David and Goliath: The Taekwondo Story

Story/Video posted December 7, 2015 in Sports by Caitlin DePaolis


STATE COLLEGE, PA -- At first glance, it is difficult to imagine that 5-foot-1 Akeena Lofters is a longtime and dedicated member of Penn State’s Taekwondo club. Lofters, surrounded by fellow members who, at heights of 5-foot-9 and above, tower over her, delivers kicks that make thwacks against the practice equipment.

Lofters started practicing Taekwondo when she lived in Jamaica. She began learning the martial art at the urging of her father as a way to protect herself.  She says she eventually fell in love with the sport, and traveled to the United States for many tournaments.

She says she enjoys Taekwondo despite the challenges that come with fighting  against opponents that are two times larger than she is. There are different weight classes in Taekwondo, from light to heavyweight, and there are advantages and disadvantages to being in each.

Once she moved to the United States, however, Lofters stopped practicing the sport because there were not any places for her to do so in Philadelphia, where she lives. But a few years later, Lofters studied abroad in South Korea, where she joined a Taekwondo club which reignited her passion for the sport.

Penn State's Taekwondo members wear a variety of gear for sparring, which is when they practice fighting each other. The protective gear is designed to protect themselves and the person that they are against.

At Penn State, Lofters is a member of Taekwondo club’s executive board. She trains five times a week, in addition to weight training that she participates in after practice.

Lofters is a middleweight. She uses her small stature to increase her speed against her opponents. While her reach is not as far as many of the people that she fights against, she makes up for that in moving as quickly as she can to gain points.

Taekwondo practices

Taekwondo practices for most of the week. The practices that they run have a variety of activities designed to increase their speed and stamina.