afterwards, in order to join, the club is $30 per term.  Anyone who attends or is affiliated with

OSU can join. 

There are currently about 15 members and they are looking for more interested students.