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Glenn Pursley, Published June 28 2012

Five to attend national taekwondo tournament

Fargo - Mihayla Kapaun will be attending the Amateur Athletics Union Taekwondo National Championships for the second year in a row now. But this time, she brought some friends.

Training under Master Roy Gilbertson, Kapaun along with Bryce Tveter, Brittney Berthiaume, Brian Gustufson and Troy McBroom will be attending the national tournament held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Monday.

Kapaun started taking taekwondo for the sole reason of wanting to defend herself. Little did she know she would be competing in no time.

“When I first joined I didn’t think of competing,” Kapaun said. “But my teacher said I could try a sports class and that gave me the idea to compete.”

Her teacher, Master Gilbertson of Northwest Martial Arts in Fargo, has quite a reputation under his black belt.

Master Gilbertson is a seventh-degree black belt and has been teaching taekwondo for 33 years and has earned 14 national medals, four being gold.

Berthiaume attended the national championships two years ago back in 2010. She moved to Fargo to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead and was a fan of martial arts before taking a taekwondo class offered at school.

“I had always been interested in martial arts before this,” Berthiaume said. “I was in karate for six years and (taekwondo) was offered at MSUM, so that’s how I got involved.”

Berthiaume and Tveter enjoy the physical benefits taekwondo provides, but they also share some more sentimental ones.

“I like the involvement of it,” Tveter said. “The people, the workout, the training … pretty much everything about it.”

Berthiaume added: “I like the people, the atmosphere and the skills that taekwondo brings, especially for a female to defend herself.”

Tveter, a six-year veteran of the sport and also a coach for Northwest Martial Arts, will compete in the pattern and sparring categories along with Kapaun. Berthiaume will compete in the just sparring.

Pattern competition is when a competitor is judged on form of motions. Sparring is live combat using a point system.

Northwest Martial Arts of Fargo has won over 100 national medals, which is more than all other North Dakota gyms combined. It hopes to bring back five more after next week.

“It’s an accomplishment,” Gilbertson said. “These kids put a lot of extra work in. They aren’t just your normal students. They come every day to practice. We train on the weekends. They put in a lot of time.”

Forum reporter Glenn Pursley can be reached at (701) 241-5549