Students of Master Marr's Taekwon-do in Shaker Heights, Ohio got to show off for friends and family this past Saturday, at their Demonstration and Doughnuts event. The dojang was filled to capacity as thirty students, ages 4 through 40s, demonstrated basic techniques, patterns, sparring, and board-breaking. After each student was presented with a trophy for their hard work, which included extra practice outside of class, everyone gathered for doughnuts and cider. Based on initial, extremely positive feedback, this may become an annual, or semi-annual, event!
On Saturday, January 17, 2015, Aliso Hills Taekwon-do held a Black Belt promotion event with 8 students testing for their 1st dan black belt and 4 students testing for their 2nd dan black belt. Aliso Hills Taekwon-do owner, Master Paul D' Ambrosio was joined by Guest Examiner, Master Dawn-Marie Sardinas, Master Jessica Sabetian, and Hapkido Master Edward Bussey along with Master Brad Milinski and Instructor Shaun Hughes.
Congratulations to the following students who through hard work and perseverance achieved their 2nd dan black belt: Sam Kechejian, Baxter Bartlett, Mitchell Law and Ethan Strunk. Congratulations to the following students who worked tirelessly and showed indomitable spirit to achieve their 1st dan black belt: Kielly Reeve, Emily Shaw, Nika Mahdavi, Luke Flinn, Mustafa Afzal, Sally Bartlett, Beverly Harnden and Aaron Santillan.
We were very fortunate to have two mother-son groups testing together: Mrs. Sally Bartlett and her son Baxter Bartlett, and Mrs. Beverly Harnden and her son Aaron Santillan. This was truly a memorable experience for them all!
In November of 2014, Duncan Bayless-Marr tested for his Junior 2nd Dan, following in the footsteps of his parents, Master James Marr, 6th Dan, and Master Elaine Bayless, 4th Dan, and his sister, Amelia Bayless-Marr, 2nd Dan. The family had relocated to Ohio the previous year, which interrupted Duncan's training and delayed his 2nd Dan test. But no sooner had he caught up with his sister than she was promoted once again. Amelia turned 16 in December, the minimum age for an Adult 2nd Dan, so at January's promotion test, Amelia once again demonstrated her skill (including a sparring round with her brother) and was granted a fully black 2nd Dan belt. The family lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio and together run Master Marr's Taekwon-do. While James Marr is the Master Instructor and the name on the door, his wife takes charge of the Mighty Lions program for the youngest students, and both teenagers assist with classes when schoolwork allows
Everyone at Glen Ridge Taekwon-do was pleased to hold an exceptional year-end testing this December. Judges included Master Mark Nathanson, Master James Marr, and Master Anna Gong, as well as a particularly honored visit from Grandmaster S.J. Kim.
Among the more than 75 test candidates who ranged in age from 4 years up through adults, Abby Rufino and Sebastian Jackson earned their Junior 1st Dan, Michael Ortiz earned his 2nd Dan, and school instructors Anthony Cipriano and Bethany Mar earned their 3rd Dans. Black belts of all levels, including Junior Black Belts, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Black Belts performed interim exams, demonstrating skills they have learned since earning their current degree, and even Master Meany joined in with a demonstration that impressed the crowd.
Asheville Sun Soo Tae Kwon Do (Asheville, NC) held another high-energy testing earlier this December. By personal invitation from Master Morris, Asheville Sun Soo was honored to be visited by 7th degree Master Mark Nathanson as primary guest judge. Master Nathanson is a long time student of Grandmaster Kim (TKDI founder and president). Testing took place in two parts over two days: Part one was Friday night for Mighty Tigers and white and white-yellow belts (all ages) and part two was Saturday, late morning, for yellow belts and above. Prior to Saturday's part of testing, Master Nathanson taught an excellent sparring strategy class for the Sun Soo black belts. Additionally, we were joined by 4th degree Master Dan Bourelle, from Wilmington, NC.
Best wishes for the holidays from all of us at Taekwon-do International and we wish you a happy and healthy New Year.
Grandmaster S.J. Kim
Master Gong responded after her promotion with the following essay. Click below for the complete text:
A Tribute to Friendships
Master Gong is deeply saddened by the loss of her long-time friend Master Ruben Casanova who was a student of Grand Master Suk Jun Kim since the early 1970's. This loss created a large void in both Grand Master Kim and Master Gong lives. Their friendship goes way back to GM Kim's Bergenfield NJ TKD School and their common bond and passion for taekwondo.
Master Gong and Master Casanova first crossed paths in Junior High School #125 around 1967 when they were two skinny 12-year-old kids living in the Bronx. Master Gong's grandfather signed her up to Sihak Henry Cho Bronx satellite school. One evening, in walked Ruben, his uncle Danny and his maternal grandfather. All of them were enrolled in the same S Henry Cho satellite school. All were practicing diligently every day, sometimes two classes per evening. This was the beginning of 47 years of friendship. (more ...)
Complete text of Master Gong's heartfelt and touching essay (PDF)
The Fall 2014 Suk Jun Kim Championship in New York City was a great success and attracted competitors and volunteer referees and judges from several Taekwondo Union schools. S.J. Kim's Taekwondo would like to thank everyone who participated and volunteered their time and energy. This event was an exemplar of traditional Taekwondo practice and Union unity. See you in 2015!
Earlier this month, Luca Mele, age 12, returned to classes at Asheville Sun Soo after making a challenging recovery from brain surgery earlier this year. Luca was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumor in April that had to be removed immediately. The surgery went well but the position of the tumor required the removal of Luca's pituitary gland. As a result, he requires ongoing medication and other cautionary measures to regulate his hormones, temperature, and hydration levels. In the face of these challenges however, Luca has maintained a truly indomitable spirit through this entire ordeal and is very excited to be back in class. We are very grateful for Luca’s ongoing recovery and thrilled that he is able to practice again. Thanks to all the TKDI members who offered their support to Luca through the August Fundraiser and otherwise. At Asheville Sun Soo, we are proud to be a part of this excellent and caring family of Taekwon-Do International martial artists.