BELEN — Last month, a Belen woman competed in a martial arts tournament that has put her on the road to the Olympics.
Emily Hoswell, a special needs educational assistant at Belen Middle School, placed second in two events at the Arizona Karate Championships and National Qualifier in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Saturday, Feb. 16.
The event is the state championship as well as a national qualifier, a first step in qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Korea.
Hoswell placed second in kata and sparring in the black belt category for women ages 35-44. Kata is a prescribed, choreographed set of offensive and defensive moves against an imaginary opponent.
“This qualifies me to move on to nationals. It’s very exciting,” Hoswell said. “To take on another challenge and do well, especially since I was nervous knowing how much different this organization is compared to the one I am a part of, the United States Association of Martial Artists.”
The Scottsdale competition is sanctioned by the World Karate Federation, the largest international governing body of sport karate and the only karate organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The 2019 National Championships and Team Trials in karate will be held July 9-14 in Chicago.
“When you set your goals and stay focused, work hard, there’s no telling what you can accomplish,” she said. “My first goal was to earn my black belt. After achieving that, I worked to better myself in competition, and have now been on the USAMA’s National Team three years and a two-time Black Belt Women triple crown winner, ranked first in kata, sparring and weapons.”
For 13 years, Hoswell has practiced shorin-ryu, an Okinawan style of martial arts and one of the oldest styles of karate.
“It’s funny. My parents tried to enroll me when I was 6 or 7 and I just cried,” Hoswell says with a laugh.
Years later, she took a karate class to fulfill a physical education course when she was enrolled at the University of New Mexico. After leaving UNM, she continued training at Jim Hawkes Karate in Albuquerque.
“I kept doing it because I enjoyed it, liked the physicality,” she said. “especially, as a woman, knowing how to defend myself if I need to. I like the confidence it gives me.”
Hoswell has a third-degree black belt in shorin-ryu, which has 10 levels.
“The highest I know is an eighth-degree black belt,” she said.
Hoswell said while it’s still a long way to go to the Olympics, she went into the Scottsdale competition with high hopes.
“I’m definitely looking forward to a new challenge. After every competition, no matter how it goes, my instructor always asks two things — Did you have fun? Did you learn something?
“The main thing is to have this new experience and be able to say at least I tried.”
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.