2017 US Open in Las Vegas, Nevada came and went as the last of the Generation TKD competition team member fought to make sure team GT did not come home medal-less. Russell Sambrano didn't win the coveted gold medal, but rather took home a much deserved silver in his cadet 65kg division. Along with his medal, the biggest price he came home with was Master Chino's utmost respect. At the end of Russell's match, Master Chino said with a sigh of relief, "Maaannn... what a PHENOMENAL performance from him today. He's been consistently in the top 3 nationally for 2 years regardless of the age and belt." He was completely smitten by Russell's mental and professional strength. He cannot help but beam to his other students that this is a fellow team member who they should fashion in their own way.
5 out of the 6 team members who attended with Russell, the 2017 US Open was their first fray into international competition. 3 of them to be exact attended the tournament as recent junior black belts. Master Chino remarked, "I do not differentiate between my black belts. I expect all of them to put their best foot forward on any of the nationally or internationally USAT sanctioned games." He only hoped for Angeleen, Troy, Angelo, Angel and Sydney to use the experience as a learning vessel. Colored belt division paled in comparison to what the black belt division events brought because the seriousness of the event was palpable in everyone's faces.
Sparring amongst the world's best was not a small feat. Angelo and Troy exited the tourney after losing their second match. Master Chino added, "I want both those boys to learn why they lost, and for them to use that to keep the hunger alive. They need to taste the defeat before they can fully embrace the wins." Angeleen, Sydney and Angel succumbed early in their first match losses. "From here on," Master Chino said, "the next steps for them is to be agile and fight like tacticians. Winning the first match is key for the kids because it is that first win that will boost their confidence."
Generation TKD debuted their poomsae program with Sydney competing in World Class poomsae. Her competitors were truly crisp, precise and seasoned. She fielded against 21 black belt competitors, and placed 5th just missing the last medal spot by 0.15. Master Chino's head coach for poomsae Coach Moon said, "To come out 5th is not bad for a 2 week old junior black belt rookie in world class bunch. We at least know now what we are up against, and will just have to work little by little to learn the scoring game."
Overall, the international tournament lived up to all its hype. It brought the world's best of the best. Every training drill or bouts, Master Chino's hope is for his kids to bring that into any tourney ring. He needs for them to know how to relax and treat such tourneys like it's just another training day. Once the kids learn that zen feeling, only then they can strategically learn their opponents.