Lance Krall

Whether watching his hilarious antics on The Joe Schmo Show, Free Radio, or as Sensei Ira on The Office, Lance Krall always delivers. He can also deliver a kick to your head. Wait, what?

Although Krall is widely known for his inventive and unique brand of comedy and acting, he is also a second-degree black belt (2nd dan) in Taekwondo. After years away from the art, while forging a career in Hollywood, Krall has returned to his first love. Krall took some time to speak with me about his years as a competitor, student, and his return to his roots.

The Beginning

Krall started studying Taekwondo at the age of 9, but it wasn't until he moved from New Mexico to Georgia that his journey truly began. Arriving at his new class in his cherished black uniform, "I just thought that looked really cool." and a newly attained yellow belt from his previous school, everything would change once he met his new teacher. "I went up there with my black uniform, and my yellow belt, and I walk into this class and the head instructor is this old Korean master, named Grand Master Yoo Jin Kim. He instantly told me, I have to go back to white belt, and that I wasn't allowed to wear that black uniform back in class again, and I was devastated because I was so proud of my yellow belt and my black uniform."

Though initially disappointed, Krall didn't quit."We stuck with him. I went back to white belt and I took lessons from him for about 14 years, and I earned my second-degree black belt with him."

The Student and the Master

It's a testimonial to his teacher's traditional methods, and Krall's dedication to his art, that he began facing black belts in competition when he was a blue belt. Krall was even invited to train at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1988 when Taekwondo was to be a demonstration sport at the Seoul Olympics.

Despite his achievements, Krall wasn't beyond reproach from his teacher. "At one point, I got my black belt revoked and got demoted back to brown belt because I left class early." Krall explains, "I realized halfway through class, that at the end of class, we were all going to bow to the flags (Korean and American) and I had forgotten the flags at home." With a solution that would seem at home in one of Krall's later comedy projects, he describes what happened next. "In the middle of meditation, when everybody's eyes were closed, I got up and I snuck out of class. Earning the ire of his teacher, Krall accepted his punishment, "I didn't think about the long-term repercussions of that action. He kicked me back down to brown belt for a year."

Although a demotion may have caused other students to quit, Krall kept training until a moment in a tournament changed everything in an instant. In a freak accident, while executing a kick in competition, Krall injured his knee. Lying on the mat in pain, Krall accepted what could not be changed. "When you have no choice as to what the outcome is, you just have to go, OK, well, I guess that's it. I was laying on the ground thinking: well, I guess I'm done fighting in tournaments now."

Although teaching was a satisfying alternative to competition for a while, eventually, Krall shifted gears and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in show business.

The Return

After years of being a successful performer, Krall has relocated back to Atlanta with his family and is focusing more on developing new projects for television with his company Picture It Productions. Recently, he has gone back to teaching Taekwondo. More importantly, Krall has returned to help teach classes with his legendary teacher, 90-year-old, and now 10th degree (10th dan), Great Master Yoo Jin Kim. According to Krall, the rank is the only change. "My master is just as strict as he's always been. He hasn't mellowed out at all."

How does it feel to come back to martial arts after being away for so long? "It feels so great to be back in there, to be training again. My body feels better. I feel a sense of accomplishment. I couldn't believe how much recall I had of all the forms that I had not done in 20 years."

Through his years of studying Taekwondo, Krall learned skills that are applicable on and off the mat, and will now be imparting those lessons to others. "It gave me just such a foundation of discipline and seeing something through." Krall adds, "It really served me for the rest of my life, in all aspects of my life."

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Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

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Competitive Edge Karate
Photo Courtesy: Jackson Rudolph

Team Competitive Edge, coached by Jackson Rudolph, Reid Presley, and Cole Presley, has become one of the premier teams in the sport in recent years. The team consistently takes home individual overall grand championships and they are the reigning U.S. Open ISKA Team Demonstration World Champions. Moving into the 2022 tournament season, they have made a huge move to deepen their roster and add seven junior competitors to the team. The new additions range from proven champions bringing their talents to the squad, some skilled workhorses who have previously joined the team for the Team Demo division, and some promising young stars who will be making their debut in the black belt division this year. Keep reading to learn more about each of the new additions (ordered alphabetically).

