While the student body was settling into the rhythm of the semester, UH engineering doctoral candidate and alumna Sandra Geffert (2003 MSME, 2001 BSME) was competing for international titles at the World Kickboxing Championships in Basle, Switzerland. During the six-day trip, Geffert competed in seven events. In Chinese soft style kata and open forms, Geffert took the gold, and she won silver in tae kwon do forms and a bronze in team forms.
“Open forms is like freestyle in that you make up choreography, blend styles and bring out the more artistic side,” Geffert said.
As a teacher for a number of the younger students there, Geffert said being present for their success was the pinnacle of her trip.
“My teammates did unbelievably well,” Geffert said. “There was one point where two groups I’d been working with were competing against each other. There was one group of five girls doing soft style and a team of two boys doing weapon chorography. The boys came in first, and the girls were second. It was neat to see so many of our students on the podium at once. Watching them do so well was my highlight.”
In addition, Geffert attained a personal goal with her win in Chinese soft style kata.
“Winning my gold is soft style was a close second as far as trip highlights,” Geffert said. “I’ve pulled silver three years in a row, so I was trying to shoot for the gold. At the time, I was studying a lot for my qualifying exam because it’s a bit intimidating. The day after I took the exam, I flew to New York City and trained with Sifu Karl Romain and Matt Lipedius. I had a tough weekend start and kicked it into gear for about six weeks running, fighting and practicing kata, which is very similar to the way an Olympic athlete would train.”
While training for the competition Geffert, who is currently working on her doctoral degree in mechanical engineering, was preparing for her qualifying exam to continue her doctoral research.
“Ironically, I didn’t think I’d do very well this year because I felt somewhat unprepared. I took a six-month hiatus to prepare for my qualifying exam, so I was just hoping for fun this year. I didn’t expect to win anything, but this was my best world competition yet. I would like to thank my coach, Master Johnny Peavey, for encouraging me to compete one last time and go out with a world title in soft style.”
Though her personal achievements on the floor were impressive, particularly considering her circumstances, Geffert’s focus is still on her students.
“These kids are absolutely amazing,” Geffert said. “They put in the hours and the dedication, and it’s fun to be a part of it. There are some students I’ve helped train since they were four. One won her first gold medal this year. It’s an honor to be a part of it. It’s neat to be able to pass the tradition on.”