It’s been nearly a decade, but Jody Horn can again call himself a current world champion.
Horn, who is a fifth-degree black belt and chief instructor at Paragon Martial Arts, was crowned world champion for the third time – the first since 2000 – at the American Taekwondo Association’s world championships held last month in Little Rock, Ark. Horn earned a world championship in sparring, one of four disciplines open for competition.
"The key to success, probably most importantly, is experience," said Horn, who also placed third in forms. "Just because when you’re new to it, you’re so nervous. The reason you don’t compete well is because your nerves take over."
Nerves certainly aren’t the explanation for the time between Horn’s world championships, the first of which he won in 1999. Although he placed in the top-10 nearly every year since 2000, he said he concentrated more and trained harder for the annual tournament this time around and was rewarded.
"It felt real good," he said.
The world championships mark the end and beginning of the calendar year for taekwondo. Nearly a weeklong, the finals are held on a Thursday and Friday, then Saturday is a tournament that begins the ranking process anew for next year’s world championships.
The American Taekwondo Association is the largest in the nation and one of the largest organizations in the world.
Joining Horn in Little Rock, where the ATA is headquartered, were students/instructors Alison Clarke, 14, and Emma Adams, 17.
Clarke finished eighth in sparring, forms and XMA – extreme martial arts, which incorporates gymnastics and acrobatics. After the finals, she scored second in sparring for the new season.
Adams didn’t make the top 10 in the world championships, but rebounded in the subsequent tournament to move into second in forms.
Paragon, located in the Safeway plaza, is a "medium-sized school" with 115 students, Horn said. Horn said his school focuses on programs for kids, but has many classes for adults as well.