Northwest Black Belt Academy athletes earn national taekwondo honors

Last month, athletes from the Northwest Black Belt Academy located in Lynnwood traveled to compete in the USA Taekwondo Nationals tournament in Salt Lake City, and the AAU Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resulting in four national champions and and several other medal winners.

Issak Whitworth of Renton won gold in the Senior Male 18-32 year old Flyweight (54.1 Kg – 58Kg) bracket at the AAU Taekwondo Nationals tournament July 2-7. Whitworth is also an instructor at Northwest Black Belt Academy.

Montana Miller of Lynnwood won her bracket at the USA Taekwondo Nationals tournament in the Cadet 12-14-year-old Fin Weight class.

Akilah Franklin of Seattle, competing in the Junior 15-17-year-old Middleweight bracket (59.1 Kg – 63 Kg), also took home a championship medal.

Ellie Bezanson of Edmonds went into her bracket at the Nationals tournament as the number-one seed, but fell in the championship match to a competitor from California. However, Bezanson was selected to compete on the USA Junior National Team at the World Championships held in Hammamet, Tunisia in April of this year.

Northwest Black Belt Academy, which features students from Lynnwood and Edmonds, as well as other area communities, has been located in Lynnwood for four years. The academy is run by Joe Whitworth, who has been instructing Taekwondo for nearly 30 years and is also the father of Issak Whitworth.

The academy offers a variety of classes for all ages and skill levels, but the competition group is an invitation-only program comprised of athletes who have shown themselves to be not only skilled taekwondo athletes, but who do well in school and are well-behaved at home. The competition team is what Joe Whitworth describes as a high-performance group. The athletes must be committed and often are working six days a week, for at least two hours a day. The team just returned from a two-week training trip to Korea.

“We have a program that’s pretty demanding of the kids and their schedule, but for some reason, they like it.” Joe Whitworth said with a laugh. “So I have to keep educating myself and keep getting better as a coach.”

The team will be traveling to Richmond, B.C. Sept. 14-16 for the Canadian Open and then to Las Vegas Oct. 13-18 for the Presidents Cup.

If you’d like more information about Northwest Black Belt Academy and their classes, visit or call 425-245-8651.

— Story and photos by Scott Williams

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