A dozen local Martial Arts enthusiasts can claim the title of world champions after winning the American Tae Kwon Do Association’s world title last Saturday in Little Rock, Ark.
The demo team from the Edge ATA martial arts studio in Gainesville, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, defeated a team from San Antonio to complete the rise to the top in the first year of competition for the team.
The ATA is the largest martial arts organization in the world, with more than 1,000 schools in the U.S. and 300,000 members worldwide, according to the Edge ATA website.
Bart Edge, who owns the studio along with his wife Christine — both fourth-degree black belts with 19 years of training — said the team is already preparing to return to nationals in Orlando in the fall for another run at the world title.
“They’re just going to continue working together, training together and hopefully win the world championships next year,” said Edge, who added that the perks of being the defending champ include being featured on the ESPN3.com programming of the nationals tournament in Orlando, where last fall the local demo team beat out 12 other teams to qualify to compete in Arkansas.
The champion was chosen by the fans, both in the Verizon Arena and watching on pay-per-view, who were able to text in their vote for which team had the best choreographed performance of the various Tae Kwon Do forms.
The Edge ATA team is composed of students at the academy between the ages of 8 and 22 who have been training the past year for the tournament. Edge said the team decided to try to at least make nationals and, if possible, the world championships.
“It was the very first demo team we’ve put together for competition,” he said. “The first time we set the goal to at least to nationals.”
Edge added that the students have been training anywhere from four to seven days a week in preparation. They are led by team captain Ciel Ata Solwazi, one of three past individual world champions in the team.
Edge added that the team’s big win has created excitement around the community.
“It really motivated the students,” he said. “And our other students have these students to look up to.
“We feel like we have a great family atmosphere, and this has energized other students to set goals for themselves.”