Giovanni Torres, a 7th trimester student and Palmer Taekwondo Club member, and Dr. Alicia Ruiz, a 2012 Palmer graduate and Palmer Taekwondo Club instructor, have qualified to compete at the USAT National Championships July 7 in Chicago, Ill., at the McCormick Center. In order to compete at the national level, each athlete is required to qualify in a state competition by securing a first, second or third place finish in their chosen division.
On May 4, Mr. Torres participated in the adult male light weight sparring division at the Wisconsin State Championships, facing three other competitors. Mr. Torres was victorious in his first match, positioning him to fight for either first or second place. He was defeated in the second match, taking silver and securing a spot as a World Class competitor at Nationals, but won’t be able to participate in the National Championships due to unforeseen circumstances.
Dr. Ruiz competed in the black belt women’s senior standard poomse division at the Wisconsin State Championships. Poomse consists of a set combination of various kicks, stances, blocks and strikes set into a specific pattern meant to simulate defending oneself against multiple attackers. For the competition, she chose to perform ShipJin. Dr. Ruiz secured gold, sending her to the National Championships.
Both Mr. Torres and Dr. Ruiz began training in April in order to compete in the Wisconsin State Championships. To prepare for the competition, Mr. Torres worked out two nights per week in regular club classes, and trained an additional two hours five to six nights a week. His extra training included performing kicking drills and pushing through grueling rounds of sparring practice with his trainer Mr. Hyunuk (Ryan) Kang (a pre-chiropractic student and 5th degree black belt from Korea). Dr. Ruiz’s preparation included one to two hours of poomse practice five to six days a week amidst co-instructing the taekwondo club three nights per week, all while practicing as a Doctor of Chiropractic in the Quad Cities six days a week.
Mr. Torres is a 22-year-old native of Puerto Rico. He came to the United States to attend Palmer College of Chiropractic’s Davenport Campus. Mr. Torres had previously studied Tangsoodo for three years while in Puerto Rico and had earned the rank of blue belt. He joined Palmer Taekwondo in February 2011 while in his 1st trimester at Palmer, and has risen through the ranks to the position of red belt. With five years of cumulative martial arts experience, he is poised to be the club’s first student to earn a 1st degree black belt.
Dr. Ruiz is a 30-year-old native of Montana. She and her boyfriend moved to Iowa to attend Palmer in the winter of 2008. She graduated in February 2012 and is practicing in the Quad-City area until her boyfriend completes the Palmer program. After his graduation, they plan to head back west to open a practice. Dr. Ruiz has been a taekwondo practitioner for 12 years, earning her first degree black belt in 2005 and her second degree in early 2008 before moving to Iowa. She plans to test for her third degree by the end of this year. Dr. Ruiz will be competing in the Black Belt Women’s Senior Poomse division at Nationals.
The Palmer Taekwondo Club was founded in November 2010 by Mr. Kyle Cardel and Dr. Alicia Ruiz with the support of Dr. Robert Rowell, an associate professor in Palmer’s Diagnosis and Radiology Department, the club advisor and a second degree taekwondo black belt. Both Mr. Cardel and Dr. Ruiz hold black belts in taekwondo and are the primary instructors for the club, which maintains an average of 20 members. Membership includes many children and other family members of Palmer students as well as one of the clinic faculty doctors and his two sons.
“Being able to share my passion and knowledge of the martial arts with Palmer students and their families has been more rewarding than I could’ve ever imagined when we began the club,” said Dr. Ruiz. “I love the enthusiasm they all bring to my life and to see the growth in confidence and courage that results as they begin to walk the path of a martial artist. This growth will be invaluable to these future doctors when confronted with the many challenges of practice.”