For a kid his age, eight-year old Sam Chapman of Stonington has a lot of competitions under his belt – his Taekwondo belt, that is. Sam, son of Chris and Khristy Chapman, has competed several times in tournaments across the country, traveling as far away as Nevada. He is a martial arts student at Campbell’s ATA Black Belt Academy in Bucksport, training under the instruction of 4th Degree Black Belt and State Champion John Murray and 3rd Degree Black Belt, World Champion and school owner Ron Campbell. The ATA is the American Taekwondo Association, based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Sam is enrolled in the Karate for Kids program at Campbell’s ATA. As stated on the ATA Headquarters website, www.ataonline.com, Karate for Kids is a martial arts program based on traditional Taekwondo. Sam is enrolled as a Leadership student which allows him to compete for State Championships, among other benefits. His many months of hard work at the academy, at home and in tournaments have paid off, earning him the Triple Crown 2011-2012 ATA Maine State Champion title for Color Belts, 8-years old and under. He was top in the state in Traditional Forms, Traditional Weapons and Traditional Point Sparring, claiming the State Championship for all three divisions. He competed against other martial artists in tournaments in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia and Nevada. Points are earned for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placement at sanctioned Songahm Taekwondo tournaments and accrue toward State Championships in competitors’ home state.
Sam has begun a new year of competing in tournaments. The 2012 Songahm Taekwondo World Championships took place in Little Rock, Arkansas the week of June 18-24. It draws the best of the best for World titles and at the same time kicks off the new tournament year which goes from June of one year to April 30 of the next. Students can only compete for a World Championship title once they have become Black Belts. Sam is currently a Green Belt and was eligible to earn points toward possible 2012-2013 State Championships.
While the young martial artist was not eligible to compete for a World Championship title as a Green Belt, the competition was at the highest level due to the size of the event and the larger number of competitors. According to Sam’s father, it was Sam’s most difficult tournament so far because of the high level of competition. It is the only Class “AAA” tournament during the year and was hosted by ATA Grand Master In Ho Lee.
The increased difficulty in competition at Little Rock didn’t stop Sam from doing well. Chris said of his son “He has that focus and there’s nobody else in that room with him.” Sam won 1st place in Traditional Weapons, 1st place in Combat Weapons – a new division for him, 2nd in Sparring and 3rd in Forms.
For comparison, a Regional tournament, such as hosted by a Maine school, would be a Class “B” Tournament, offering at most 5 points per 1st place win. A Class “AAA” Tournament offers up to 15 points per 1st place win, depending on the number of competitors in a ring. A higher number of points is awarded because of the higher level of competition.
In July Sam competed in New Hampshire, a Class “B” tournament, winning 1st place in all four divisions that he competed in: Forms, Sparring, Weapons and Combat Weapons.
Campbell’s ATA Black Belt Academy has two locations, one at 74 Main Street, Bucksport (469-6400) and one at 33 School Street (off Broadway), Bangor (944-6704). Both schools are owned by Ron and Brenda Campbell. For more information, go to www.campbellsata.com.