Jaylen Cornish, or as he’s known to his buddies, “J,” recently earned his fourth consecutive National Taekwondo Title, bringing home a first-place gold medal in sparring during the National Taekwondo Championships held at the Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
And Cornish did so in an undefeated fashion, with his father Bruce, his brother Kyle and Master Aaron Morris in attendance.
But you’d never know this marked the fourth consecutive national title in as many years for Jaylen, beginning with his first gold medal win in 2011 at age 13.
Why? Because he’s a humble kid.
“He is a class act at such a young age and is just an awesome kid, who shows awesome sportsmanship,” Bruce told the REmindER. “He tends to make friends before each fight with his competitors, and in his words, ‘When it’s time to fight, then we fight, then we can be friends again.’
“And before, during and after a match he shows little emotion.”
Jaylen, a sophomore at Millville Senior High School, trains under the direction of World Champion Master Bobby Leach at Olympic Style Karate in Voorhees.
“I watch in amazement at home while he is outside in the gym kicking the heavy bag for hours, all by himself and refusing to have anyone watch him train,” Bruce said. “I then glance at him as he quietly returns to his room, where he does nearly 150 crunches, and no less then 75 pushups every night. I recall getting upset at times, because there were school nights and it was nearly midnight, and he was still upstairs in his room training. He used to always tell me that he has to train longer and harder than the competitors he may have to face. He’s a self motivated training machine.”
Jaylen’s interest in the sport was piqued by a different Bruce: famed martial artist and actor Bruce Lee.
“My dad and I used to always watch Bruce Lee movies and my dad always would tell me that Bruce Lee was the greatest of all time,” Jaylen said. “My dad bought me a series of Bruce Lee movies and while watching the movies, I would fall asleep every night watching and studying his moves. I was amazed at his kicks, his foot speed, and his flexibility, but mainly the calmness he displayed while fighting, which is why I am so calm while fighting.”
Upon his introduction to the sport, Jaylen became enamored with the training aspect and the hard work needed to excel. From a different perspective, his father keenly observed his son’s natural ability in 2010.
“I remember being amazed at his foot speed, his flexibility, and the power of his kicks,” Bruce said, of his son’s introduction into Taekwondo. “After three months of training, I enrolled him in his very first competition at Rutgers University. Jaylen weighed only 98 pounds, and was the only white belt (beginner) in the entire competition. He won all three fights including the demolition of a higher belt opponent that was 167 pounds. He ended up winning two first-place trophies in Olympic Sparring and Board Breaking.”
Awards and accomplishments aside, the training and commitments have made all of Jaylen’s success that much more meaningful and special.
Upon completing his goal of finishing undefeated at nationals Jaylen noticed his father become very emotional.
“He just grabbed me and we just held onto each other,” Jaylen said. “My dad just kept saying he was so proud of me and how much he loved me. It was an unforgettable and very special moment between me and my dad.”
As for the future, Jaylen has his sights set on Junior Olympics and then moving on to compete at the USA Team Trials in an effort to become a part of the USA Taekwondo team.
“He is self motivated and has future goals he wants to achieve,” Bruce said.
A quick look at Jaylen’s 2014 results:
• March 8 — Gold medal in Olympic Sparring at the Mid-Atlantic State Championship; silver in Points Sparring.
• March 30 — USA All Korean Yong In Taekwondo Championship in Colonia, NJ, Gold in Olympic Sparring in his blue belt division, then moved up to the Red/Black division, and also won gold in that division.
• April 26 — Gold in Olympic Sparring and gold in Points Sparring at the USA State Championships, held at Rider University, Lawrenceville
• May 4 — 6-foot first-place trophy at the USA Taekwondo Friendship Tournament held at JFK High school in Patterson
• May 17 — Gold in Olympic Sparring and silver in Points Sparring at the Pennsylvania State USA Taekwondo Championships
• June 8 — Gold in Olympic Sparring and Gold in Points Sparring at another NJ State Championship Taekwondo tournament in North Jersey.
• July 3 — GOLD in Olympic Sparring at the 2014 National Taekwondo Competition in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.