The Leijona Martial Arts Club of Finlandia University hosted the first annual North Country Tournament on June 30, 2019 at the Paavo Nurmi Center. Students from Finlandia, Michigan Tech’s Husky Tae Kwon Do, Marquette Soo Bahk Do and Strong Soo Bahk Do of Crandon, Wisconsin participated. Visiting masters Master Ron Strong and Master Carl Vonck provided demonstrations and judging support, as did Finlandia’s instructors, Assistant Professor of English Carolyn Dekker and security staffer Shawn Hammond.
Finlandia students and alumni had good success in the ring. Senior Liberal Studies Major Harold Noble finished third in both forms and sparring for advanced color belts, and Art and Design alumnus Zong Deng came out on top of this very challenging sparring division, with Mary Weso of Strong Soo Bahk Do taking second in a 6-4 final match. Nursing alumna Anna Johnson fought hard but fell to Ms. Weso 5-3 in the early stages of the bracket.
In the white belt division, History graduate Chris Jaehnig won the forms competition with senior Business major Kenneth Lockhart taking second. The order of finish was reversed in the sparring division, with Ken coming out on top. Ken is one of the newest students in the club but has been gaining ground fast: “I was more than shocked when he sent a jump spinning roundhouse at me. I could see that from Harold maybe, but I did not expect it from Ken,” said Chris.
Beyond competition, the event was an opportunity to strengthen relationships in the local and regional martial arts community. And all the entry fees went to a good cause: the funds raised will go to help support Finlandia students traveling to martial arts events in the coming year.