Local martial artists medal at Texas State Championships
By PAMELA GRANT
Demonstrating their martial arts prowess, young martial artists Rodney Phillips (13) and Zachary Phillips (11) triumphed in the TNT/TKO Texas State Championship.
The tournament took place Nov 11 in Houston. This year was the tournament’s most competitive, bringing in hundreds of competitors from across the state.
FC Iron Dojo students from Copperas Cove, Zachary and Rodney Phillips, working together, managed an impressive 1st place finish in Team Kata earning themselves the coveted championship ring for their division.
They both received 2nd place in the Grand Self Defense competition, and they both received 4th place in the Individual Kata competition.
“This was no easy accomplishment,” remarked Ron Phillips, owner of both FC Iron Dojo in Copperas Cove and Zachary’s father and Rodney’s grandfather. “2023 was TKO’s largest turnout in over 25 years.”
Rodney Phillips said that he enjoyed competing and said that it was lots of fun. Rodney has practiced karate for three years and earned the rank of green black stripe. Most of his training has been as a student at FC Iron Dojo. He recently began training under Grandmaster Roosevelt Shephard, a new instructor with FC Iron Dojo, and is now learning taekwondo as well. Rodney said that his goal is to eventually earn his black belt while learning to defend himself and improve his life skills.
Zachary Phillips has also studied karate for three years and has earned the rank of junior green belt. He too is now learning taekwondo under Grandmaster Shephard. Zachary estimates that he’s earned more than 90 medals in his martial arts career so far and estimates that he’ll earn many more in 2024.
“It gets your excitement up,” said Zachary Phillips about competing. “You have to conquer your fears.”
He admitted that it can be intimidating sometimes going up against someone who is bigger than you, higher rank than you, or who has been studying longer than you, but it is really satisfying to conquer that fear and come out on top. Zachary said that winning Nov 11’s tournament “felt kinda great”.
Zachary Phillips said that he loves being a role model and helping out his fellow students.
“I’m there if they need me,” said Zachary Phillips. “It’s a family dojo…It’s really great.”
He said that his goals in training are to be able to improve his self-defense skills so that he can protect himself and others who might not be able to protect themselves.
“I think that they are doing outstanding,” said Ron Phillips about both boys. “I’m just so proud of them…I’ve really appreciated how well they’ve developed.”
He said that he’s seen big improvements in both grades and behavior in both since they started martial arts.