Just for kicks

To most, earning a black belt or competing in a national championship is a mere dream. To sophomore Eliana Lu, a six-time gold medalist and a second year black belt, it has become her reality.

At the age of five, Lu was dressed in sparring gear practicing for two hours daily at her dojo, CK Taekwondo.

“This sport is something I can always turn to. The dojo is like my second home,” Lu said. “I’m at practice a lot because this sport takes time. If I were to give advice to someone starting this sport, it would be to give yourself time and you will get better.”

Lu enjoys taekwondo because her brother and father are involved as well. When she feels like giving up, her family is there to encourage her to work harder and to give it her all.  

“Taekwondo holds a special place in my heart because my brother and I support each other during our tournaments. He is always there for me cheering me on and it is nice to have a good support system. We have a strong bond, and we just understand each other,” Lu said.

Lu has competed in several tournaments such as the California Open International Championship, which took place in 2017 and the Taekwondo Festival Championship in 2017. At both tournaments, Lu received gold medals for the categories of form and sparring.

“I am used to competitions now, and the adrenaline makes me perform better. A goal of mine was to see how many gold medals I could get in a row. I call it my gold streak, and so far I’ve gotten six [gold medals] in a row,” Lu said.

During a match, there are four referees in each corner. A kick to the opponent’s body gets one point and a kick to the opponent’s head can gets two to three points. Whoever gets the most points in the end of the two-minute match wins. Lu’s highest scoring match was in her first Taekwondo Festival Championship in 2015 where she accumulated 15 points through different head and body kicks to her opponent.

“Taekwondo is definitely my favorite sport because it takes a lot of self control. I’ve learned that it is not how strong you hit but the angle you attack at. If you attack from a certain angle, you can have a powerful hit to your opponent while avoiding injuries to yourself,” Lu said.

However, Lu has faced difficulties with managing her academics and recovering from a broken leg injury. With encouragement from her peers, Lu was able to overcome her struggles and return to her usual routine.

“Keeping up with school is a difficulty I face because some of my competitions are on the same day as school,” said Lu. “Although it is hard to manage, dealing with these problems help me become stronger because I learned to have a more positive mindset when I have to relearn materials in school and taekwondo.”

In order to focus on school, Lu is taking a break from her tournaments, but will continue to train at her dojo.

“Taekwondo has taught me to be [physically and mentally strong] and to never give up,” Lu said. “I may not look mean or tough, but I am a second-year black belt, and I am proud of where I am today.”

By Lauren Fue, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Eliana Lu