16-year-old Qualifies for U.S. National Taekwondo Team - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

16-year-old Qualifies for U.S. National Taekwondo Team

HERMISTON, Ore. - For most of us the world of martial arts is something reserved for movies or books, but for one Hermiston resident Taekwondo is very real and is sending him halfway across the world to compete at the highest level.

     For Matt Dunlap, perfection is mandatory. That's why he was out practicing this afternoon in the hot sun, after just getting back from San Diego this morning. It was in San Diego where Matt's accuracy won him a spot on the United States' Taekwondo Poomsae National Team. Matt says, "It's a lot bigger than winning anything at school, districts, anything." 

     Matt competes in what's called Poomsae. It's a form of Taekwondo that focuses on the artful movements of the sport, rather than sparring. And it's in this sport that Matt will represent the united states in just five weeks at the first ever World Poomsae Taekowndo championships in Seoul, South Korea. By the way, Matt will be the only representative for the 14-18 year old age group for the entire nation.

     Poomsae (pronounced POOM-say) itself is a very precise sport. If a competitor's hand or foot is turned at even the slightest of improper angles, it results in a tenth of a point deduction. Regulations like that can put a lot of pressure on a competitor, but for this 16-year-old, pressure can be the best motivator. "It's not unbearable but it takes its toll on you after awhile. After it's over there's a big joy for getting it over but it's also fun to be under pressure for me. i get a big kick out of it." No pun intended of course.

     For now though pressure is the last thing on Matt's mind. He'll take the next couple days to relax, refocus, and revel in his one of a kind victory. According to Matt being the best in his age group is something he won't forget for a very long time.