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Fight like an Olympian in the 209
Merafuentes taekwondo students: back row from left; Coach Corey Viray, Coach Laura Merafuentes, Master Tony Merafuentes. Front, from left; Oscar Flores, Liam Wickstrom, Mika Viray, A.J. Borovansky, Albie Borovansky, and Kai Merafuentes. - photo by Photo Contributed

It’s what dreams are made of — landing the winning kick as time expires to win a medal on the world’s biggest stage, the Olympic Games. For first-time Olympian Terrence Jennings it wasn’t a dream because he did just that in London, winning a bronze medal in taekwondo in the men’s -68kg division.

With the score tied 5-5, Jennings, 26, landed a three-point head shot against Brazil’s Diogo Silva as the clock ran out in their bronze-medal showdown. But nobody was sure if the kick had landed before time expired. U.S. Coach Juan Moreno asked for a video review and the replay confirmed that the head shot landed before the clock ran out, giving Jennings the bronze.

For the women, Paige McPherson made it two Olympic medals in two days for the U.S. taekwondo contingent as they wrapped up their competition at the 2012 Games.

If Jennings’ gold medal kick or McPherson’s dominance sparked a desire to hit the mat and land a few punches yourself, there are plenty of taekwondo studios in the 209 to satisfy your desire.

Tony Merafuentes has been a taekwondo practitioner for 35 years and an instructor for 22 of those years. Merafuentes’ instructing career began in Modesto when he was just 24 years old, but three years ago he brought his knowledge and love for the Korean martial art to the Turlock academy on East Main.

Since then Merafuentes has welcomed those interested in taekwondo, guiding and teaching them in the many areas of the art.

“A lot of the things we focus on are self respect, discipline, and confidence,” Merafuentes said. “Taekwondo is more than a fighting, martial art. It teaches principles of respect, control and physical and mental well-being in a structured classroom environment.”

At American Taekwondo, located at 1645 Countryside Dr. in Turlock, the sport offers more than just kicking and punching.  It is a complete performance program with a proven track record of over 30 years.

“Taekwondo is a great form of martial arts training.  When you commit to train at our facility, you can be assured that you are learning from professional instructors and leaders in your community.  Our masters and instructors are world certified, constantly attending seminars and are re-certified bi-annually,” said ATC Northern California Director Wayne Barber.

ATC martial arts academies are independently owned and operated throughout the United States.

“Our facilities do not teach violence, but we do teach a more intense program of self-defense. Our students also improve in focus, self control, self determination, perseverance, concentration, cooperation, confidence, respect, integrity and learning to deal with life’s daily stress,” said Barber.

ATC also practices Olympic-style sparring, as well as sport specific strength and endurance training.

American Taekwondo offers classes for adults in several martial arts forms and courses on master club weapons and ground techniques.

“We are very flexible to our students.  It allows us to offer our adult students a superior curriculum that will meet the needs of each student and may be adjusted to fit their own physical abilities,” said Barber.

“Taekwondo is an excellent way to get in shape.  It helps you relax and improves on your flexibility.  People should take advantage of this opportunity and try this amazing expression of art.”

To register for a free trial lesson at American Taekwondo, visit or call 667-5972.

For more information about Merafuentes Taekwondo, call 668-1479 or visit 405 E. Main St., Turlock.



209 reporter