Team Tiger stalks Junior Championships

Thursday, June 29, 2006


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Bryan Haynes⁄The Gazette
Largo’s Nasheed Smith, 5, (left) throws a side-kick at teammate Kori Rawlings, 7, of Mitchellville (right) as Master Seung Min Lee of Silver Spring (center) watches during their Tae Kwon Do practice at Cheryl DuVal’s home in Mitchellville.





After winning 10 medals at the qualifying tournament in Minneapolis, five Tae Kwon Do competitors from Mitchellville are raising money and making final preparations to compete at the junior national championships in Atlanta, Ga. next week.

Ranging in age from five to 13, the five formed their team, which they name Team Tiger, in April under the tutelage of Master Seung-Min Lee.

The five who make up Team Tiger are Denjuan Dukes, Nasheed Smith, Craig Nipper-Duval, Ryan Rawlings and Kori Rawlings with Smith the youngest and his brother Dukes the oldest.

Lee, a two-time World Champion, was a member of the Korean National team for eight years and bases the training for Team Tiger around the same techniques that she learned then.

The team practices every day for two hours.

Father Paul Smith said the concentration that Lee brings out of the children is ‘‘remarkable” and her emphasis on the fine details of a simple kick is incomparable.

‘‘Those seven months have been like 14 months with Master Lee,” Smith said. ‘‘The main change that I have seen is the kids have more focus in what they’re doing.”

The change in the children has not only been on the mat but in the school as well.

Mother Crystal Dukes said because of the training and discipline Ta Kwon Do teaches, her son Denjuan no longer has behavioral problems at school and is a lot calmer.

‘‘I am more disciplined because of Tae Kwon Do,” Denjuan said.

Cherly Duval said she also has seen a drastic change in her son Craig, who prior to Tae Kwon Do was ‘‘bouncing off the walls” but since has improved in grades and behavior.

Crystal Dukes said that Lee has placed a lot of confidence in the boys and her extra efforts are greatly appreciated.

Training has not only had an impact on the children but the parents as well.

Smith said he now uses the Tae Kwon Do method to discipline his children.

‘‘It’s more psychological than physical,” Smith said. ‘‘There is no physical contact.”

Smith said he has his children get in a push up position if they do something he is not pleased about, based upon the severity of their action he then intensifies the push up position.

During Lee’s training she has a big stick [paddle] that she shows if the children are not focused and are playing too much.

‘‘No pain no gain,” Lee said.

Smith says the children know that the stick is not for play and that they need to refocus on the task at hand. They might get popped one time but after that they are ready.

‘‘After they get popped they have to say thank you Ma’am,” Smith said.

This type of training has resulted in the team heading to Atlanta for the Junior Championships.

Shelley Rawlings said the group has held car washes, skate parties and done door to door donations to help offset their goal of $2,500 for the trip.

To date the group has raised roughly $1,000.

‘‘The kids have learned to never give up and work hard for something you want,” DuVal said.

For more information call 301-335-4559.

Email Marcus Ngbea at mngbea@gazette.net.