SAN ANTONIO — Don't judge the kids at Victory Martial Arts by their height, but judge them by their belt!
The north San Antonio dojo is home to six Taekwondo World Champions all under the age of 15!
Youngsters Jett Fanucchi, Jason Ortiz, Grayson Stewart, Maddie Churchwell, Jade Napier, and Michael Jordan each secured top ten finishes at the American Taekwondo Association World Championships last month in Phoenix.
Each of them train with under Master Andrew O'Hara at Victory, where a hobby turned into a passion.
“Everybody starts the same," says Master O'Hara, who teaches classes of all skill levels. "Everybody comes in wanting discipline, confidence, & respect. And then that’s the foundation.”
But for the now world champions, the initial drive was more cultural.
Maddie Churchwell started because she loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Jason Ortiz wanted to be a Power Ranger.
Jade Napier's interest began when her school brought in an instructor.
"It was a pizza party," says Napier, 11. "And I went to the pizza party because I got a free invitation and they were doing a class. And I told my mom, I want to do this!"
In various forms of taekwondo, competitors are judged on every movement where one flinch can cost you can cost you a title.
“If your finger is here instead of here, that’s totally a deduction," says Churchwell, 14. "There’s a lot of detail that goes into all of it.”
When sparring with challengers from across world, discipline wins out.
“You have to know what move to do next, sparring is completely strategy," preaches Ortiz, also 14. If they do this you have to react with this.”
From creative forms to weapon brandishing, taekwondo at the World Championships requires a mastery of ancient technique.
The competition between the "San Antonio Six" at Victory brings out out the best in the craft, but Master O’Hara also sees the fun it brings out.
"I go back to accountability because they could not do it without each other," adds O'Hara. "It doesn't matter about me, it doesn't matter about any instructor, it all about their teammates."
Watch the attached clip to see KENS 5 Sports Anchor Nate Ryan train with the kids!