Demonstrating both discipline and skill, Tiger and Demo team members from Yang Masters United Taekwondo Center in Paola performed Saturday afternoon during the Harlem Globetrotters’ pre-game and half-time exhibitions at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Paola members were joined by their counterparts from three other schools in Spring Hill, Olathe and Kansas City, Mo., and were led by Martial Arts Taekwondo Hall of Famer Grand Master Pok Sun Yang (Olathe and Spring Hill), instructor Robert Johnson (Paola) and instructor Thomas Filbeck (Kansas City, Mo.).
Johnson said the Demo and Tiger teams were a mixture of members from each of the four schools, which gives the teams more diversity and a greater concentration of skill levels.
“Anytime we have an opportunity to perform, it’s great, especially at an event as large as this,” he said.
Participants from Paola included: Gaven Johnson, red belt, Demo Team; Hudson Schack, school black belt, Demo; Levi Siders, purple belt, Demo; Christopher Lohaus-Fast, red and black belt, Demo; and David Gonzalez, school black belt, Demo and Tiger teams.
Despite pre-performance jitters, the teams exceeded their own expectations and provided an entertaining and skillful demonstration of martial art techniques, laced with a few unexpected dance moves.
“Everyone was very excited about the event, and it is a good thing,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he hopes the students of Yang Masters UTC will continue to have a great time, and that they will realize they can accomplish anything they want if they only make the effort.
“Taekwondo is an amazing sport that will challenge each person that is willing to walk through the door of our school and give 100 percent of themselves,” he said.
“Taekwondo teaches confidence, self-control, discipline, respect, perseverance, humility and indomitable spirit.
“An individual will grow, make new friends and become physically and emotionally stronger,” he continued. “It changed my life.”
And, as a high-level entertainment buffer for one of the most well-known basketball exhibitionist teams in the world, the students of Yang Masters UTC proved they are talented enough to captivate an audience of more than 1,000 people with ease.
Between the pre-game and half-time exhibitions, members of the Harlem Globetrotters put on their own show, alternating zany antics with spellbinding demonstrations of skill as they faced off against the World All Stars.
No. 26, Hi-Lite Bruton, said his time with the Harlem Globetrotters has been about more than showing off his skills as an entertainer and basketball player.
“I have enjoyed every day I have been blessed with as a Harlem Globetrotter,” he said.
“The reason why is because I have seen the world and have made friends in so many countries and cities during my 13 years as a player with the Globetrotters.
“Just imagine all the people that approach me with a Globetrotter story that they want to share,” he said. “In reality, I am helping to create new memories that are going to last for 10,000 lifetimes, if it was possible.”
Bruton said as silly as it may sound, every night with the Globetrotters is memorable, and every profession, whether in basketball or even in Taekwondo, requires dedication, motivation and healthy living.
“My advice for anybody wanting to be a Globetrotter or any other profession is to practice wholeheartedly, live healthy and stay out of trouble,” he said.
“If you are a beginner, my advice is to seek help from positive people who are knowledgeable in your field of interest,” Bruton added.
© 2014 Osawatomie Graphic.