Five years of training and work has led to the international stage.
Aiden Demoret, 14, Ottawa, is set to compete in the 2019 ATA Martial Arts World Championships this week in Little Rock, Arkansas. The future eighth grader at Ottawa Middle School will compete in multiple taekwondo events as a member of Prime ATA in Lawrence.
This marks Demoret’s first trip to Worlds following state championships in traditional forms, traditional weapons, sparring and combat sparring, as well as being a member of Prime ATA’s team sparring and team combat state championship team in his age group.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my team to back me up, train with me and practice with me,” Demoret said.
Taekwondo traces its history back to Korea, and ATA was originally started in Omaha, Nebraska in 1969. Demoret began the martial art five years ago after meeting a demo team from Prime ATA looking for new interested parties outside of a theater, he said.
Now, after competing in 13 events this season dating back to last August, Demoret will get his first crack at Worlds, which includes competitors from across the planet. Demoret has already been to Little Rock this season for another event, and has competed in Shakopee, Minnesota; Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska; St. Louis, Missouri; Sioux City, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Kansas City.
Demoret has a number of goals at Worlds, the first being to win, he said. One is to support his teammates and, of course, make new friends along the way.
“Just try to do the best of my ability,” Demoret said. “You are going to see people from all over the place that I’ve never seen before. It is going to be different.”
Demoret and his father, Brian, explained that taekwondo does include contact, but is not an overly-physical martial art. It is a lifetime sport, allowing any age to get started.
“There are gentlemen and ladies working their way up, trying to stay in shape and keep their range of motion who are as old as I am,” Brian said. “There is a third-degree black belt at 82 years old. It does not have to be an overly physical martial art. There are kicks and punches, but it is all about fluidity.”
That and mental strength will be key for Aiden when he is judged in forms. Traditional weapons is a similar event, but includes “extensions of the body” including Demoret’s weapon — Ssahng Jeol Bong (similar to nunchucks).
Saturday marks the final day in Little Rock, which also kick-starts the new season allowing a chance to get a jump in the point standings. Aiden plans to compete in that, and will be tested for his second-degree black belt in September.
Of all the excitement surrounding Aiden’s rise in the martial arts world, he noted the best things to come from taekwondo is self-confidence, self-defense knowledge and making new friends.
“It is a way to build your confidence,” he said. “It teaches you self defense so your parents do have to be afraid to let you out late at night. You will be able to defend yourself.”