November 11, 2018
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  • In mid-July, Jennifer Herzog will become the first deaf competitor ever at the Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championships.
    Photo courtesy of Terri Turner/Two ShutterBugs Photography
    In mid-July, Jennifer Herzog will become the first deaf competitor ever at the Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championships.
  • In mid-July, Jennifer Herzog will become the first deaf competitor ever at the Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championships.
    Photo courtesy of Terri Turner/Two ShutterBugs Photography
    In mid-July, Jennifer Herzog will become the first deaf competitor ever at the Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championships.

Arnold Resident Joins U.S. Eskrima Team Competing At Worlds In Hawaii

Judy Tacyn
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June 27, 2018

Jennifer Herzog has a vivid way of describing Eskrima, a Filipino martial arts sport and the national sport of the Philippines.

“[Eskrima is] similar to dancing, like ballet, only deadly,” said Herzog. “We as Eskrimadors have to learn how to use a weapon and move around gracefully and smoothly at the same time.”

The fighting sport utilizes sticks, knives, staffs and other bladed weapons. After winning four gold medals and two silver medals at the U.S. Nationals, 28-year-old Arnold resident Jennifer Herzog earned a spot to represent the United States at the Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championships in mid-July in Maui, Hawaii.

Herzog will become the first deaf competitor ever at the world tournament.

Already a student and taekwondo instructor at Kick Connection (a martial arts school whose courses are in taekwondo, Eskrima and cardio kickboxing) for more than 12 years, Herzog started training in Eskrima just two years ago.

Her favorite aspect of the sport is learning how to handle different weapons. Competitors wear a black uniform to practice and compete. For contact sparring, competitors also wear a body protector, head protector, heavy gloves and arm pads.

Herzog said she trains twice a week with her team for two to three hours each, and on her own three to four times per week, but she expects to train much more during the month leading up to the world championships.

Carlos Patalinghug is the owner of Kick Connection, an Eskrima grandmaster, and East Coast director of the U.S. National team. Patalinghug communicates with Herzog using American Sign Language.

“Jennifer’s preparation is no different than any other competitor,” he said. “In fact, in some ways, hearing-impaired athletes are better prepared because they are inherently more visually observant.”

Herzog agreed that being deaf doesn’t affect her ability to compete. “Eskrima is a physically demanding sport and I am able bodied,” she said. “In fact, people consider deafness itself is an inability for sports, while I consider it an advantage. I can’t hear at all, and that heightens my other senses, especially vision to watch my surroundings, and absorbs the teachings through observation.”

“She reads the coaches’ signals,” added Patalinghug, “and when she steps in that ring, she’s on fire!”

Does Herzog have any advice for others? “Don’t let any physical challenges to stop you or your dreams. You can find a way to overcome the obstacles and you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to make it happen,” said Herzog.

“I have seen people who are physically challenged doing complex patterns (a series of movements) or breaking a board in taekwondo,” she added. “Anything is possible.”

Herzog is accepting donations to offset her travel expenses at www.rallyme.com.

Update: Herzog won three gold medals, two silver and one bronze at the WEKAF World Championships.


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