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Hancock

She’s competing on a world stage

Hancock: 12-year-old tae kwon do student traveling to Dominican Republic for World Congress of Martial Arts competition

  • Grace Ramsden of Hancock practice a tae kwon do routine in Antrim on Thursday. She will be competing later this month in a world championship event in the Dominican Republic
  • Grace Ramsden of Hancock practice a tae kwon do routine in Antrim on Thursday. She will be competing later this month in a world championship event in the Dominican Republic
  • Grace Ramsden of Hancock practice a tae kwon do routine in Antrim on Thursday. She will be competing later this month in a world championship event in the Dominican Republic
  • Grace Ramsden of Hancock practice a tae kwon do routine in Antrim on Thursday. She will be competing later this month in a world championship event in the Dominican Republic
  • Grace Ramsden of Hancock practice a tae kwon do routine in Antrim on Thursday. She will be competing later this month in a world championship event in the Dominican Republic
  • Grace Ramsden of Hancock practice a tae kwon do routine in Antrim on Thursday. She will be competing later this month in a world championship event in the Dominican Republic

Grace Ramsden is only 12 years old, but she’ll be competing for the first time in a world championship when she travels with her family to the Dominican Republic this week.

Grace, a sixth-grader at Great Brook School, will be competing in tae kwon do at the World Congress of Martial Arts championships. She qualified in both the sparring and forms events after doing well at the Vermont Classic regional qualifier in Springfield, Vt., earlier this year. Since then she’s been training once a month with the Team USA coach, Huzon Alexander, at his dojo in Londonderry, Vt. She’s also continued her regular sessions with Elizabeth Kenny, the coach who got Grace started with lessons through the Antrim Recreation Department.

“I started in Antrim when I was in fourth grade,” Grace said. “I’m the only one still doing it. I practice three times a week, twice in Jaffrey at [Kenny’s] dojo and once in Antrim.”

Grace, who has a first-degree green belt, competes in the 11-12 intermediate division. In competitions, she goes up against other girls, she said, but she occasionally spars with boys in practices. She also sometimes hones her skills by working with fellow students who have black belts.

When sparring, competitors wearing gloves and headgear attempt to score points by throwing kicks and punches to touch various parts of their opponent’s body. Alexander, a former kickboxing champion who was also internationally ranked as a tae kwon do competitor, said Grace and the others on his team have done a good job adjusting to the sparring rules that will be in place at the championships.

“One rule change is that no head touching is allowed at the lower than black-belt level,” he said. “I’ve worked with all of them on attacking the body. It’s a martial arts game of tag. They have to show control, by throwing a punch and pulling it just before hitting the target.”

As for the forms event, Alexander likens it to a figure skating competition.

“It’s similar to shadow boxing, but there’s no one else there. You’re out there alone performing, and it’s all how good you make it look,” he said. “They critique you for stance, power, focus, speed and balance.”

Grace’s mother, Angie Ramsden, said practicing tae kwon do with Kenny in Antrim and Jaffrey has benefited Grace in several ways.

“She’s learning how she has to work hard,” Angie said. “This is not something that’s easy. She has to be fit. She also gets to be part of a team; that offers a chance to bond with kids from other schools. She’s stepping outside her comfort zone.”

Kenny, who owns Kenny’s Tae Kwon Do in Jaffrey, said her dojo focuses on classic martial arts principles of discipline, respect and balance of mind, body and spirit.

“I’ve been training Grace for the last three years and have watched her grow from a skinny shy little girl to the Amazon warrior she is now,” Kenny said in an email. “Grace is hard working and always has a smile on her face. She loves the art and is a model student who is always respectful and is dedicated to becoming a black belt.”

Angie Ramsden and her husband, Russ, will be traveling with Grace to the world competition, which will be held at the Hotel Rio Bambu resort in the Dominican Republic. Angie said the event should help Grace as she moves on to higher levels of the sport.

“She’s determined to get her black belt. It’s definitely her long-term goal.,” Angie said. “This will be great experience for her.”

Grace is also looking forward to the trip.

“I’m excited, and kind of nervous,” she said. “I think it will be fun.”

Alexander said Grace should expect to do well at the championships.

“There should be nerves, getting up on that world stage,” he said. “As long as she stays calm and sticks to her plan, Grace will do just fine. She’s really stepped up her game.”

Congratulations, Grace! Tae Kwon Do will help you in everything you do in life and all sports. My kids were part of RH TKD in Keene for 4 years and we were all part of the larger family with Ms. Kenney and Mr. Alexander and it was a wonderful experience traveling to tournaments all together. Best of luck to you and I will be looking for updates! :-) GO USA!

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