Martial arts school shines at world match Members of Pasadena's Kick Connection win five champion titles

August 02, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The hits just keep coming for Kick Connection.

fTC The Pasadena-based martial-arts school recently returned from the Third World Arnis Tournament in Los Angeles with five world champion titles and many other trophies and awards.

"I'm very proud of my students," said Carlos Patalinghug Jr., chief instructor at the school on Ritchie Highway. "These kids competed with the best from 26 countries from around the world."

Patalinghug won one of the school's five world champion honors. He captured first place in the single-stick men's forms competition.

Mattie Cymek, 21, of Brooklyn Park earned two gold medals in forms and women's sparring. Christina Zeller, 17, of Severna Park captured a world championship in women's sparring, and 12-year-old Matthew Connelly of Reisterstown won first place in forms.

The 11-member team also earned three second-place and 11 third-place finishes.

Arnis, also called Eskrima, is a Philippine martial art in which combatants use 30-inch wooden sticks to land as many blows as they can to each other's head, chest, arms and thighs in a one-minute round.

Participants also can compete in the forms division, which requires individuals to demonstrate prowess with their weapons and their bodies.

Patalinghug said his group, which won the national title in Chicago in April, should have returned with more gold medals.

"The scoring was very unfair," he said. "I felt that all of our first runner-ups and second runner-ups should have won world championships."

But Patalinghug conceded that the level of competition had improved since the previous world tournament in Manila, the Philippines, in 1994.

"It was very hard" this year, he said. "Each year, the world tournament is going to get harder as people see new techniques and copy them."

This year, the big winner was Britain, which took home at least 10 world championship trophies, Patalinghug said.

"Most schools practice for only a couple of months before the tournament," he said. "These guys [from Britain] have been training for the past two years. They're very dedicated and very serious."

Aaron Seligson, 17, of Annapolis spent seven hours a week running and hitting a punching bag to get ready for the tournament. The work paid off in a silver medal in forms and a bronze in sparring.

"I think I did very well," Aaron said. "The training kept me in shape."

Kick Connection is negotiating to play host to the next national tournament in 1997.

With the next world tournament being planned for 1998, Aaron said he may compete one more time.

"The nationals and the world tournament were the only tournaments I had ever competed in," he said. "I wasn't used to it. I think next time -- if I do it again -- I can do better."

Pub Date: 8/02/96

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