Black-belt instructor Camille Pruckmuller (left) with her happy contingent of Se Jong Taekwondo Hawke's Bay Inc members who returned with medals from the Gold Coast. Photos / Supplied
Jake Mawson hopes to take taekwondo to the elite international stage.
TAEKWONDO
Anendra Singh

Jake Mawson is someone who relishes and thrives in a television-free ecosystem, devoid of fast-food chains, for the best part of his youthful existence.

Mawson is a youngster who religiously latches on to down-to-earth network of nutrient cycles and energy flows that enrich his quality of life in Hawke's Bay.

"It doesn't really [bother me] that much," says the 13-year-old taekwondo exponent of TV, after returning from Australia with a gold medal and a bronze early this month. "I don't really watch it that much."

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The Taikura Rudolf Steiner School pupil was a member of a contingent of Se Jong Taekwondo Hawke's Bay Inc members dojang (formerly Bay City Taekwondo, relocated along Market St) who contested the two-day Gold Coast Open Championship from May 4-5.

He was one of 14 competitors, under the tutelage of fourth dan black-belt instructor Camille Pruckmuller, who returned with a collective 10 medals, including seven gold.

The teenager occasionally watches TV when he visits the homes of friends or family acquaintances but he finds great reinforcement around his home and that of his maternal grandparents, Rae and Peter Howe, about 50m away at Kahuranaki on the backdrop of Havelock North.

His father, Pat Mawson, is a straw bale house builder while mother Rochelle Howe runs a native plant nursery in Haumoana. The family grow and eat organic produce and junk food isn't on their menu.

On the rainy days, though, Jake Mawson suspects TV can come in handy although he prefers to curl up in a comfortable corner of his own straw-bale room to bury himself in books. He is, however, able to do research on his father's computer if school work demands it.

He claimed bronze in the sparring discipline of the blue-belt division on the Saturday, after losing on a golden point in his opening bout, before following it up with gold by a 20-point margin in the higher red division the next day.

"It was really great and exciting to go to Australia for a competition," says the Year 8 pupil who was competing overseas for the first time but has won medals at tournaments in Auckland, Wellington and Tauranga in four years of engagement.

He found the Aussies welcoming but also taking the competition to a high level.

Mawson grappled with some jangled nerves but it was nowhere near what he thought it might have been. Once on the mat he got into his groove for the 3 x 1-minute rounds.

With the coach of his opponent opting out of head kicks on the Saturday, Mawson found it a little inhibiting but the freedom to do that on Sunday enabled him to express himself better as exponents are clad in chest, leg and head pads.

"I think head kicks is probably my best effort," he says, revealing Pruckmuller often decides when they engage in full-contact combat any given day.

Mawson got into taekwondo after a friend, Ben Simpson, encouraged him to give it a go.

Ironically the martial art has struck a chord with him but his school mate quite about 18 months ago.

He has enjoyed other people at the dojang who are learning the art of self-control.

"It teaches you co-ordination, like just not to go all out but only as much as it takes to stop [someone from getting physical]," he says, never having had to employ it but being richer for having that confidence boost.

Mawson says it helps immensely with his overall fitness which, in turn, shows in his other codes of football, volleyball, futsal in summer and cross-country running.

His parents support him and brother Sam, 9, plays hockey but Mawson isn't sure if he'll follow him to the dojang some day.

Mawson harbours a desire to represent his country in taekwondo at the Commonwealth or Olympics games some day.

Pruckmuller, who competed overseas for the first time as well to clinch gold in poomse (patterns) in the under-60 black-belt division, says nurturing the youngsters for a world championship in three to six years is on the agenda.

"Our next big competition is the nationals in Wellington in October but we've also received multiple invites throughout Australia to join and compete at events," she says.

"All in all it [Gold Coast] was a great tournament with joys, tears, highs and lows, excitement and a huge learning curve for me and my team," says Pruckmuller, thanking the Aussies for their warmth and hospitality.

Black-belt instructor Camille Pruckmuller (left) with her happy contingent of Se Jong Taekwondo Hawke's Bay Inc members who returned with medals from the Gold Coast. Photo / Supplied
Black-belt instructor Camille Pruckmuller (left) with her happy contingent of Se Jong Taekwondo Hawke's Bay Inc members who returned with medals from the Gold Coast. Photo / Supplied

PERFORMERS

Poomse (patterns):

Camille Pruckmuller:

U60 black belt, gold.

Diane Bainbridge-Quate:

Over-60 para white-yellow belt, gold.

Lorraine Bainbridge:

Para-poomsae black-belt open, gold.

Sparring:

Lorraine Bainbridge: Bronze after three rounds with three-time world para champion Janine Watson (Australia). The latter lost to able-bodied black-belt opponent although no head kicks were allowed.
Jacob Mawson: Gold in 12-14yrs cadet, red belt, over-55kg with head kicks; bronze U55kg, second division.
Harlem Pruckmuller-Brown: Gold boys' 11yr and U45kg, 20-point gap. No head kicks.
Ataahua Horsefield-TeAho: Gold girls' U45kg, by 20 points. No head kicks.
Ludovick Hakiwai: Gold in junior, male 15y, yellow-blue belt division U70kg, no head kicks (requested by other coach) by 20 points.
Ryan Wu: Bronze, 10yr male, U45kg red-black tip belt, lost to golden point.
Elliah Torea: Junior Black Belt female, sparring 11yr faced 15yr Aussie champion in the U60kg.