Trio of teens to teach world-class TKD camp

Posted Monday, Jul. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Riley Pederson remembers the first martial arts lesson he took as a six-year-old. The only reason Pederson wanted to give the sport a shot was because his older brother, Jeff, would also be taking his first lesson.

But rapidly, Pederson realized how much he enjoyed martial arts. Three years after his first lesson, Pederson told his parents he wanted to open up a martial arts school of his own with Jeff. In 2006, the brothers along with their sisters opened a school in Golden, Colo.

“Basically my whole life revolved around it,” Pederson said. “When I wasn’t training I was teaching. When I wasn’t doing that I was studying or eating or sleeping. I absolutely loved doing it, too.”

Colleyville teen Trace Megellas, a multiple world champion in Taekwondo, can relate.

“I do so many – I wouldn’t say camps, but seminars; I go to so many different schools and do seminars that last an hour or two,” Megellas said. “I’ve probably done about 50.”

Earlier in his career, Megellas expressed an interest in going from champion to instructor, with the goal of someday running his own martial arts school. The time he’s put into instruction since then has only made that dream more vivid.

“It’s not a focus anymore – it’s a ‘must-do’ now,” he said.

The young martial artists are getting ready for a big teaching experience at the ATA Camp of Champions next month, which will also feature Paige Bantum of Las Vegas, herself a champion of many events throughout her career and a rising teen star in martial arts.

“I’ve taught with Paige before, but never really at a camp like this,” Megellas said. “She’s best at nunchucks and open-hand, I’m best at bo staff and Riley is able to teach things that she and I aren’t the best at. So we really complement each other.”

The camp will begin Aug. 5 at Jackson’s ATA Black Belt Academy in Coppell and run through Aug. 9. Thus far, athletes from nine states have filled 25 of the 30 spots. The camp costs $299 for the week.

With a combined 34 world championships in a variety of forms between Pederson, Megellas, and Bantum, campers should have plenty to learn. Now 17, Pederson is a third-degree black belt. Each year he competes in top-flight martial arts competitions across the world. His resume to date includes five World Championships.

But as much as Pederson enjoys competing, teaching might even be more rewarding.

“I think it’s good to be a competitor but it’s better to go out and help other people achieve things in martial arts,” he said. “It’s not just about me. I can’t wait to go out and teach others about martial arts. It’s going to be such a fun camp, instructing these kids how to compete in something we all love to do so much.”

The camp will also be a reunion of colleagues.

“I met Trace and Paige basically how I meet everybody,” Pederson said. “Through martial arts. I’d seen them on the circuit before a couple times and we got to be friendly with each other. We’re all around the same age and have a similar passion for the sport so we had the idea of putting on a camp of our own at the end of this summer. We all love teaching others.”

Information: www.tforceelite.com/camp-of-champions

Stephen English contributed to this report.

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