Local takes second at U.S. Open Taekwondo National Championship

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

There aren’t many people in Idaho like Matt McCoy.

The owner of Dynasty Taekwondo, McCoy isn’t just an accomplished martial artist — he competes on a national level in tournaments often used to narrow down candidates for Olympic teams. Over the course of competition, he’s won championships in his age and weight brackets, and this March added another medal to the mantelplace with a second-place ranking in the U.S. Open Taekwondo National Championships.

That’s no small achievement given the size of the U.S. Open. The same organization that runs its famous tournaments for golf, tennis and other sports, the U.S. Open Taekwondo National Championships routinely attract around 2,400 martial artists from 77 countries to test their skills against the best in the world. Divided into divisions based on age and weight, competitors square off in a series of matches, trying to land kicks and punches on their opponent to score points. Fighters wear electronic sensors to determine whether or not points are awarded for landed blows.

Matt McCoy prepares for another match. Courtesy Facebook.

The result is a sport that tests the mind as much as the body. Korean in origin, taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on speed and agility, with dramatic head-height kicks at the core of its techniques. That means that in competitions, much of the first round is spent learning an opponent, gaining a feel for his or her speed, aggression and ability.

“It’s very much a situation where you have to be focused and disciplined and reacting right in the moment to what’s happening,” McCoy said.

A competitor’s coach is a valuable asset as the pair work through the best approach to face an opponent. McCoy has had the same coach for six years

The latest drama unfolded March 1 when McCoy’s competed at the U.S. Open Taekwondo Championship, which occurred between Feb. 28-March 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. His first opponent was a skilled competitor, but McCoy ended up dominating the match after the first round was over, winning with a score of 5-1.

“This gentleman was from the east coast,” McCoy said. “I never sparred him before. He was a little smaller but very fast and agile.”

The second match was a different story. This time, McCoy sparred against a Brazilian martial artist, and for much of the match, he led with a score of 3-2. But toward the end of the final round, McCoy’s opponent struck true with a head kick, and with little time in the round to make up for the points, he lost the match with a score of 5-3. He was an extremely skilled martial artist, McCoy said.

“He was just almost my size, but very fast, and he had a very good read on distance and timing,” McCoy added.

This is just the latest high-profile victory for McCoy, who has practiced taekwondo for 13 years and owned Dynasty Taekwondo since 2010. In 2010 and 2011, he took the national championship in the Amateur Athletic Union’s taekwondo championship, an event almost as big as the U.S. Open. With victories like that under his belt, there’s no telling what the future holds for McCoy’s career as a martial artist. 

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