Family togetherness is one big kick

"The family that fights together, stays together?In the case of the Hutchings clan, a case could definitely be made.Stephen and Patricia Hutchings and their four children - Victoria, 12, Stephanie, 9, Peter, 7, and Tracy, 5 - have found not only togetherness - but fun and triumph - in their joined activities in the burgeoning sport of Taekwando.Together, the elder four members of the family has accounted for six medal-winning competitions at two recent Taekwando events.In the September President's Cup competition, Stephanie won a gold medal and Victoria and Stephen won silver medals in the poomse or forms event in their respective age categories.In the Oct. 28 Governor's Cup event, Stephanie and Victoria both won gold, while Patricia took a bronze medal.In all, Bainbridge's HPC team, led by coach Jose Lugo, won eight gold medals and two bronzes. Other winners included Marc Lasoff (gold), Michelle Hutchins (gold), Laura Cleaver (gold), Emilio Lugo (gold and bronze) and Jose Lugo (two golds).When people see us and say, 'You're a family that does this together,' that makes me feel good, Patricia Hutchings said.On the surface, the Hutchings, who moved to the island two years ago, are much like any other Bainbridge family. Stephen works as an engineer at Boeing, while Patricia is the homemaker, shuttling her four kids around to their assorted sports and arts pursuits.Only Stephen had any background in martial arts, having taking karate lessons in his early 20s and later achieving brown-belt status. At the time, he was thinking purely in terms of practicing self-defense.I always wondered, 'What if someone came up behind you?' And I didn't know, he said.When he and Patricia got married, he always felt that martial arts would make a perfect family activity - and once Tracy, the youngest, was deemed ready to learn her forms, the family enrolled in Lugo's HPC classes, or dojang, in Taekwando parlance, in February.Before, everybody always had their own thing, Patricia said. It was taekwando that brought everyone together.The family - and especially the kids - took to the sport immediately, even if it wasn't exactly what they expected.I thought it was just going to be punching and kicking, Stephanie Hutchings recalled. But it was more than that. You learn to be respectful.That's the point of Taekwando, according to Lugo.It's not just about making yourself better, he said. In Taekwando, you learn to contribute to one another's progress, to develop a sense of camaraderie.And, as in a case like this, when the parents are behind them, the kids are more likely to learn.The workouts show a ballet-like symphony of moves that are by turns graceful, swift, acrobatic, abrupt and at times startling in their intensity. Students in the first stages, like the Hutchings, work exclusively on their poomse, getting no closer to contact combat than a strike against a padded surface held by a classmate.In competition, the participants perform choreographed sequences of forms patterns. They are judged on the accuracy of their movements, as well as more subjective qualities such as grace, balance, power and focus.In the more advanced dojang, the family will work toward actually sparring competition, referred to as gyoroggi.It's kind of neat, Stephanie Hutchings said of her first competition. Seeing the announcer call your name, seeing everyone looking at you in the stadium - its' something that's never happened to me before.And unlike other athletic events, once the competition is over, it's really over.If you lose, the other person says 'Good job' and encourages you, Victoria Hutchings said. You don't feel bad.Part of the thrill for kids is that, as they develop at their own pace in class, they are often asked to help out the classmates who may be lagging in learning their elementary moves - even if they're older. Even, in some cases, their own parents.For the older participants, it's more about staying in shape as they reach a time in their lives when their bodies would otherwise start to turn against them.Your flexibility, especially, gets reduced at a certain age, said Stephen Hutchings, 40. Just recently we've done endurance drills as well. Two full minutes of hard kicking - I couldn't imagine doing that four or five months ago.The Hutchings, who do on average three 90-minute workouts each week, are completing their forms lessons in preparation for their next competition in March.Within a year, they hope, Tracy and Peter will be able to step into the competition ring with them.We all really look forward to going to class because we get to meet new people and learn new things, Victoria Hutchings said. We really like it. "

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