The taekwondo skills of Sebastian Debsia and Luke Hynson have taken them all over the country for competitions. Now, those skills will take them to Finland.
Team USA is gearing up for the International Taekwon-Do Federation world championship, set for September 4-10.
Both Debsia and Hynson will compete for Team USA in sparring and patterns. Debsia will also participate in board-breaking event, and Hynson will enter the specialty kicks competition.
“It’s such an honor to represent our country,” said Grand Master Carlos Patalinghug Jr., an instructor at Kick Connection in Millersville, where Debsia and Hynson train. “The East Coast and the Midwest are all coming together for this world tournament.”
A three-time national champion, Debsia began practicing martial arts 14 years ago when he was 6 years old.
“I was always a crazy kid, jumping off the wall, and wanted to be a superhero,” he said, naming Spider-Man as his favorite character.
A two-time national champion, Hynson started five years ago, when he was 8.
“I like the flying 360 kick and the hook kick,” he said.
Both fighters have grown considerably, according to Patalinghug.
“When he was 8 or 9 years old, Sebastian wanted to quit because he was afraid of sparring,” Patalinghug said. “A lot of students fear sparring, and his disposition is very kind and not very aggressive. But he’s become our No. 1 fighter in our school. It shows a lot that he did not give up and he trusts his parents and trusts his coaches.”
As Patalinghug explained, taekwondo is about more than punching and kicking.
“The parents and students, everyone feels comfortable, and with that comes comradery and fellowship,” Patalinghug said. “We want to create memories of good times and traveling the world. If you have good character and good morals, people will remember you.”
Kick Connection gave a special thanks to Jake Bowersox from Warrior Martial Arts and Noel Smith from Noel Smith Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, both in Glen Burnie, for setting up sparring sessions with their fighters and the Kick Connection athletes to prepare them for Finland.
The fighters have sponsorship support from 2 Bold Chefs, Fulton Bank and Delegate Nic Kipke, and they welcome other corporate sponsors. They set up a GoFundMe page for anyone who wants to help.
Hynson’s father, Kevin, also provides instruction at Kick Connection and sees the benefits taekwondo has for all ages.
“To have fun competing and with master Carlos, honing in on the mental aspect and the moral aspect of it,” he said. “We take an oath that says we are going to build a better world. We are building connections in England, in Finland, all over. We are all coming together for a common cause.”