Elmhurst Taekwondo competes at national tournament

ELMHURST – When many people think of taekwondo they probably think of hand-to-hand combat and head-to-head sparring.

That's not all there is to the one of the world's most popular forms of martial arts. Taekwondo also incorporates other skills that don't involve sparring.

Elmhurst Taekwondo brought a group of 15 competitors to Colorado Springs for the 2013 U.S. Open Taekwondo Hanmadang, a competition that focuses on those other aspects of Taekwondo, and came back with 27 medals. Elmhurst won seven gold, 15 silver and five bronze medals.

The fifth annual tournament, which was originally held in the Chicago area before moving to Colorado Springs' World Arena in 2012, drew teams from all over the world.

"There are certain different aspects of martial arts competitions, but they're not necessarily focused on sparring," said Sean Laughlin, who volunteers for Elmhurst Taekwondo and whose son competed in the tournament. "Sparring is the only thing missing from Hanmadang."

There are both individual and team based events ranging from creative breaking to showing off individual forms with and without weapons. Some of the team-based events are well-chereographed demonstrations of various taekwondo skills.

The competition draws from a wide age range with competitors ranging from five to 55 years old, according to Laughlin.