Roseville black belt finds martial arts school at school

Erick Aguilar took Taekwondo at ARC; now he’ll compete in the Sacramento Invitational
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Erick Aguilar took up self-defense at the age of 6 while growing up in Mexico. On Saturday, he’ll compete in the Sacramento Invitational Taekwondo Championship at American River College.

It’s a road that leads to the U.S. Open and, potentially, the U.S. Olympic Trials. The top two finishers in each class earn paid registration to the U.S. Open from Feb. 21-24 in Las Vegas.

“If I win, there’s a chance I might get a shot at the national team,” says Aguilar, now 21 and a resident of Roseville for about three years. “It’s a big deal.”

Aguilar studied several disciplines as a youngster, including boxing and Muy Thai kickboxing. He eventually moved to California, and he graduated from San Juan High School in 2008.

Aguilar enrolled at American River College and was looking for a new martial arts school. He says he found one by “luck.” Aguilar spotted an on-campus Taekwondo program, and he met Grandmaster Clinton Robinson of Robinson’s Taekwondo fame.

“By some chance, I saw the Taekwondo program,” Aguilar says. “I said, ‘I’m gonna give it a try.’ It just grew on me.”

The on-campus program since has been canceled, but Aguilar has been a student of Robinson’s since. Aguilar now studies most of the time at Robinson’s in Roseville. He’ll compete in black belt sparring at the Sacramento Invitational in either the featherweight or lightweight division. Aguilar weighs “in the 140-pound range,” he says.

“Grandmaster Robinson gave me some confidence and told me it’s going to be a good experience whether I win or lose. It’s a good opportunity for me,” Aguilar says. “People say I’m good. I just think I need a lot of work still. You’re never perfect. There’s something you can get better at.”

Aguilar says he practices technique and skills every day, “even at home.”

He says an interesting part of the tournament will be the electronic scoring system. Chest protectors will be electronic, and all black belts are required to purchase a foot patch with sensors. Judges will count only head shots.

“Every time you kick the chest part, it will give you a point,” Aguilar says. “It takes judging out of the question. With that option, there’s no way you can base your faith on that, that they cheated or anything.”

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What: Martial arts competition featuring local, state, national and international champions. The top finishers qualify for the U.S. Open and can advance to the U.S. Olympic Trials.
When and where: 9 a.m. Saturday, running throughout the day at American River College, 4700 College Oak Dr., in Sacramento.
Tickets: $12 at the door for ages 13 and up, $10 for ages 12 and under. Parking is free.
Information: Call (916) 332-6979 or visit