Top Tier hosts Taekwondo Korean martial arts tournament in North Platte

Hayden Myers, black headgear, battles it out with Abigail Hankla in swords fighting at the Top Tier Open Taekwondo tournament on Saturday at the D&N Event Center in North Platte. About 50 competitors from North Platte, Kearney, Lexington and McCook participated in the event.

Top Tier’s Taekwondo Korean martial arts students honed their skills at a tournament on Saturday at the D&N Event Center in North Platte.

Brad Garrick, owner of Top Tier, and instructors Travis Baker and Dan Morash hosted the tournament that brought together about 50 competitors, including some from Kearney, Lexington and McCook.

The competition featured bouts at various ranks from white belts on up. The athletes competed in three categories sparring with swords, sparring and forms.

“We’ve been teaching Taekwondo here for about four years,” Garrick said. “We have our first tournament in the spring, which is kind of our big one. But we want to keep people busy competing, so we’re trying to do them every six months.”

The tournament is sorted by age, gender and rank and Garrick said some of the categories were mixed and matched to ensure competition for everyone on Saturday.

“There is some light contact,” Garrick said. “But the whole point of Taekwondo is all about control and not hurting somebody, but being able to protect yourself.”

Multiple judges work and score each match with the center judge being in charge. Two to four side judges help call points.

“If there is a point scored, it’s by unanimous agreement whether a point is awarded or not,” Baker said.

When it appears a point is scored, the center judge stops the match and each corner judge verifies whether they saw a point scored and by whom.

“In this style of Taekwondo for this tournament, there are scoring zones and most of the zones are protected,” Baker said. “We wear head gear, no face contact is allowed — for safety — in this tournament.”

Baker said the sides of the head and the forehead area are areas where competitors can score points.

“The front of the body and the flanks of the body are scoring zones as well,” Baker said. “No shots below the belt, no leg kicks.”

Although this is the smaller of the two tournaments hosted by Top Tier, Baker said the competition is no less important.

“The tournament actually gives everyone a chance to compete with what they spend all year long practicing and trying to better themselves at,” Baker said.

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