Local trio claim state titles in martial arts

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

May 25, 2008 - Winning state titles in any sport is special, and for the athletes at Sulphur Springs ATA Black Belt Academy they are one of a kind.

Josh Schwen, Cristina Perry and Chris Duran won state titles in Weapons and Forms in taekwondo, which is determined by the combined point totals for a full season of competition.

For Schwen, he accumulated enough points to compete in the Men's 17-through-29 year-old Weapons and Forms Division at the World Championships June 26-27 in Little Rock, Ark.

"I will be competing in both events, because it is the 10 best in each event," Schwen said. "In Weapons, I am in second right now, and in Forms I am in ninth place."

Schwen won his state title in Weapons, while Perry won her state titles in Xtreme Forms and Weapons and Duran won in Xtreme Forms.

Josh said during the competition, he was battling some of the best martial artists in the state and said the experience made him better.

"Everyone was very good that I competed against," he said. "It is pretty much who does the best on that day. You may go into a tournament and lose the first one and then come back at the next tournament and beat the guy that beat you."

For Perry and Duran, their state titles were different from the traditional versions of taekwondo.

Perry and Duran compete in a discipline known as Xtreme Martial Arts - where traditional forms and weapons meet with gymnastics, dance and choreography.

"It was very competitive. and what is great about the one that I did is that you make it up yourself," Perry said. "It is pretty much who is the most creative and has the highest skills in the competition. We face all different levels of competitors, which makes the competition more interesting."

For Duran, his state title in Xtreme forms was a competition which lasted the entire season.

"I have been in a race with a guy during the season, and I had to give up one of my titles to him because I was not able to make some of the events," he said. "He was at the final event, and if I had not gone to it I would not have won the title."

When Duran is not competing in martial arts, fans of the Wildcats football team can see him as a running back in the fall. He said combining the two events makes him a better athlete.

"Some of these sports it takes a lot of discipline and with the competitive season, I had a hard time balancing the two events last year," he said. "I am going to be way more motivated and disciplined to come back next year and compete for the state title and also a trip to the World Championships."

Note: Schwen, Perry and Duran wanted to thank all of the sponsors that helped them out with funds this season.

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