[Nameplate] Fair ~ 95°F  
Feels like: 101°F
Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Taekwondo helps East Prairie athlete

Monday, August 23, 2004

Sixteen-year-old Lydia Thomure demonstrates the power of a jump spinning back kick.
EAST PRAIRIE - "I would recommend taekwondo to others because it is a lot of fun," said Lydia Thomure. "It helps me with everything."

Thomure, the 16-year-old daughter of Jennifer and Billy Thomure of East Prairie, began learning taekwondo when she was nine years old. She took classes in Charleston, where she lived at the time. When the Thomure family moved, she began attending a martial arts center in Sikeston for taekwondo instruction.

Taekwondo is a modern martial art, with origins from Korea. It is characterized by fast, high and spinning kicks. According to the American Taekwondo Association, it has spread internationally to become one of the world's most successful and popular martial arts since its humble beginnings over 1,000 years ago.

In addition to kicks, taekwondo also teaches breaking power, such as splitting wood and bricks using bare hands or feet. Other techniques, such as punching, kicking, dodging, jumping, parrying and blocking are also learned in taekwondo classes.

The East Prairie High School junior said she began taking classes because taekwondo was something that she was interested in. "It just looked fun to me."

Martial arts turned out not only to be fun, but also good background experience. The techniques and skills she learns through taekwondo also help her in other sports. "It keeps me in shape," Thomure remarked. "It helps me with my balance, my pitching and all of my sports."

Thomure has participated in track, basketball and softball; however, she is starting to focus more on softball right now. "They are all starting to mix together and it is getting too hard to do all of the different sports," she said.

She hopes to obtain a softball scholarship, and attend the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Over the summer, Thomure was a member of the Southeast Tremors traveling softball team. The team went to state and progressed to nationals in Springfield, where they ranked ninth out of 42 teams.

"It was awesome - a good experience," Thomure said about the softball team and the competitions. "I was lucky that I got to go," she said.

In high school softball, Thomure has received quite a few awards, including a pitching award. She was distinguished for the most RBIs, highest on base percentage, most stolen bases, and the highest batting average, which was .475.

Thomure said she stays busy year round. In fact, she often misses taekwondo for softball practices or school sports. School sports must come first, according to Thomure. "If I miss practice or games, I can't play," she said. "Taekwondo is just something that I do for fun, when I can."

In 1999, Thomure qualified for the Junior Olympics through taekwondo. And in 2002, she earned a second degree black belt, which symbolizes maturity of the student in the art. A black belt also indicates being impenetrable for fear and darkness.

Thomure has met quite a few people through her interest in taekwondo. "I'm the only one from my community that does it," she said.

She has met people from all over the state, as well as traveled to places including Colorado and Orlando, Fla. "All of the states get together and we work on different things," she said. "It's like a big convention."

Taekwondo keeps Thomure busy and entertained. But she was quick to add that it's not all fun, there's hard work involved as well. "You have to be in shape and need a sharp mind," she said.

Self defense is another benefit of Taekwondo. Thomure said there are many techniques learned for each different situation someone may be in.

"I won't be scared when I go to college or am alone, because I'll know what to do," she said. "I don't have to worry as much about being attacked."