LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — The U.S. Taekwondo Institute in Clermont is hosting a martial arts summer camp that has brought together young athletes from across Latin America.

What You Need To Know

  • U.S. Tae Kwon Do Institute hosted a week-long summer Olympic-style training camp

  • Taekwondo athletes from Bolivia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the U.S. are attending

  • It took six months to organize due to the pandemic and other travel expenses

Anibal Cruz and Jey Marcano organized a week-long summer Olympic-style training camp at the Central Florida studio for taekwondo athletes from Bolivia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the U.S. 

But Cruz said because of the global pandemic, cost of travel expenses and other obstacles, it took them six months to organize it. 

Jose Olmo, 18, said it was an eye-opening experience. He is preparing to lead the Puerto Rico taekwondo team through the Youth Pan American Games qualifiers. He traveled from New York to take part in the summer training camp.

"It’s very educational learning about different cultures," Olmo said.

The athletes say they are also learning new techniques.

“What I learned from them, is they’re very aggressive in their fighting style," Olmo said.

Other than trying to avoid their strikes, Olmo said there were other issues he faced when he trained with them.

“I don’t speak much Spanish, they’re mainly Spanish-speaking," Olmo said.

Cruz said they all speak the same language on the mat and find other ways to get along.

“Everyone is playing games together, finding ways to communicate and interact even though there is a language barrier," Cruz said. "Even now with the sparring and everything, everybody is finding ways to communicate, and seeing their smiles as they train is a long time coming.”

Cruz said they next plan to hold the international training camp in Bolivia.