Another P.B. Black Belt Academy World Champion!
Mike Malone of Poplar Bluff became American Taekwondo Association World Champion, Weapons Division, in competition at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas late last month.
Little Rock is world headquarters for the ATA, and competition was held in a broad range of categories for 2008 honors.
Malone’s victory was especially sweet since he had placed second in the same category in the world championships last year.
This time, within the span of about two minutes, Malone demonstrated mastery in the execution of a form utilizing a 22-inch stick called the Bahng Mahng Ee. “I’d been learning the form for two years, and I’d been working on it, along with other things, since then,” says Malone, a 1st-Degree black belt.
Malone has studied at Poplar Bluff’s Black Belt Academy for five years, having started a week before his 50th birthday. When asked what prompted him to take up the discipline, Malone says simply, “It was Tony Page”.
Tony Page, founder of the Academy, has made his school a training ground for contenders at the uppermost level of taekwondo competition in the United States. Mike Malone remembers how he himself took the plunge: “[Tony Page] had just won his own world championship. He was all pumped up because his students had done so well, and he had just gotten his 4th-Degree black belt.
“He said, ‘You know, you ought to come out and try this,’ and so I thought I would.”
Was there any apprehension going in? “I didn’t really have confidence in the thought that I could physically do what I saw some of the other people doing. I was fit, but I was also 50 years old,” says Malone. “I mean, you think about this stuff…
“But then I realized that if I had somebody to teach me how to do certain things, I might actually be able to do more than I thought.”
Next up for Malone: “I’m not going to compete next year, because I’m going to concentrate on becoming a 2nd-Degree black belt. That all takes time. And tournaments take time…and gas!”
Outside of work at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Poplar Bluff, Malone’s world revolves around family, community theater, the martial arts, and Poplar Bluff’s Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross, where he has served as verger for the past seven years.