WARREN — A Trumbull County sheriff deputy used the beach area at Mosquito Lake State Park to help him become a world martial arts champion.
Deputy John Barhoover, a graduate of Lakeview High School and Hiram College, took first place in the traditional beach poomsae category at the fourth annual Lents Taekwondo Worldwide Online Sports Poomsae Open 2021. Poomsae is a taekwondo term meaning a defined pattern of defense-and-attack motions.
For half a decade, Barhoover, an Air Force veteran who was deployed to Iraq, has been training under masters Justin Taylor of Canfield and Darrin Warren of Fowler, who used to have a martial arts school in Champion. Barhoover said the taekwondo experience has “definitely helped him” in his deputy job.
“Any type of combative sport or martial arts is one heck of a workout,” Barhoover said. “It helps with cardio, balance and patience. My only wish is that I would have found this sport earlier in life.”
As a deputy, Barhoover, 35, has worked building security at various locales including courtrooms for the last several years. He now is assigned to the civil division at the Jobs and Family Services center on North Park Avenue.
Barhoover said he submitted videos for a prestigious international competition in April that was hosted by the former Ms. Denmark and her sister, master Lisa Lents and master Edina Lents.
“The Lents are both huge in the Kukkiwon (the world’s Taekwondo headquarters and governing body) in South Korea,” Barhoover said.
He said this is the second time he has medaled in this competition. Last year, he won a bronze medal in traditional poomsae forms.
This time, he won gold in the traditional beach poomsae and a silver medal in creative poomsae. Barhoover also is a back-to-back national champion, taking gold medals in the AAU national taekwondo tournament in 2020 and 2021, winning a total of eight medals.
Barhoover said he thanks his wife Michelle for supporting him in his continued martial arts journey. He said his biggest goal in the martial arts now is to own his own “dojang” (gym).
“When I retire to hope to instruct kids as well as disabled veterans,” he said. “Being a veteran myself, I see a huge advantage for bringing this art form to this area for our younger generation of vets.”
Barhoover said the sport of martial arts can be taught at one’s own pace.
“This would be perfect for any veteran of any age,” he said.
Barhoover said he started competing with Taylor three years ago at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in Columbus.
“That’s where I won two gold medals in sparring and poomsae,” Barhoover said.
Warren, a Fowler resident who has been training Barhoover for five years, said the deputy always has been one of his most dedicated students.
“John has wanted to learn all the history about taekwondo, and he strives for perfection,” Warren said about the new world champion. “He began with me and followed me over to master Taylor’s school.”
Taylor, who owns the Junior Taekwondo School on U.S. Route 224 in Boardman Center and lives in Canfield, said Barhoover’s progress and enthusiasm in the martial arts has been “epic.”
“It’s very rewarding to see someone to put themselves out there. I think he beat competitors from Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Japan. I think it’s pretty cool because you know Korea is where taekwondo got started. I’m very proud of him,” Taylor said.
He said because of COVID-19, Barhoover had to submit videos of himself doing his martial arts thing on a beach.
“So master Darrin Warren and John went out to the beach at Mosquito Lake to get the videos,” Taylor said. “That was something that our local beach beat out those exotic locations”
Warren said the conditions at the beach were a little cool, but “obviously, it was worth it.”
Learning his lessons well from his grand masters, Barhoover said he has grown fond of teaching the younger generations.
“I really enjoy teaching the kids and watching them develop and compete in this sport,” Barhoover said.