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With his size-3 foot, he can snap a 3/4-inch pine board - or a grown man's shinbone

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    With his size-3 foot, he can snap a 3/4-inch pine board - or a grown man's shinbone

    Posted on Mon, Jun. 13, 2005

    Tae kwon do prodigy Nathan Kubala has his eyes on the Olympics

    MARK COOMES

    Associated Press


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. - He's only 9 years old and already he has a reputation.

    It's growing almost as fast as he is.

    "At tournaments, people notice when he shows up," tae kwon do master Mariano Floro said. "People recognize that he has special talent."

    Nathan Kubala is a little fellow with big dreams. He wants to be the next Bruce Lee.

    Don't put it past him.

    If you were forecasting martial-arts movie stardom, Nathan might appear on the radar as a pint-sized perfect storm - a precocious tae kwon do prodigy who is adept at boxing, gymnastics and performing with cinematic flair.

    "I want to be an Olympic champion," Nathan said. "I want to be a movie star. And when I'm famous, I want to give money to the poor, to kids who have diseases, and help the elderly."

    That's quite an ambitious agenda for a third-grader. This one has the outsized talent to match.

    "I see him all the time," Nathan's dad, Paul Kubala, said, "so I don't always notice until he does something that just totally blows everybody else away, which happens quite often, frankly."

    Nathan is the two-time American Athletic Union state champion in his age class. He has won 20 gold medals from various tournaments around the region over the past four years.

    Twelve of those medals hung from Nathan's neck at a recent practice. It seemed about 10 too many for his 53-inch, 68-pound frame.

    He is the third-smallest boy in his class at St. Rita Catholic School in suburban Louisville. In martial arts, however, size often belies strength.

    Nathan is just two degrees shy of a black belt. With his size-3 foot, he can snap a 3/4-inch pine board - or a grown man's shinbone, if it came to that.

    "You would not want him to kick you," said Floro, a fourth-degree black belt who trains Nathan at the American Taekwondo & Kickboxing Academy in eastern Jefferson County.

    "Nathan rarely fights at a tournament without making his opponent cry," Kubala said. "His kicks are so hard and so fast for his age group that most kids simply cannot take the punishment that he can deliver, even when wearing protective gear."

    Nathan was 5 when he made his competitive debut in an Atlanta tournament that drew young fighters from Mexico, Canada, Korea and Vietnam. The referee had to stop his final bout after Nathan pummeled his opponent with three kicks to the head. The flurry happened so fast that the other boy couldn't get his hands up fast enough to block even one kick.

    "I sat in the coach's chair completely amazed at the energy Nathan had unleashed, thinking, 'My gosh, where did that come from?'" Kubala said.

    It might be genetic.

    Nathan's mother, Irisa, is a pacifist, but her father, Francisco Hibanda, was a professional practitioner of arnis balite, a Filipino martial art that emphasizes stick-fighting.

    Kubala, a retired Marine sergeant, studied tae kwon do as a child, but his son's involvement has nothing to do with family tradition.

    "He wasn't paying attention in school," Kubala said. "We didn't have any children in the neighborhood at the time, so when he got to kindergarten, he thought, 'It's time to play with my buddies.'"

    Nathan's tae kwon do career is a classic example of the law of unintended consequences.

    "I needed to learn how to focus in school," Nathan said. "But after a few months, we found out that I was pretty good at it."

    Pretty good, indeed. Nathan already has won 20 tournaments, placed second three times and third three times. His big test comes this summer at the AAU Junior Olympics in New Orleans.

    Nathan showed that he is ready for the challenge by nearly defeating last year's national bronze medalist at a recent regional tournament.

    "He was winning coming into the last round, and he should have won," Floro said. "He just flat out should've won."

    Winning isn't everything at Nathan's age. Ask about his summer plans and the Junior Olympics barely rates a mention.

    "I'm looking forward to the sleepovers at (Floro's) gym," Nathan said. "They bring video games and a jumping house. It's really fun, and they let us stay up till 1:30 in the morning." Edit: Uh oh, sleepovers!

    Kubala said he tries to strike a balance between dedication and recreation.

    Nathan trains 90 minutes a day, five days a week - four days with Floro and one with boxing trainer Hector Criollo - and usually competes in two tournaments a month.

    "We're dedicated because that's what it takes," Kubala said. "Other kids are out there training as much or more. If you back off to, say, three days a week, there's a significant difference over a period of time.

    "But we definitely back off sometimes. We take a week off here and there. He'll let me know, 'Dad, I think I want to play today.' Or, 'I'm kind of tired.'"

    Nathan doesn't say those things very often.