Gavin Bodiford

Gavin Bodiford

Photo Courtesy: Kellie Austin Bodiford via Facebook

Bodiford is twelve years old and hails from Lebanon, Tennessee, a product of Premier Martial Arts Lebanon (formerly known as Success Martial Arts Center), where the Competitive Edge coaches have all earned black belts. He has five years of martial arts experience and was the 2020-2021 ProMAC Southern Region Champion in four divisions. He also finished the 2021 NASKA season in the top ten for creative, musical, and extreme forms and weapons. Bodiford is one of the competitors who has stepped up for Competitive Edge in the past, joining the demonstration team to help them secure the 2021 U.S. Open ISKA World Championship.

Riley Claire Carlisle

RC Carlisle

Photo Courtesy: Mallory Parker Carlisle

Carlisle (pictured with coach Sammy Smith) is a 10-year-old rising star from Starkville, Mississippi who has been training for four years. In the underbelt division, she has won grand championships at the Battle of Atlanta and numerous regional events. She holds multiple divisional and grand championship titles from the ProMAC circuit, and has amassed over ninety divisional wins in recent years. She is moving into the black belt division in 2022 and looks to continue her winning ways.

Kodi Molina

Kodi Molina

Photo Courtesy: Priscilla Molina via Facebook

Molina is a 13-year-old world champion from San Antonio, Texas with 10 years of martial arts training under her belt. She has won many grand championship titles on the NASKA circuit, and has claimed world championships from NASKA, ISKA, ATA, and WKC. At the 2021 U.S. Open, she became the reigning ISKA world champion in 13 and under girls creative/musical/extreme weapons. She is a versatile competitor who can win with extreme bo or kama routines, performs beautiful traditional forms, and is a solid point fighter as well. She is an active member of her community and participates in a variety of leadership programs, making her a great role model for younger members of the team.

Michael Molina

Michael Molina

Photo Courtesy: Michael Molina via Instagram

"Super Bomb" is the 9-year-old brother of Kodi, who is a world champion in his own right. In his seven years of experience, he has already won a variety of titles across multiple leagues, including NASKA overall grand championships at the 2021 Battle of Atlanta and AmeriKick Internationals. Since he began training at the age of two, his regimen has included strength, speed, agility, and conditioning training at "Rojo Dojo", where a number of world champions and national contenders gather to train. He is known for his incredible performance ability, always putting on a show when he graces the stage.

Gavin Richmond

Gavin Richmond

Photo Courtesy: Bobby Benavides

Richmond is yet another world champion being added to the Competitive Edge roster. The 13-year-old from San Antonio has been training for five years and has accumulated several grand championship titles, including wins at prestigious events like the Diamond Nationals and U.S. Open. The young star is a well-rounded athlete, not only because he competes in a variety of divisions at sport karate tournaments, but he also finished in 7th place in the pentathlon at the 2021 AAU Junior Olympics which included the high jump, long jump, 100m hurdles, 1500m run, and shot put, resulting in him being named an All-American. He is currently recovering from a knee injury, but his high-flying routines will be back on the mat soon.

Madalynn Wiersma

Madalynn Wiersma

Photo Courtesy: Gabrielle Dunn

Wiersma (pictured with coach Gabrielle Dunn) is another rising star moving up from the underbelt division who is expected to make waves in the black belt division. She first moved up into the black belt ring at the WKC world championships, where she won her first world title. The 9-year-old Georgia native was the 2021 Underbelt Competitor of the Year for ProMAC and she secured underbelt grand championships at the Battle of Atlanta and U.S. Open this past year.

Elijah Williams

Williams is a 16 year old from Lebanon, Tennessee who trains at Premier Martial Arts Lebanon. His eight years of martial arts training has culminated in black belts in Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do. He is on an upward trend as a competitor as he has started breaking into the top four in his divisions, which are some of the most stacked on the NASKA circuit. Williams has been a great asset to Competitive Edge in the past, stepping up to fill in for team demonstration, such as in the world championship effort at the 2021 U.S. Open.

The Competitive Edge coaching staff told Black Belt that they are thrilled to take their roster to another level with these moves. They believe that these new players will create the perfect storm to win more overall grand championships now, strengthen the team demo, and build a great foundation for the future of the program.

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