Evan Thompson / The Record — Jeffrey Chia won the sparring title at the American Taekwondo Association World Championships on June 25 in Little Rock, Ark. Students and instructors at Armstrong’s Taekwondo congratulated him at the mixed martial arts school on Monday afternoon.

Clinton man wins taekwondo sparring world championship

Whidbey Island has a mixed martial arts world champion.

Jeffrey Chia of Clinton claimed the sparring title in the 50-59 age division at the American Taekwondo Association World Championship on June 23 in Little Rock, Ark. He also finished second in forms and competed in combat sparring. Chia, 52, is a student at Armstrong’s Taekwondo in Clinton.

“It’s one of those joyous moments,” Chia said. “There are people that try and try and it doesn’t happen, and then there are people who come out of no where and they get a title. It’s just a gift. It’s one of those things like, ‘Oh wow, how did that happen?’”

Robert Armstrong, owner of Armstrong’s Taekwondo, said Chia is the island’s first ever taekwondo world champion. Chia is Armstrong’s first student to win a title.

“When he told me he won, I was not speechless because I was screaming,” Armstrong said. “I was very excited.”

Chia won state and district sparring championships to earn one of 16 spots at the world championships, which drew competitors from 26 different countries. Following a bye at the start of the sparring tournament, Chia beat his next three opponents to win the title. A sparring match includes three rounds, with each round lasting two minutes. Judges score points based on strength of technique, style and point of contact on strikes.

Chia’s opponent in the championship match was a familiar foe. The California man had beaten Chia in the past, and had also defeated the top-ranked competitor in their age division in the semifinals. “Any other day, these people could probably beat me as well,” Chia said. “It was who could bring it to the plate at that moment and that time.”

Chia said his conditioning and cardio were the biggest difference-makers in the tournament, which stemmed from his training at Armstrong’s Taekwondo. The mixed martial arts school focuses on developing fitness and the will to outlast opponents.

“It’s one of the things that we really excel in,” Chia said. “We believe that everybody should get their best level of physical fitness that they can.”

Armstrong said Chia set out to become a world champion at the beginning of the taekwondo season. His training in the months that followed, which included two workouts per day, three times a week, reflected his drive to win.

“All he did was train hard every single class,” Armstrong said. “He never questioned why I told him to do something. He said, ‘Yes sir,’ and he did it.”

Chia started taekwondo when he was 13 and continued through college. But, as he began his career as an electrical engineer, he stopped competing. It wasn’t until his family joined Armstrong’s Taekwondo following its grand opening August 2014 when he ended his 30-year hiatus. Armstrong said he recognized Chia’s potential early on and told him at the start of the season that he had the makings of a world champion.

“He’s been training for a full year, nonstop, just for this one day,” Armstrong said.

His son, Joshua, was ringside in Little Rock and saw Chia win the title. Stephanie Chia, Jeffrey’s wife, said she was ecstatic when she heard the news of her husband’s world championship. She believes perseverance is her husband’s strongest attribute. Even when he loses, he finds a way to grow from it, she said. She also considered him a true black belt leader for the way he interacts with other students in the training hall and shares his knowledge.

“His goal is not only personal achievement, it’s to strengthen this dojang, which we think is a huge asset to the community in general,” Stephanie Chia said.

Stephanie Chia also feels that her husband’s victory validates the choices Armstrong’s Taekwondo has made in the way it teaches students, and their philosophies.

“It affirms what we’re doing,” Stephanie Chia said. “It never hurts to have a state champion and a district champion.”

“Now, we have a world champion,” she added.

Trevor Fleming, another student at Armstrong’s Taekwondo, echoed Stephanie Chia’s sentiments. He thinks of Jeffrey as a leader who is all about helping the “lowest belt to the highest belt.” Fleming is an orange belt and will soon begin competing in tournaments. He sees Jeffrey as an inspiration.

“It’s just great to have him here,” Fleming said. “He’s just an all around good guy. It couldn’t have happened to anyone better. You can see how humble he is. He worked his butt off for that.”

He also thought Jeffrey’s win puts the Clinton martial arts school on the map, and shows what can come from hard work in the training hall.

Evan Thompson / The Record — Jeffrey Chia displays his gold medal from the American Taekwondo Association World Championships.

More in News

No injuries in pair of crashes

Two car crashes on Wednesday in Clinton did not result in any… Continue reading

Firefighter stops chicken coop fire, helps save Langley home

A quick response by a local firefighter may have helped save a… Continue reading

Photo provided
                                A evidence photo taken by police shows a deputy’s AR-15 rifle that was involved in a police-related shooting on North Whidbey in September.
Review: Deputy justified in fatal shooting

A deputy was justified in fatally shooting Navy sailor Nicholas K. Perkins… Continue reading

Planning Commission member Tracy Gilroy speaks during a meeting on Monday. The commission voted to approve amendments made in response to a settlement agreement between Island County and the Whidbey Island Environmental Action Network. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times
Forest practices changes heading to board

Island County Planning Commission voted Monday to amend code related to forest… Continue reading

Dancing Fish Farm to buzz with The Bee Eaters fiddlers

Acoustic concert features fiddling siblings

Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News Group
                                John Bagley, left, makes a preliminary appearance in Island County Superior Court Monday. He’s accused of pawning a telescope stolen from a robotics club.
Man arrested for pawning robotics club’s telescope

A man faces a felony charge after getting caught pawning a telescope… Continue reading

Some costs unknown for East Langley infrastructure project

A proposed multimillion dollar infrastructure improvement plan in East Langley drew more… Continue reading

Flu factors into three Island County deaths in early 2018

All suffered underlying medical conditions

The Admiraly Head Lighthouse at Fort Casey State Park will have some major renovation work done, the majority of it being to its exterior. 2017 File Photo/Whidbey News-Times
Admiralty Head Lighthouse to get facelift sometime in 2019

One of the most famous buildings on Whidbey Island is going to… Continue reading

Most Read