    "I love this sport," he said. "You get to kick people around."

    http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/11883835.htm

    He's getting his kicks. :sad6:

    #2
    "Nathan is just two degrees shy of a black belt. With his size-3 foot, he can snap a 3/4-inch pine board - or a grown man's shinbone, if it came to that."

    Could you imagine the first person who blocks his roundhouse kick by lifting his knee and blocking with his shin? I think he'll sooner cry in pain than snap his opponents leg.

    As far as how deadly he is he'll be better off if he joins the wrestling team in middle/high school. If he doesnt, then I hope he manages to get into a fight with one of the kids on the team (and I hope he thinks he'll win).

    Comment


      #3
      "Nathan rarely fights at a tournament without making his opponent cry..."

      "Preparing mentally, the most important thing is, if you aren't doing it for the love of it, then don't do it." - Benny Urquidez

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        #4
        So, who here on the board lives in Kentucky? Would any grown men be willing to go down to this school and offer to let the kid kick him in the shin to see if he can really snap it? Whatta buncha crap. This Walker, Texas Ranger mentality crap is gonna get some poor kid killed one day because he believed his own hype.

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          #5
          Nathan made me cry reading that.

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            #6
            ass-kickin 9-year old

            C'mon guys, don't trash on the kid. First of all, the article is written by a journalist, that may or may not know a damn thing about martial arts. Secondly, remarks about breaking legs may not have been meant seriously, but that won't come across in a newspaper article.

            More importantly, though, the kid seems to have a real passion for the martial arts, and hopefully a long future ahead of him. If he truly pursues martial arts in the future as fervently as he does now, hopefully he'll go on to learn a variety of arts and cross-train to become a truly rounded martial artist. (The arnis from his father would be a good start I bet). I just hope he doesn't become one of those gymkata crap-a-palooza competitors...

            Seriously, guys, kids don't have any place in MMA beatdown-type martial arts. The y need to learn structured fundamentals, learn how to take direction, learn discipline, and develop their coordination -- even CrapKwonDo can help with that.
            I just hope he goes on to become a "true disciple" of martial arts, and not an American CrapKwonDo icon making D-movies along side a geriatric Cynthia Rothrock.


            -daGorilla

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              #7
              True, it was the journalist who was hamming things up and writing for effect. I guess it would make more sense to send a note to the journalist.

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                #8
                So what? I can rip a piece of paper, which is the equivalent of 15 gorillas in half.

                PL

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                  #9
                  Give the kid credit. He's only 9 yrs. old and seems dedicated as hell. He competes. He's working out with a boxing coach once a week. It's sure as hell better than what most 9 yr. olds are doing.

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                    #10
                    If he tries to snap a kidnapper/molester's shinbone and his technique for some odd reason doesn't work, then what? It'd be his instructor's and parent's fault. Also, any reporter who hypes up TKD or any TMA should be thrown off a cliff.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by bad credit
                      If he tries to snap a kidnapper/molester's shinbone and his technique for some odd reason doesn't work, then what? It'd be his instructor's and parent's fault. Also, any reporter who hypes up TKD or any TMA should be thrown off a cliff.
                      Then what? Well, it was better than nothing I suppose. I don't see as the kid would have a whole hell of a lot of options in that case anyway.

                      I seriously doubt that kid believes that he can snap a man's shin bone. That was just sensationalism to make an article compelling for the idiot masses. But who knows, maybe he does believe that, and yes, that would make his instructor a real asshole.

                      But let's face it, the kid's only 9. If he were to be kidnapped, kicking the shit out the the kidnappers shin is probably all he'd be able to do anyway, and it might actually work, so wtf. Have at it kid.

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                        #12
                        omg make it stop. If I ever open a school, no kids. When parents come to enroll kids ill send them to never neverland karate.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by PizDoff
                          [i]Posted on Mon, Jun. 13, 2005

                          [size=4]
                          "I want to be an Olympic champion," Nathan said.
                          A decent goal even if it is TKD, hopfully boxing.

                          Originally posted by PizDoff
                          [i]Posted on Mon, Jun. 13, 2005
                          [size=4]
                          "I want to be a movie star. And when I'm famous, I want to give money to the poor, to kids who have diseases, and help the elderly."
                          What will "really" happen
                          When I'm famous, I want to give money to the poor(Hookers and Drug Dealers), to kids who have diseases(in order to battle bad PR), and help the elderly(woman who I married for her forturne)."

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by EternalRage
                            omg make it stop. If I ever open a school, no kids. When parents come to enroll kids ill send them to never neverland karate.

                            No sleepovers? Pfft to YOUR school :spanky:

                            Comment


                              #15


                              www.NathanTheMongoose.com





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