Community, Springfield

Hanmadang: Competition, creativity meet on the mat

By Ryland Bickley
The Chronicle 

SPRINGFIELD – Hanmadang is a Korean word with an English translation close to “festival” or “all are welcome.” It’s also the namesake for the 2024 Oregon State Hanmadang, a nonprofit martial arts tournament that ran Friday-Saturday in Springfield’s Bob Keefer Center. Competitors entered from across Oregon and beyond to participate in a variety of non-sparring activities. 

Promoted as the track-and-field of the martial arts world, the event lived up to its billing. Much like a track meet, the center often had multiple events taking place at once, with seven stages available as some of the best martial artists in the area, young and old, competed. 

“It’s a lot of fun. It brings the community together and it brings up people from other areas to be able to showcase what’s around here,” said Kristian Villa, an event volunteer and Springfield resident. A number of local martial arts schools participated, including Springfield’s East-West Kung Fu. 

The tournament was the fifth iteration of Oregon State Hanmadang, directed by Tim Greathouse and managed by Lada Korol. Greathouse is the owner of Eugene’s MooDo Taekwondo and the Oregon president of the U.S. Taekwondo Committee. 

Greathouse received a letter of recognition for his contributions to the development of Taekwondo. It was presented by Grandmaster Sang Chul Lee, the Oregon State Hanmadang’s special guest. Lee was the U.S. National Olympic Taekwondo team’s first head coach from 1979-88 along with many career achievements, including being the founder of the U.S. Open Taekwondo Hanmadang. 

Hanmadang director Tim Greathouse receives a letter of recognition from, U.S. Open Taekwondo Hanmadang founder Grandmaster Sang Chul Lee.

A former 13-time national champion in Korea, Lee moved to the United States in 1975, where he became an integral figure in taekwondo’s emergence as a worldwide force. 

“My grammar is not that good,” Lee said while speaking during Saturday’s competition. “And I spend more time for taekwondo rather than studying English. So I think if some Korean-American does not speak good English, believe them. They are good in taekwondo!” 

Lee spoke to what drew him to the event, and stated he came to support Greathouse and the culture of taekwondo. 

“Taekwondo is the best form of all of martial arts,” he said. “However, taekwondo Olympic Games are only a small part of taekwondo. But taekwondo is more than just fighting – taekwondo teaches discipline and respect and helping others … That’s why it happens to be so popular.”

Lee looks for specific results when watching competitors.

“Cooperation, and help each other and learn from each other,” he said. “Because there are many different kinds of martial arts: taekwondo, karate, kung fu, jujitsu, judo. So many. There will be different movements, but they could learn from each other.” 

That spirit of cooperation was alive and well. Greathouse served as the emcee of the event but he also was a board-holder, organizing, encouraging, high-fiving, and answering every question that came his way. 

“What I really appreciate about Tim is his involvement with kids – without a device, they’re engaged off their phones and off their computers. It’s so healthy,” said Jeff Lozar, owner of Eugene’s Livewire Electric. 

Loud cracks resonated through the center as contestants split boards in two with flying side kicks. In other corners of the room, there were shouts from competitions, whirling swords and bo-staffs in the weapons category, and music blaring as younger contestants synced their performances to songs – it was “May the Fourth,” and one trio dressed in costumes gave a Star Wars-inspired performance set to Haddaway’s 1993 hit “What Is Love.” 

There was plenty of inspiration from the galaxy far, far away, from vendors dressed in costume to various Star Wars decorations placed throughout the center. The event was a mix of competition, creativity, and shared interests, highlighting Oregon’s vibrant martial arts culture. 

“Your city is beautiful, this venue, this house – this great house,” said Lee with a smile as he concluded his speech at the opening ceremony. 



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