Breaking boards and breaking barriers. Competitors from around the region showed off their martial arts skills this weekend.

The 20th annual Great Lakes Open Taekwondo Championship took place at Penn State Behrend on Saturday. Competitors from as far as Canada used their precise techniques to showcase their best skills.

“It is a traditional martial art from Korea. It’s one of the most popular martial arts in the world,” said Justin Lazarz, headmaster, Park’s Taekwondo Academy. “A lot of places don’t do tournaments anymore. So we just like to keep the spirit alive and keep everyone coming in.”

Judge scoring consists of balance, presentation, and spirit. Competitors range from 4 years old to 75.

“It means something different to everyone. Some people like the spiritual side of it. Some people like more of a competition, but it’s something for everyone,” said Lazarz.

“When we go out there, it just feels awesome because it feels like you’re nowhere you have ever been before,” said Carson Allshouse, student, Family Martial Arts. “You just want to do your best.”

“People work so hard all year long and all their lives for stuff like this. I think it’s a good opportunity for them to show what they can do. I think its a good thing to show their self improvement over the years,” said Lazarz.

One competitor specializes in sparring and has taken his skills to Florida to compete at a national level.

“I really like Taekwondo. The sport is so nice, so fun,” said Yasseen Al-Garawi, sparring competitor, student, Park’s Martial Arts Academy. “That’s my noise cancellation for me, blocks out everything, and I can focus on especially sparring.”

14-year-old Al-Garawi makes it a priority to love his opponents during tournaments and has advice for those who are competing.

“Follow your dream. That’s what I got to say, follow your dream. My dream is Taekwondo,” said Al-Garawi. “Do what you got to do and have fun with it.”