Tonganoxie area martial arts students earn medals in Topeka
Rex Hutton left the Sunflower State Games in Topeka with an impressive ratio of students to medals in martial arts.
The instructor at Tonganoxie Martial Arts, 801 E. Fourth St., took eight students to Whitson Elementary School to compete against a field of roughly 300 martial arts athletes. Eight Tonganoxie natives left with either silver or gold medals.
The gold medalists automatically qualified for the State Games of America on Aug. 4 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Mike Fare, Sierra Nitz, Tori Carey, Cole Carey, Caden Searcy and Thomas Atkins took home gold medals July 14 in Topeka. Mike's brother, Martin Fare, and Curtis Campbell, earned silver medals.
"They all listen well and have good parents," said Hutton. "They're not smart-alecs. You have to have courtesy and integrity and be polite here."
Hutton has been teaching martial arts, kickboxing and cage fighting in Tonganoxie for 35 years. He has about 30 participants at his school. It cost $50 per month for his class.
"A lot of kids come to my school because I've been around since the dinosaurs," Hutton, 61, joked. "But our reputation is usually what stays with us. Any tournament we go to, we win. We have about a 95 percent win-loss ratio here."
Hutton stressed the importance of winning, but said during competitions like the ones in Topeka and Colorado Springs, winning shouldn't be the only thought on the athletes' minds.
"In martial arts, you want someone with a good heart," Hutton said. "Winning's good, but I have to be able to take any kid and put confidence into that person. When you put that white uniform on and come to class, you're earning your respect here."
Hutton started fighting in the Marine Corps in 1964. An unfortunate circumstance occurred on Dec. 5, 1975, when Hutton was working on a power line in Kansas City, Kan.
"We were working on it and I got electrocuted," Hutton said. "I had surgery at KU. The plastic surgeons told me I couldn't play sports anymore because of my injuries. But after you get hurt like that, you have to have something to do."
Remarkably, Hutton pursued professional kickboxing after the surgery. He stuck with it for 10 years.
"My left hand was burned, but I had two good feet," Hutton said.
Hutton said he stressed perseverance to students in his class.
Hutton mentioned Jessica Carlson as an up-and-coming Tonganoxie tae kwon do athlete who will be difficult to beat. Carlson will be a freshman in high school in the fall.
The most memorable story Hutton told about Carlson was at last year's State Games of America in Colorado Springs.
"She actually got disqualified for too many kicks to the head," Hutton said. "Basically, they DQ'ed her for too much power. That's unheard of. I protested and said, 'Hey, she has head gear on.' People in the crowd were booing because she lost the fight."
Hutton cited martial arts as being beneficial for everyone, especially athletes.
"Right now, some of the Kansas City Chiefs are even taking martial arts training," Hutton said.