DEARBORN — The 2017 National Championships for U.S.A. Taekwondo took place at the Cobo Center in Detroit from June 30 to July 6. This marked the first time in nine years that the championships took place in Michigan. Athletes from the Dearborn-based Koubeissi Taekwondo School brought home two silver medals and one bronze.
Yara Nasser, a 10-year old black belt, won bronze in the 10-11-year-old female division. Ali Aoude, a 20-year-old pre-med major at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, won silver in the 18-32-year-old middle weight division (80.1-87Kg). Hameed Dakroub, 27 and a black belt since the age of 9, won silver in the 18-32-year-old light weight division (68.1-74Kg) while working as a full-time lawyer at his firm, Dakroub Law Group, PLLC.
In Taekwondo, the belts begin at yellow and progress to yellow-stripe, green, green stripe, blue, blue stripe, red, red stripe and black.
Dakroub, now a fifth-degree black belt, said he cannot train as much as his competitors, but the work they put in at Master Koubeissi’s school is very intense. It also helps that Dakroub began his Taekwondo career at 6-years-old. Koubeissi said it’s never too late to start though. Aoude began fighting just two years ago and is already a blue stripe belt, about to graduate to a red belt.
Dakroub didn’t plan to participate in the national championships if they’d be held out of state. However, once he heard they were being held in Detroit he asked himself, “How can I not compete in my own backyard?”
Dakroub and Aoude are scheduled to go to Colorado Springs in January to compete at team trials for the USA National Team. They’ve already begun training.
It was the first trip to the national championships for Aoude.
“It was unlike any other tournament,” he said. “In the beginning, when you go it’s very organized. Everyone is wearing a suit and a tie; it’s no joke.”
“You just do as you’re told and you just trust it,” Dakroub said, when it comes to having a coach as skilled as Master Koubeissi. “It allows you to make it as far as we have as a school, collectively. There’s a reason for that and it’s not just because of me or Ali; it’s because we have a great support system in our coach. He’s the one that leads the way for us. That’s the only reason we are able to make it that far.”
Dakroub said being disciplined in Taekwondo helps him stay disciplined in other facets of his life.
“It’s an independent sport,” he said. “It teaches you self-discipline; it teaches you to be mentally strong; it gives you confidence. If we are into it and we are training, it translates into our outside career. Because we are disciplined in Taekwondo, it allows us to be disciplined in our studies or our work; it allows us to be disciplined in whatever it is in our life; it allows us to stay away from the peer pressure and the negativity that may come from external society.”
Koubeissi said Taekwondo is about “self-discipline, confidence and self-respect.”
Dakroub said they’ve witnessed a lot of diversity at competitions. Competitors have included Arabs, Caucasians, Africans and Asians.
Taekwondo is truly a world-wide sport. According to the World Taekwondo Headquarters, the top five world-ranking male athletes are from the Republic of Korea, Iran, Ireland, Mexico and Belgium respectively. The top five world-ranking female athletes are from Cyprus, Canada, Ukraine, Republic of Korea and Tunisia respectively.
Aoude will be beginning his junior year at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in the fall. Dakroub will continue to practice law full time. They both plan to continue the sport for as long as they can because, as Dakroub said, “it’s my rush.”