FORT MILL -- Joshua Paxtor was just 3 years old when his parents first enrolled him in tae kwon do classes. His two older brothers, Carlos Jr. and Abraham, were already accomplished in the martial arts. Joshua earned his black belt last year at 7.
Joshua, a third-grader at Springfield Elementary School, has soaked up all that training like a sponge. He became a tae kwon do world champion June 27 when he won the world's top 10 competition for his age division. The competition was held in Little Rock, AR.
Joshua and his family live in Fort Mill. He and his brothers have trained at the Mr. Lopez ATA (American tae kwon do Association) School in Charlotte. They also received training
from Master P.J. Beauchamp.
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Dr. Carlos Paxtor, Joshua's father, employed a coy strategy prior to the competition in Arkansas: He didn't tell Joshua he was competing for a world championship.
"He had been competing a lot and winning first place," Dr. Paxtor said. ""I think for him it was just another competition. I didn't want to put too much pressure on him. He won, just like he had won all the others."
Joshua is still learning the magnitude of the achievement.
"He's starting to understand he is a world champion. He can't wait for his uniform to arrive," Joshua's father said. The uniform will read "World Champion" on the back of it.
Paxtor said his wife Elsee encouraged Carlos Jr. and Abraham to learn tae kwon do when they lived in Ohio several years ago. "She (Elsee) wanted them to learn to be focused on their studies and everything in their lives."
Later, the family moved to Florida where Carlos Jr. and Abraham really dedicated themselves to the sport. That dedication has stayed with them since they moved to Fort Mill more than two years ago.
Tae kwon do competition is done in three different divisions: forms, weapons and sparring. All three brothers are 2008 Triple Crown State Champions in North Carolina, having won all three divisions.
Joshua won the bronze medal in Weapons and Sparring at the World Championships and, of course, the gold medal in Forms.
Christian Suchite is the chief instructor at the Mr. Lopez ATA School in Charlotte on the corner of Hwys. 49 and 160. He has worked with Joshua for the past several months.
"He is very dedicated to his training. He trains every day and has the persistence to keep moving forward to overcome whatever comes in front of him," Suchite said.
"He is one of the top students I've seen. He's very committed to attaining his goal."
Joshua will have to set some new goals now that he is a world champion.
"Everyone has talked a lot about Joshua. He is like one of our leaders. Everyone looks up to him, not only in his physical abilities but emotionally as well. He looks you in the eye, shakes your hand and speaks when he is spoken to. And he's a famous person," Suchite said with a chuckle.
Springfield Elementary School Principal Scott Frattaroli echoes Suchite's comments.
"He's a good student and a hard worker. I know his teachers are very complimentary of his work ethic. I think the discipline he has learned from his training will serve him well," Frattaroli said.
Competitions have led to a lot of travel for the Paxtors. Carlos Jr. and Abraham have been to Korea and China to compete. Joshua has been to Orlando, Las Vegas, Houston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Atlanta and Virginia Beach, according to his dad.
The ATA describes itself as the premier North American organization dedicated to the martial arts discipline of tae kwon do.
Counting both the U.S. and worldwide, their organizations have over 1,500 independently owned and operated licensed schools and clubs, and are beginning to register more than 300,000 members.