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CRESTWOOD – Banged, bruised and solo, Aaron Dickerson fought his way to a third place finish in the National Collegiate Tae Kwon Do Championships in California on Sunday.
Dickerson, an instructor at the Kentucky Tae Kwon Do and Fitness Academy in Crestwood, took third place in the middleweight division. A December graduate of the University of Louisville, he was the only Kentucky competitor in the tournament.
“It’s like the NCAA tournament of Tae Kwon Do,” Dickerson said. “It was my last chance to compete at this level before I move into the senior division.”
Dickerson won his first match over an opponent from Oklahoma 8-5, but the win was costly as he banged knees with his foe early in the match.
“At that point I just had to realize this is what champions have to overcome,” Dickerson said. “I just had to mentally fight my way through it. My knee hurt, but I couldn’t think about it.”
Dickerson went solo in the tournament. His coach, Master Sean Ramey, had prior commitments and couldn’t attend.
“I was all by myself which was different,” Dickerson said. “Master Ramey told me he had to do that several times when he was competing so I was carrying on a tradition.”
Dickerson beat his second opponent from Indiana 4-3. In his first semifinal match, he lost to a fighter from Virginia 9-8 in a match that came down to the last second. Dickerson trailed 6-0 early in the match, but fought his way back into it and at the same time brought the crowd over to his side.
“After that match everybody was cheering for me so it was good to have the crowd support,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson dropped his final match 4-3 in the last second again to a foe from California to win a bronze medal.
“You always hate to lose when it is that close,” Dickerson said. “Considering my knee and everything else I was pretty pleased with how I did.”
The middleweight division runs from 176 pounds to 192 pounds leaving room for a full slate of different types of fighters.
“It’s pretty diverse,” Dickerson said. “You have everything from the really tall, lanky guys to the short, stocky and muscular guys in it. You have to be prepared for anything.”
Dickerson will compete in the senior nationals in July.
“It’s a big meet and my first time in it,” he said. “You can qualify for several national teams if you do well in it.”
Dickerson earned his degree in theatre arts from U of L and is hopes to launch an acting career to feature his martial arts experience.
He is set to appear as an actor and a stunt man in an independent horror film being shot in Louisville in May.
“I just want to get my feet wet and get some experience,” Dickerson said. “The stunt part sounds fun, who knows, maybe I can be one of Jackie Chan’s stunt guys one day.”
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