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Students find community in taekwondo club

Evan Corzine

Taekwondo club member Evan Corzine practices a wheel kick. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Fights among students at DU usually are not tolerated, but every once in a while they’re actually encouraged.

At Club Taekwondo, one of DU’s 28 club sports groups, they’re a regular occurrence.

Sure, it’s all just sparring—students blowing off a little academic stress and steam (actually they call it “soft sparring” and they don helmets and gloves)—but still, you might think any spilled blood might be bad blood. Not so—at least at this club.

Even though the students differ greatly in ability levels (beginners to black belts), in gender (a 50-50 split of men and women) and in geographic background (Taiwan, Mongolia, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Kenya, France and the United States)—and despite all the wicked kicks and brutal punches—they still get along.

Senior Maggi Crabb, the club’s president, says other club sports at DU she’s experienced lacked the sense of community she found with Club Taekwondo.

“I had a hard time making friends at DU,” Crabb says. “Taekwondo helped me to find people I can relate to. I’ve had a much better undergraduate experience because of this club.”

When members aren’t beating on each other, they’re hanging out together, eating at one of the late-night restaurants around campus, working out at the gym or going to the movies. Senior Megan Westervelt, who joined the club to feel safer after she was mugged three years ago, holds dinners and kung fu movie parties at her apartment.

Westervelt adds that because the club’s members hail from all over, she was eager to meet them and learn about their lives.

“I gained some of my best friends at DU [there],” she says.

The club’s former president, Huy Huynh, concurs. “The club fosters fun. It’s where people come together as strangers but eventually unite as a family.”

The camaraderie doesn’t surprise the club’s founder, Master Lee Cutright. He says Taekwondo teaches courtesy and respect.

“Students learn to trust and respect each other,” Cutright says. “One of the biggest benefits is the enduring friendships.”

In the club, students learn how to use the whole body as a weapon, along with avoidance footwork, striking, throwing and joint-manipulation techniques.

As aggressive (and painful) as those sound, it’s still about harmony.

“At practice we work on our form and techniques, but we also bond,” Crabb says. “From the moment you walk in the door as a new member, you find people introducing themselves and welcoming you.”


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