Last weekend, some students representing Bartlett ATA Martial Arts traveled to Little Rock, Ark., to represent the city in the ATA’s World Championships competition.
With over 1,300 competitors from as far away as South Africa vying for the coveted title of world champion, three Bartlett residents rose to the top and separated themselves from the rest of the competition. Marybeth Rosa, Chavela Johnson and Dawson Johnson are our city’s newest world champions.
Marybeth Rosa, a black belt student at Bartlett ATA Martial Arts, competed in the 18-to-29-year-old women’s first degree black belt competition. She has been training in taekwondo for less than three years and had already earned the title of Tennessee state champion and southeast U.S. district champion before she competed in this tournament.
She had one more major competition goal and that was to win the title of world champion. As the tournament neared she trained daily and was able to pull off an exciting victory in the combat weapons event.
This event is a stick sparring competition that pits competitors against each other using specially designed weapons to score points by striking legal body targets on their opponents. In the last seconds of a very close final match, she was able to score a decisive point that put her over the top and allowed her to win the competition.
Chavela Johnson, a fourth degree black belt certified instructor and employee at Bartlett ATA Martial Arts, competed in the women’s 40-to-49-year-old fourth and fifth degree black belt division. She went into this tournament as a Tennessee state champion, southeast U.S. district champion and as the reigning combat weapons world champion from the previous year.
Johnson had a lot to prove as she was one of the few elite competitors defending their titles at this event. She went into the event exhausted, after training in martial arts seminars for three days yet still had the perseverance and skill needed to retain her title. Her hard work ethic, incredible power and insatiable desire to win has earned her the nickname “The Beast” amongst her friends and fellow competitors.
Dawson Johnson, a 16-year-old third degree black belt assistant instructor at Bartlett ATA Martial Arts, competed in a very special event this year. He was selected to represent the USA on both the combat weapons and traditional sparring junior teams. This was the inaugural year for 15-to-17-year-old team sparring division and the young men and women that represented the USA were hand selected from the top sparring students in the country.
Dawson was the captain of the traditional sparring team and a very valuable member of the combat weapons sparring team. The traditional sparring event is a sparring competition where you score points with your hands and feet by striking legal body targets on your opponents body. In this sparring competition, Dawson racked up 11 points to the bring the USA a big win over the South American team.
Next, in combat weapons, he went on to anchor team USA’s very one sided victory over team South America by racking up an amazing 22 points in his 90 second match. This week he starts his training for his next major event. His goal is to go with the US team to Chile in September to represent our nation in the Songahm Taekwondo Pan Am Championships tournament that is hosted every year.