WATSONVILLE — The Santa Cruz Open Taekwondo Championships was held Saturday for the 28th year running, and this time Watsonville played host.
Close to 500 students participated in the tournament — from local studios to some as far away as Fresno — which was held at Watsonville High School.
“When it’s tournament season, there are sometimes one or two tournaments per month,” said Linda Eguchi, a Master Teacher at Watsonville Taekwondo Academy. “This one is basically in our backyard, so we encourage all students to participate.”
The Watsonville Taekwondo Academy Booster Club helped make that a reality by funding 100 percent of the studio’s students to attend and compete at the tournament. A good deal of the support came from their annual Fourth of July fireworks booth.
“The money we receive from that, and other smaller fundraisers, goes directly to helping the kids take part in tournaments,” Eguchi said.
Forty-four students of the Watsonville Taekwondo Academy, Watsonville’s oldest Taekwondo studio, attended the all-day tournament, competing in various divisions and winning a total of 68 medals.
The Santa Cruz Open started almost three decades ago by Grandmaster Sang U. Jin, who remains as tournament director. Both Eguchi and fellow Master Teacher Carry Cheaney expressed how thankful they were for him keeping the event going for so long.
“It’s different from other tournaments where everything is competitive and strict,” Cheaney said. “Every kid can walk away with a medal. They all come back to practice with renewed excitement, ready to do more.”
Cheaney mentioned that a good deal of their students are on scholarships, which is why participating in this tournament is so important.
“This might be the only tournament they do all year,” Eguchi said. “It’s a great experience. It helps them overcome their fears and just have fun.”
Watsonville Taekwondo Academy is located at 962 East Lake Ave. in the East Lake Shopping Center. For class information, call 722-0963 or visit the studio’s Facebook page.