Tag Archives: martial arts

Flushing middle schooler is a taekwondo star


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Eagles Tae Kwon Do

Uni Ha is an eighth-grader at I.S. 25 in Flushing who travels around the world living her dream, competing in taekwondo competitions.

Ha, 13, has many achievements in the martial arts discipline of taekwondo and is currently ranked a second dan black belt. Last summer she became the youngest athlete to make it onto the USA National Team in taekwondo.

“It is an honor to just place in the nationals,” Ha said. “To be on the National Team and to be the youngest member is an honor.”

After earning a position on the USA National Team, Ha entered the Costa Rica Open Championship, an international competition, in August. At the event, she came away with a gold medal.

In September, Ha flew to Mexico for a competition and brought home another medal. Then in November, she traveled to Canada for the Toronto Open where she represented the USA and won the bronze medal.

The largest international competition, the U.S. Open Championship, was held in January. Ha was at that event and medaled yet again. In February, Ha also medaled at the Canada Open. During the national qualifier on March 8, Ha took home the gold in her division and defeated a 17-year-old fighter to win the gold medal in that division as well. Ha returned from the Mexico Open in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on March 15 with another gold medal around her neck.

“The Mexico Open is a really great atmosphere and very professional,” Ha said. “It was my second time there and I’ve learned so much through it. After finishing with a silver my first time, I wanted to do better this time.”

“This one was really hard for me,” she said. “It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. It’s a great experience.”

Besides being an adept taekwondo athlete, Ha is a great student, earning a 95 percent average on her last report card. She has an acceptance letter from St. Francis Preparatory high school and is waiting to hear from Townsend Harris High School. She is also heavily involved in community service by teaching taekwondo in local public schools, churches and community centers.

Ha’s coach at Eagle’s Tae Kwon Do in Flushing, Andrew Park, said, “She has done a tremendous job. She works real hard and is a great kid.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Breathing fire in the ring


| smosco@queenscourier.com

doc4e933ea94b8fa766470670

There is a brawling beast roaming the streets of Queens, fighting for her right to jump, punch and kick.

This past May, The Queens Courier profiled a rising star on the Taekwondo scene – nine-year-old Jayda Skye, whose fury in the ring earned her the nickname “Baby Dragon.” The Taekwondo child prodigy boasts a 41-1 record, a Black Belt, 300 videos on YouTube and, along with her father Jose, is currently creating the Jayda Skye Rising Stars Foundation, which aims to aide aspiring fighters looking to hit the mat.

“There are a lot of kids less fortunate than Jayda who might need help financially or physically,” said her father, Jose Irizarry. “We want to help kids who love martial arts, but maybe don’t have the finances for equipment or training.”

But it’s not easy creating a foundation out of thin air, and Irizarry needs help from his community before he can help pint-sized powerhouses like his daughter. He is asking anyone who might have knowledge about starting a foundation to contact him at 718-618-0664 or through his email, jaydaskye@yahoo.com. Irizarry can also be contacted through his daughters Facebook and Twitter pages.

“Eventually I want to get her a sponsor,” he said. “This kid is second to none. The work I have to put in to help her is effortless because she is just so talented. We are looking for sponsors who believe in making dreams come true for these gifted kids in the martial arts world. We believe her fighting skills are unique and the exposure created through a foundation will help her reach that status of a young champion.”

Jayda, a fourth-grader at P.S. 81 in Ridgewood, started Taekwondo at five-years-old. Now, four years later, she’s fighting independently under Team Jayda and headed to the New York Open in Mineola, Long Island on October 22; then it’s off to the Champions Open at Queens College on November 5. Her latest victory was first place in the 2011 Gold Cup at Queens College on October 8.

Beyond that, Jayda hopes to compete in the taekwondo’s U.S. Open and various international tournaments. But for now she will continue to train hard for local tournaments and prepare for state and national qualifiers in order to participate in 2011 Junior Olympics.