Local taekwondo student a World Champion

Lincoln's Usok Choe gets gold in form and sparring
By: Andrew Hazard Gold Country Media Correspondent
-A +A
Usok Choe took up sparring to stay in shape. He never imagined he would become a world champion. Choe, 43, a student at Jaime’s Martial Arts in Rocklin, won the American Taekwondo Association World Championships held in Little Rock, Ark., June 20-26. Choe said he was speechless after winning the title. “I have been trying this for a while now and this was my third attempt to obtain the goal set aside and work towards,” he said. “Words can’t describe, it’s pretty exciting.” Choe won his first gold medal of the week for performing forms, and won another one in second and third degree black belt sparring in the 40 to 49 age group division. Choe, a Lincoln resident and chief designer of Usok Choe Designs, 1403 Wyndham Lane, Lincoln, studies under the direction of Fernando Jaime. Choe and Jaime have known each other for four years. Jaime is the owner and head instructor at Jaime’s Martial Arts in Rocklin. He said he is extremely proud of all of Choe’s accomplishments. “He’s a very hardworking individual. He has the big heart of a lion, he doesn’t give up, he’s been through a lot of defeats and challenges,” Jaime said. Jaime said Choe continued to work toward his goals; he characterized Choe’s accomplishment as amazing. Choe practiced sparring for about seven years while living in Korea. He immigrated to the United States in 1980 and gave up sparring until 2007. It was then he decided he wanted to get fit and returned to the sport. Getting into the world championships is an accomplishment unto its own. Choe had to qualify in order to participate by gaining a certain amount of points throughout the year. He had to finish the year in the top 10 of the world rankings in order to go to the tournament. “It’s not like you can go and just compete coming out of nowhere,” Choe said. He finished the year ranked second in the forms world rankings and first in the sparring. Choe said the tournament was a gathering of fellow practitioners of taekwondo. It was the first time he was able to take his wife with him, and said it felt like a homecoming for him. “When I was walking through the venue I would get stopped about every 10 steps because I would see someone that I know,” Choe said. “To walk the venue that wasn’t even that big I got stopped five, six, seven times.” People from all age groups participated, including a group for people with disabilities. Choe said people came from 20 different countries outside the United States. Choe said he owes much of his success to Jaime. Jaime’s Martial Arts is the only school he has gone to. He said to study under someone as great as Jaime is an honor. “For him to be my head instructor to critique and see if what I am doing is proper and correct is more than a privilege,” Choe said. “He’s a master, it’s not like he’s fourth or fifth, there’s not much more that you can ask for.” Jaime said Choe’s accomplishments might give the community the motivation to begin martial arts. “Mr. Choe is an inspiration for a lot of people who want to achieve their goals, whether that be go to school, or work harder in something that they may not believe in themselves. I think it’s great,” Jaime said. Jaime said his business offers classes for as young as three-year-olds and above, they also offer classes for juniors from ages seven to 12, as well as classes for 14-years-old and up. Jaime said his school’s goal is to help raise responsible young adults and not championships after championships. However, he said if his student’s goal is to become a gold medalist he and his trained staff assist the student in achieving that objective. “Our school is not about developing world champions; it is about the ethical champion,” Jaime said. “We focus on building self-esteem, discipline.” he said. Jaime went on to say that it is Choe who deserves all of the credit, not him or his business. “Mr. Choe was able to accomplish his gold medal partially from my instruction but he had a goal, a desire and sought the opportunity,” he said. “He worked extremely, extremely hard. I believe it takes that type of person that wants to work that hard and is not willing to give up.” Choe said he still cannot believe he has turned a hobby of his into something special. “I’m a pretty competitive person and as they say, ‘the rest is history’,” Choe said. “It was all about perseverance, training and achieving the goals that you wanted.” Jaime’s Martial Arts is located in Blue Oaks Marketplace, 6835 Lonetree Blvd., Suite 101, Rocklin. Jaime is a member of American Taekwondo Association founded by Grand Master H.U. Lee. The ATA also affiliates with the World Traditional Taekwondo Union and Songahm Taekwondo Federation. They offer instruction to over 300,000 students in 16 different countries. ATA Taekwondo requires students follow a code of etiquette, while developing fitness, self-defense, and self-confidence. Jaime’s Martial Arts can be reached by telephone: (916) 771-5500, or go online: E-mail Placer Herald Sports at