The biggest stage of all

In October, Tiffany Cherney will have a unique opportunity.

Cherney, a youth martial artist will compete as part of Team USA in the World Karate/Kickboxing Commission World Championships from Oct. 4-9 to Dublin, Ireland.

Cherney,11, qualified for the world championships after winning three national titles and finishing third in another event at the national tournament in Detroit two weeks ago.

She’ll be competing in point sparring, continuous sparring and weapons-all of which she won gold in- and forms and is among the top four competitors for Team USA in each of those events.

“It feels great. It feels awesome,” Cherney said of qualifying. “Having fun and doing good, those are the two things I want to accomplish.”

Cherney, a student at Thunder Bay Martial Arts and New World Karate in Grayling, has been on the competitive martial arts circuit for about a year and has done well, particularly this year.

In February, Cherney took firsts in forms, continuous sparring and point sparring at a Great Lakes Karate Circuit event in Berkley. In March, she took firsts in forms and point sparring, a bronze in continuous sparring and a fourth in weapons at a Michigan Sport Karate Circuit event in Lapeer.

Later that month, she qualified for nationals after winning golds in sparring, continuous sparring, point sparring and traditional weapons as well as a bronze in Korean Forms at a WKC regional qualifier in Toledo, Ohio.

It’s an impressive haul for Cherney who has risen through the ranks in her respective events. She is currently ranked first in continuous sparring and point sparring, second in forms and seventh in weapons by the GLKC.

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking because you don’t know who’s going to show up really.You don’t know how it’s going to end up,” Cherney said. “I usually just talk with my friends (to stay calm) and we go over our forms and what we can do. We kind of judge each other and it’s kind of fun.”

The rankings are validation of how far Cherney has advanced since getting involved with martial arts a few years ago, but they also push her to consistently improve.

It’s fun, but it’s hard because you could move down at any minute. If someone were to get 9.999 every single time and I’m lower (I fall out of the spot),” Cherney said. “It’s hard to maintain the spot you’re already in. It gives you real competition.”

The world championships are still several months away, but until then Cherney will be busy honing her skills every day in some way. She’ll be particularly focused on her forms, which are judged based on how well she knows certain steps, stances and how enthusiastic she is among other criteria.

Forms will be important, but Cherney also appreciates the freedom that comes with sparring.

“When you’re doing forms and weapons, you just go up there, do your form and come back. They judge you on how you do different things,” she said. “When you fight, if you score a point, then that’s a point.”

Anyone wishing to donate to Cherney’s trip can visit Chemical Bank on M-32 or call 916-9448.

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.