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Sherwood taekwondo school set for its 're-grand opening'


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Shawn Jones, 10, his sister, Zaina, 8, both from Tualatin and Cole Noretto, 12, who lives in Tigard, demonstrate how how to do a front-kick at the U.S. World Class Taekwondo at Sherwood Market Center. The three Taekwondo students will demonstrate their craft during a grand re-opening this Saturday.Taekwondo is a growing attraction in Sherwood — literally.

U.S. World Class Taekwondo at Sherwood Market Center has roughly doubled in size through a recent expansion. Now, the martial arts school, which has been operating for about 10 years, plans to to showcase its new space and its students’ work with what owner and instructor Michael Tornincasa calls a “re-grand opening” on Saturday.

“We had 150 (students) training in this tiny facility,” he said. “It was time to provide them with a better training facility. Doubling the size meant that we could provide a better training for these kids.”

Quietly, U.S. World Class Taekwondo has been living up to its name.

Among the students who will be demonstrating their forms, sparring and board-breaking skills Saturday are a number of state and national medalists, including Shaun Jones, a fourth-grader at Tualatin Elementary School who won gold at the 2013 Taekwondo National Championships in Chicago.

Banners reading “2014 Best School” and “2015 Best Club” from the Pan American Open Taekwondo Championships — determined, Tornincasa said, by how students performed from all of the participating schools in the Pan American Taekwondo Union, which includes the United States, Canada, Mexico and a number of Caribbean and Central American countries — are proudly displayed on the walls overlooking the newly expanded training floor.

Like many of Tornincasa’s students, Jones doesn’t live in Sherwood. But since a U.S. World Class Taekwondo instructor came to his preschool, he said, he’s been hooked.

Asked why he doesn’t attend a Taekwondo school in Tigard, where he lives, 12-year-old Cole Noretto was succinct.

“Because this is better,” he said.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Michael Tornincasa, owner and instructor at U.S. World Class Taekwondo, points to a banner that hangs on the wall of the Sherwood studio: Best Club at the 2015 Pan American Club Taekwondo Championships.Cole’s mother Tonja said they’ve been a U.S. World Class Taekwondo family for about a year and a half. After regularly attending her son’s classes and sitting in the audience, Tonja Noretto said, she eventually became the school’s program director.

“We’re very satisfied,” she said, adding, “I think that what I’m really fond of is not only what taekwondo brings children, which is discipline, self-respect, integrity ... but it’s really the leadership that’s here.”

“My goal is to raise Olympians,” said Tornincasa frankly. With students like Shaun, his sister Zaina and Cole, he added, he thinks they’re on track: “These three have a very good chance.”

As Noretto mentioned, one of the draws of martial arts such as taekwondo is that in addition to building strength and agility and learning self-defense, students are also taught virtues like courtesy, integrity and discipline.

“We make sure they act like black belts at home and at school before they ever put one on here,” Tornincasa said.

Students at the school take that attitude to heart. When Shaun, Zaina and Cole address Tornincasa, they call him “sir.” Tornincasa himself models that behavior, using “sir” conversationally like an old-fashioned gentleman.

Tornincasa, who also has a taekwondo school in Newberg, said he has been practicing taekwondo for about 30 years now. He said he and his instructors practice a “modern” approach to taekwondo, an ancient Korean martial art, that emphasizes “positive reinforcement,” including regular attendance of national championships, as well as exercise and fitness.

Unlike many taekwondo schools, U.S. World Class Taekwondo has classes for all ages. Tornincasa estimated about 30 percent of his students are adults.

Saturday’s showcase event is open to the public.

“We just want to make a nice event for the Sherwood community,” said Tornincasa.

Sherwood Mayor Krisanna Clark and officials from the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce will be at the grand opening. Tornincasa and Noretto said they are looking forward to having them.

“We really want to embrace our community involvement,” Noretto said.

The grand opening is from 2 to 4 p.m. Noretto said there will be a ribbon-cutting with the mayor at 2:30 p.m., followed by student demonstrations.

U.S. World Class Taekwondo is located at 15966 S.W. Tualatin-Sherwood Rd., Sherwood.