Church’s ATA Martial Arts instructor earns two world titles


It’s safe to say Tim Conkel will always remember his 27th birthday.

That was the day — Nov. 11 — when the martial arts instructor at Church’s ATA Martial Arts in Encinitas and Carmel Valley scored the third perfect score (50 out of 50) in history and placed first in the Musical Weapons category of the World Amateur Kickboxing Organization (WAKO) World Championships.

Conkel, who has taught at Church’s ATA since January, also placed first in the Musical Forms category in the competition held Nov. 2 through Nov. 12 in Budapest, Hungary.

“I felt as though I was extremely well prepared and definitely thought it was a possibility,” Conkel said of his wins. “I viewed myself as a favorite going in. It was nice to be able to pull out the victories.”

More than 60 countries were represented at the competition, where Conkel performed tricks like clean flipping and spinning to songs such as a cover of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.”

Conkel, who grew up in Georgia and moved to North San Diego County in January, said he has been on the U.S. team for two years, but it was a three-year process to make the 30-member team. He previously competed on the team in Italy last year.

Because the U.S. team can only send one representative in the Musical Forms and Musical Weapons categories, Conkel was representing the entire country during his routines.

Although Conkel — who has four black belts, including a fourth degree in Taekwondo — is 27, he was considered a “veteran” in his category, which hosted competitors aged 18 to 41.

He said he was the second oldest person in one of his categories.

“It feels good to be the old guy and still winning,” he quipped.

Since returning to San Diego from the competition, Conkel said his daily grind of practicing and motivating others will not stop.

“There’s kind of this shift in gears where a lot of the energy I was spending training myself after classes, I’m just going to put that into the classes I’m teaching right now,” he said.