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Sparring grounds

Casey Sapio | The Daily Wildcat Casey Sapio / Arizona Daily Wildcat Jessica Cox and Kurt Fluck practice sparring to prepare for an upcoming Tae Kwan Do tournament in the Rec Center in Tucson, Ariz. on Thurs, Sept. 17, 2009.

Six UA martial artists look to highlight Wildcat prowess as the American Taekwondo Association commences its Arizona Regional Tournament this Saturday.

""We have a really good reputation for high performance,"" said American Taekwondo Club of Arizona Treasurer Heidi Lyons.

""We're the only university club in the country, and we try to represent.""

Lyons and her fellow club members will represent the UA in the showdown that begins 9 a.m. Saturday at the Tucson Convention Center.

Awards are given on an individual performance basis, but the club is heading into competition with a team state of mind.

Last season, the club won 43 medals and five State Champion titles.

Comparable to a gymnastics meet with different events and judges, the tae kwon do tournament will showcase a variety of martial arts skills and packages.

Competitions include traditional forms and traditional weapons, in which participants demonstrate pre-set, standardized routines.

""There are also other extreme events like ‘extreme forms' and ‘extreme weapons', and finally some new ‘creative events' which are in-between the extreme and traditional for people that can't do the flips and flashy stuff, but (who) still want to go outside the box,"" Lyons said.

Tae kwon do has typically surrounded the ""traditional"" aspects, instructor Kenny Ho explained.

""I think the traditional forms are really actually quite pretty,"" he said. ""Other people like sparring for the partner interaction and different things coming at you, but I'm still a fan of the precision forms.""

With the exception of sparring, each event is evaluated by a set of three judges consisting of a hand, foot and center judge.

The competitors are scored on things such as form, attitude, presentation and appearance based on a one-to-nine point scale.

Sparring is judged on a contact system. Connections to different parts of the body are awarded different point values.

The American Taekwondo Club of Arizona Wildcats feel they are more than prepared to catch the judges' eyes.

The ""extreme"" side of the competition entails martial arts ""tricking"" with stylish flips and combos.

Club President Simon Domsky will be demonstrating extreme weapons on behalf of Arizona.

""I'll be doing gymnastics spins, flips and tricks,"" Domsky said. ""Things that aren't typically considered ‘traditional tae kwon do.' I enjoy being able to achieve that level of perfection but still pushing myself to achieve the tricks that are not commonly seen in tae kwon do.

""The weapons aspect just adds more attitude and a performance base,"" he added.

Ho said he feels very confident in his students' capabilities, as they have been fine-tuning their skills all summer, and is hoping to show them off in true Wildcat fashion.

Throwing in a live audience and fan interaction adds to his hopes for a solid outing.

""It's a lot more fun,"" he explained. ""Sparring is great with a lot of people, and the extremes are a lot of fun with the people clapping along and screaming and cheering.""

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