Karate kid takes martial arts talents abroad

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Naugatuck High School senior Neil Mascola, fifth from left, with the rest of the Connecticut contingent that traveled to England for the International Tang Soo Do competition recently. CONTRIBUTED
Naugatuck High School senior Neil Mascola recently traveled across the pond to showcase his martial arts skills.

Mascola competed at the International Tang Soo Do Championships in Cardiff Wales, England. In his 12th year as a student at USA Martial Arts in Naugatuck, Mascola is a 3rd degree black belt and the captain of the “Demo Team” a demonstration unit that tours Connecticut performing at fairs, schools and community events.

Mascola was part of a contingent of 14 people from Connecticut that traveled to England for the competition.

“The Tang Soo Do tournament was a huge success. … We had over 1,000 competitors this year from across the globe including the Untied States, England, Poland, Germany and Greece.” Tang Soo Do Federation spokesperson Master Nancy Robinson said.

This is not the first trip abroad for Mascola who has traveled to Amsterdam, Poland and China for competitions.

“It’s the most favorite thing I’ve done in my whole life,” Mascola said. “The disciplined nature of martial arts has taught me about respect and to set goals for myself.”

Mascola said martial arts teach the values of setting goals and then working to achieve them.

“It certainly has built a strong character in me at a very young age and I feel I’m a better person for it,” Mascola said

Several Connecticut students brought home medals from the competition including Ken Buckley of Naugatuck, who took second in the weapons and a second place finish in the chil sung with a third place showing in the sparring.

“Congratulations to all our competitors,” Robinson said. “The goal of the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation is to teach and perpetuate the study of the traditional Korean martial art Tang Soo Do.”

The next International Martial Arts trip for the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation will be an open karate tournament in Hamilton, Bermuda in November. The group also is also planning a trip to Italy in the spring of 2012.

Mascola is working towards his 4th degree master black belt.

“But I have a few years left of competing before I think about that and I’m really looking forward to next year visiting Rome and the Coliseum,” Mascola said.