Tallmadge residents compete for Asian Sun Team

Published:

Staff report

They range from age 8 to 42.

They kick, they punch, they think and they learn.

It's like an Olympic training regimen, mixed with master's-degree-level physiology classes. It also includes some yoga and some physical therapy because this level of intense practice takes its toll.

Members of the Asian Sun Martial Arts competition team gather at the Hudson location four nights a week, preparing to compete at Taekwondo tournaments from Florida to California.

Around 15 team members were expected to travel to San Diego the weekend of July 4, hoping to win gold medals at USA Taekwondo's National Championships. Results were not available at press time.

Asian Sun's coaching staff includes a veteran physical therapist and a nationally ranked competitor.

"The driving force behind going from the old way of training two days per week was how high the level of competition is these days," said Grandmaster Ryan Andrachik, the team's head coach. "Kids who are 10-year old have been to four or five Nationals. They train four days a week. So we had to adapt our training to stay competitive."

There is a 90-minute session is the weekly Flexibility and Fitness Class. In Olympic-style sparring competition, a kick or punch to the chest scores one point and a kick to head scores three points.

The core of this flexibility regimen is a cutting-edge approaching called M.A.T., which is short for Muscle Activation Techniques.

When Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning sustained what looked like a career-ending injury, M.A.T. pioneer Greg Roskopf used the techniques to rehab Manning for a record-setting season.

Fitness and Flexibility classes are led by Raquel Cecil, who is a practicing registered nurse, certified personal trainer, Pilates instructor, Yogilates teacher and Ohio University graduate. With a dozen years of experience, she saw M.A.T. practiced at the highest levels when she interned with the Broncos, under Roskopf.

M.A.T. exercises combine the best of yoga, Pilates and biochemistry to create immediate, measurable results that increase from session to session.

Hudson resident Ryan Andrachik, an eight-degree black belt, has owned Asian Sun since 1994. His students have won countless medals.

"The Olympic Training Center really opened my eyes," said Ryan Andrachik. "Athletes are getting yoga and stretching and strength and conditioning and special target-paddle classes -- in addition to group training."

This year, most Team members headed to Nationals have been to at least three national-level championships sponsored by the USAT or Amateur Athletic Union. This year alone, Asian Sun competitors have brought back 30 medals, from tournaments from Switzerland to Detroit.

For teenage students like Tallmadge resident Ryan Heerema, he helps master footwork and focus their mindset. For adults, like Ryan's father Jeff, the coaches are a priceless resource.

"Sparring experience with the master instructors in great," said Jeff Heerema, a 42-year-old black belt who has been on the Asian Sun team for six years, attended four national championships and medaled in three. "When I get to Nationals, nobody in my division is going to be as good as him.

"I love this. It's a great, family-building thing, watching my son compete and training with him. I'm seeing Ryan throw things I've never seen before. He's doing well."

This year, Asian Sun purchased eight expensive electronic sets made by Daedo, the leading competition gear company.

Asian Sun has nine schools, with locations in Aurora, Beachwood, Brecksville, Green, Hudson, Montrose, Stow, Tallmadge, and Wadsworth.

For more about Asian Sun Martial Arts, visit www.asiansun.net. For more information about Asian Sun's World Kickboxing Academy, visit www.worldkickboxingacademy.com.

For more information about individual competitors, including pictures and bios, contact Asian Sun at 330-650-6333 or email at info@asiansun.net.

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