Local teen is a taekwondo world championRHS junior won the world championship in taekwondo forms June 24 in Little Rock, Ark.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
Some of Noah Phillips’ friends at Rosemount High School call him Ninja.
It might be because he dedicates so much time to training in taekwondo. Or maybe it’s because of the flips he does from time to time in the RHS hallways — most often, it seems, when there are girls around. But whatever the origin of the nickname, the RHS junior’s performance June 24 at the taekwondo world championships lends it some new meaning.
Competing against the top 10 performers in the world according to points accumulated at tournaments throughout the year, Phillips brought home a world championship in forms, an event in which competitors have to perform a specific series of moves as best they can. The goal is to get the motions right and to look as fluid as possible doing it.
“I’ve always been flexible,” Phillips said. “That was a big help.”
The world championship win was one of several goals Phillips had written on his bathroom mirror. Other goals included kicking higher and doing the splits on a pair of chairs.
Competing in the 15- to 17-year-old age bracket, Phillips also placed in the other three competition categories — weapons, sparring and Xtreme Martial Arts forms, which is similar to traditional forms but less choreographed and with bigger movements like those flips Phillips uses to impress the girls at RHS.
But it’s the forms win that’s the biggest deal.
Bringing home the world title wasn’t easy. Because he’d accumulated one of the best point totals over the course of the year Phillips was among the last competitors in forms at last month’s world championships. The score he received tied him with one of the other competitors. That made Phillips freak out a little bit. It meant performing again just a couple of minutes later, while he was still tired. But when he was finished with his second performance he knew he’d done well.
“I was like, yeah, I rocked that form,” he said.
When the judges pointed to him as the winner, it was a huge moment. His mother, Regina Blevins, said her son looked stunned.
“I was really happy, that’s for sure,” Phillips said. “She was crying. That didn’t help much.”
Phillips got a medal for his win, and he will get to wear World Champion in red letters on the back of his uniform.
“It makes me feel pretty good,” he said. “Not many people have that.
Phillips got an early start in taekwondo. He took his first lesson when he was 4 years old and he continued training for three or four years. But he quit when he was 8 to try out other sports. He wanted to play baseball, he said, because he’d never played a team sport.
After a few years of that, though, other kids started getting bigger and faster. Phillips had always been pretty good at taekwondo, so a couple of years ago he took it up again.
Phillips has weekly private lessons with his coach. Those can last from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the coach’s mood. In the weeks before a tournament he trains an hour or two on his own, and between competitions he trains half an hour a day.
It’s a lot of work, but Phillips thinks its worth it. Because of all of the traveling he does for competitions he’s met a lot of people. He’s competed against kids from Brazil and Chile. He has friends all over the country.
Most of the tournaments during the school year start on a Friday, but teachers have been good about allowing him to turn in assignments online or to get his work done in different ways. And he still found time last year to be in co-curricular choirs, the school’s dance show and OnStage, the RHS musical variety show. He was on the A honor roll for the third trimester last year.
Phillips doesn’t know where taekwondo will take him. He’d like to teach eventually. But for now he’s having a lot of fun just doing what he’s doing.
The fact he gets to call himself a world champion doesn’t hurt.
“No one can take 2011 world champion in forms away from me,” he said.