TMA still developing athletes, grooming leaders

Several members of the TMA school performed well at the national tournament in Chicago last month. (Staff Photo: Gabriel Stovall)

Several members of the TMA school performed well at the national tournament in Chicago last month. (Staff Photo: Gabriel Stovall)

Sinclair Cannady isn’t your typical high school aged athlete.

While others are getting primed for a fall smorgasbord of high school sports such as football, softball, volleyball and cross country, Cannady is busy excelling in something else.

Tae Kwon Do.

The 15-year-old most recently attended Mundy’s Mill High School and said he’s tried all of the other sports. But none of them give him what Tae Kwon Do does.

“I guess it’s just something I’m really good at,” Cannady said. “I’ve done all the other ones. I’ve tried football, baseball and everything else, but this is just what I like.”

After winning gold in his last two national tournaments, Cannady came up with the silver medal in the U.S. National Championships and Junior Olympics held in July in Chicago. Perhaps in times past he would’ve been satisfied with a silver, even though he has proven he could do better. But that’s before he took the time to take the sport to heart.

“At first I didn’t really take it seriously,” he said. “We drove by the [Tiger Martial Arts] school one day, and I said, ‘Let’s see if it’s open. I want to try that.’ When I first got in, I thought I was in good shape from playing other sports. It only took about 20 minutes to prove that I was wrong.”

Cannady was just one of a handful of young martial artists who fared well at the competition. David Collins, 13, and a resident of Fayetteville made it to the quarterfinals, which was good enough to net him an invitation to compete in the U.S. Open tournament in Las Vegas.

Collins said he got interested in martial arts by what he saw on television.

“I’ve watched a lot of Bruce Lee movies as I’ve been growing up,” Collins said. “And I started young, like at age three I think. But I didn’t really know what I was doing until later. I want to grow in this sport to be as good as I possibly can be.”

He’s already done well enough to be in line for certification as a coach in 2014. The martial arts school, led by head coach Gerald Boveland, already has a history of developing young athletes in the program.

Long-time student Matthew Dixon has ascended from just being a young competitor to, now, assistant head coach status.

The school has opened its doors for years in order to give students in the Southern Crescent area of Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties, an opportunity to learn the sport and the discipline that goes along with it.