HRM graduate student Brianna Ellison competes in International Taekwondo Championship
by Ellie Ebanks
Hospitality and Retail Management (HRM) graduate student Brianna Ellison competed at the International Taekwondo Federation World Championship this October in Dublin, Ireland. She won her first match 4-0 against a Norwegian competitor, and won her second match due to a forfeit. Her last match ended in a loss against a German competitor due to a warning she received during the last ten seconds, costing her a point from each judge.
The Odessa, Texas native has been practicing taekwondo for 17 years. Brianna received her first black belt at age 12, and now at 22 is the National Taekwondo Champion in her sparring division. Brianna credits much of her success to her father, who never let her give up.
"I think my dad is probably the main reason I'm a successful competitor. I've wanted to quit so many times and he hasn't ever let me."
Brianna trains 6 days a week for national or international competitions, splitting the days evenly between cardio and technique training. In Lubbock, Brianna does cardio at the Texas Tech Rec Center and does technique training in her garage.
When Brianna's coach moved away, she lost her home taekwondo studio, but Brianna still trains with her coach regardless of the distance. They train over then phone and whenever they can meet up. Brianna says her coach is a huge contributor to her success.
"When he was a competitor he won several world championships so he knows exactly what it takes to get to where you need to be because he's done it himself."
Brianna ultimately wants to win a medal at a world championship before she retires, and is excited to continue competing in the senior division over the next few years. Brianna says that experience is a big factor in her division. The magnitude of international competitions can take a mental toll on competitors.
"Most competitors peak around the age of 25 in this sport so I'm excited to see what happens for me around then."
Brianna is currently taking a break from taekwondo to focus on her graduate studies. She is planning on resuming competition in late 2018.
"Balancing taekwondo and school has never been that difficult for me until this year in graduate school. I stayed up several nights before leaving and worked extra hours as a Teaching Assistant to make sure everything was done before missing two weeks of school."
Brianna's favorite part of taekwondo is competing, so a break is not to be taken lightly. Competition is the only reason why she is still training today.
"I get to see friends from all over the country and all over the world and we all support each other during the competition, which makes for a great atmosphere. They are the best part of the sport. "
Growing up, Brianna looked up to the older kids at her taekwondo studio who competed internationally. Brianna's coach suggested she try out for the USA team when she was only 13, and she made the team in 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2017. Brianna and her teammates support each other during team competitions as well as individual competitions.
Brianna says it's as if they've been training together for years even though they only see each other twice a year.
"I am especially close to my teammates from Texas. Even though I don't see them often, I am also close with my teammates from other parts of the country. We've been competing together for so long."
In the very little free time Brianna has, she likes to read, hang out with friends and family, and exercise. When she graduates, Brianna hopes to get a job in a city with a taekwondo studio so that she can practice more regularly. Ultimately, she says she would like to get a corporate job in retail, possibly as a buyer or an allocator.