More than two decades ago, Dustin Fee started a small taekwondo school here in Parksville. From its humble beginnings, when the school first held its classes at Winchelsea Elementary School gym in 1995, the Parksville Taekwondo Club, now known as Cascadia Martial Arts, has continually evolved.
It continues to grow each year. That has led Dustin and his brother, Brett Fee, co-owners and instructors at the club, to find a new home, one that has the space that would allow the club to enhance its program as well as provide students more room to hone their taekwondo skills.
Students started classes on Sept 5 at their new gym, or “dojang” as it is called in taekwondo, located at the Wembley Centre.
“The club has expanded quite a bit and we have a lot of members now,” said Dustin. “We wanted a facility that kind of reflected the growth of our club. This is a central location and it’s a perfect spot.”
“We’re proud to provide our students the best facility on Vancouver Island. Maybe there’s something better in Victoria but I don’t think so. This may well be the nicest martial arts gym here on the Island, right here in Parksville.”
The new dojang has 3,500 square feet of space. Dustin said it will easily accommodate more students, especially for Cascadia’s fitness kickboxing class.
“One of the problems we had at our old facility is, it can only hold 20 and sometimes we have to turn members away,” said Dustin. “It’s a good and bad problem. The business is doing well but you’re having customers that can’t use the service. So this new gym can accommodate around 32 people in our kickboxing class comfortably.”
Parking will no longer be an issue, said Dustin. As well, there are shops in the centre where parents can go to while their children attend classes.
The expansion means all classes will now be held at the Wembley Centre gym. Dustin said they will no longer have a school in Qualicum Beach.
“It’s all going to be centralized,” said Dustin. “The gym is close to being in the middle of the two communities. So I think everyone is going to be happy with the new location.”
With the new gym, Dustin said, they are now going to make the classes flexible to allow the members to attend any single day, six days a week, regardless if you’re a white belt or black belt adult.
Another benefit of having a bigger gym, Dustin said, is it would allow Cascadia to organize taekwondo seminars and workshops.
“A lot of times, our guys have to go to Vancouver and even Washington State for big seminars,” Dustin explained. “So the plan is, with a facility like this, we’re going to invite guest coaches to come here to Parksville to train our guys. This is going to be a centre for training and it’s going to be fantastic.”
Dustin said they will also be launching Team Cascadia, a competitive team that will compete at tournaments and groom students to become national champions. The last Canadian champion from the club was Dayna Harstand, who won back-to-back national titles in 2003 and 2004.
“It’s now going to be a high-performance program that’s going to operate five times a week,” said Dustin. “To compete with the best clubs across the country, you need to be training at least five days a week as a minimum. This is going to be the first high performance program on Vancouver Island for taekwondo.”
Dustin and Brett credit the success of the club to the strong support afforded to them by students and parents.
“None of this would be possible without our members,” said Dustin. “We’re truly blessed to have such dedicated people as part of the club.”