Karate chop: student wins 21st world championship

Hannah Cho

Kathryn Tian ’17 won her 21st world title at the World Organization of Martial Arts Athletes International World Martial Games XVI after defeating both girls and boys in the 17 and under black belt division in July.

Tian traveled to Germany for the martial arts competition as one of 34 members on Team USA.

Tian trained for a week with her teammates, getting to know them better and becoming familiar with the competition rules and layouts with this particular tournament.

During that week, Tian had to train in conference rooms because of lack of training facilities.

“I traveled with the team and competed with people from other countries,” Tian said. “It was really nice because before the competition we had a week to train and bond with other people from our team, and that helped me form connections with other people. During the competition, we would cheer for each other.”

To compete at the international competition, Tian had to place in the top two at a qualifying tournament in January.

“It wasn’t easy qualifying since there were so many talented people there,” Tian said. “I think most of the stress just came from traveling and competing while dealing with schoolwork and tests.”

The competition consisted of two rounds. In the first round, Tian competed against six other girls.

After defeating her opponents, she moved on to the next round where she went against four boys in the division to win the world title.

“For me at this point, [going against the boys] is not that scary anymore,” Tian said. “I remember when I was little I was scared, but now, I’m like ‘Hey, I can do it. I’m not scared.”

Although Tian has been to two other international tournaments in Italy and Canada, WOMAA was different because it was bigger and consisted of other styles besides the Japanese martial art karate, such as the Chinese martial art wushu.

“The format of the competition was different,” Tian said. “Usually, I compete in taekwondo do or karate, but at this tournament, taekwondo, karate and wushu were all combined in one. And in the final big competition, everyone from all different kinds of backgrounds all competed against each other.”

In order to prepare for the upcoming tournament, Tian trained intensely during the month of June. She practiced both forms, which is similar to a martial arts routine, and fighting styles.

However, she practices one to three hours on a daily basis, depending on her work load.

Tian has been studying taekwondo since she was 5 years old and studying karate for the last five years.

Tian has also been teaching students in these forms privately at the Gold Medal Martial Arts Studio and at the martial arts club that she started at Harvard-Westlake.

Overall, Tian felt that the experience exposed her to see styles from different countries.