WELLINGTON: As a group of 11 black belt taekwondo athletes from Inner Strength Taekwondo in Wellington prepare to take on competition from around the country and internationally, they are training hard to be at their best.

Part of that training involves sparring against one another. They changed things up on Aug. 21 inviting me to join them and suit up in the sparring gear and fight three of the athletes—all who are focused on upcoming national and international tournaments in September; October; and January.

VIDEO: Pat takes on Raya Porter in first match

Reporter Pat Healey blocks a kick shot by Raya Porter during a taekwon demonstration match. (Healey photo)

The tournaments are the Canada Open in Richmond, B.C. in September; the President’s Cup in October in Las Vegas, Nv.; and in January the Canadian Nationals in Quebec. The ultimate goal is for one of the athletes to place and attend the worlds in Australia.

I accepted the invitation and really not knowing what I’m to do or anything like that, I am assigned three matches. They usually are three rounds of two minutes each. Needless to say, I didn’t come close to even getting half way through each match.

VIDEO: Pat tackles Carly Sawler in the second match

The tall Dylan Bennet has his kick blocked by reporter Pat Healey during a taekwondo demonstration at the Inner Strength dojang in Wellington on Aug. 21. (Healey photo)

I took on Inner Strength athletes Raya Porter, a seven-year-old who is very quick and comes by her TKD skills genetically (her dad is Master Porter, who runs the group out of the dojang located on Highway 2); Carly Sawler, a gold medal winning athlete; and Dylan Bennett, who’s very lanky and that’s an advantage for kicks to the opposition’s head.

“We’re really exciting to get to these events and show that our training has paid off,” said Dylan Bennett, 19. (He towers over just about anyone at the club on this night.)

“We’ve been training really hard,” added Carly Sawler.

These 11 black belt Inner Strength Taekwondo athletes will be attending various competitions in the coming months. Back (from left) Noah Gillis; Dylan Bennett;, Carly Sawler, Katie Cox, Kylie Cox, Jaidyn Bartlett, Aaron Potter. Front row (from left) Emma Bennett, Olivia McKenzie, Master Helbert Porter, Brett Skinner, and Kasey Cox. The ultimate goal is for one of the athletes to place to attend the worlds in Australia. (Healey photo)

The video that was taken by Sharon Fraser and Jennifer Skinner, and posted on the club’s Instagram and on my twitter and the Laker website says it all. They are very athletic and in shape—and can hit hard. And to think they took it easy on me so I would hate to be in a real match against them knowing they hadn’t given it their all on little ole me.

Let’s just say I got a good beat down, but thankfully didn’t come away with any major injuries or such.

One thing this night proved, I am not in shape or have the cardio to be a taekwondo athlete.

The athletes will be holding fundraisers looking for your support to help cover their expenses to attend these competitions. Let’s make sure we help them out!

Carly Sawler goes for an upper body kick on reporter Pat Healey who as his facial expression shows tries to prepare to block it but also prepare for it to connect. (Healey photo)