Qualicum Beach Community Hall was alive with the sounds of dedicated students recently, as 16 members of the Parksville Taekwondo Academy turned out for the clubs annual black belt testing day.
Held once a year, testing day, says instructor Brett Fee, “is a very important event for our school, and a huge milestone in many people’s lives. No matter what many of these people do, they will always remember this day, and they will always be a Black Belt.”
This year’s crop was made up of 10 students testing for their 1st Dan black belt, four for 2nd Dan, one for 3rd Dan and one for 4th Dan.
Conducting the tests were Master Murray Fee, 5th Dan Black Belt and Grand Master Kil Woo Kim, 8th Dan Black Belt.
Being a Black Belt, Fee explains, “comes with great responsibility. You are expected to be very respectful to others, and conduct yourself with high moral standards.”
“Black Belts from our school are trained to help others whenever possible, and to be a good example to others, especially to young people. It isn’t always about kicking, punching, and fighting, although these Black Belts can certainly hold their own.”
Being a black belt he said, “is more about a mindset, and about how to set goals and overcome obstacles,” and points out the meaning of the Black Belt is opposite of white, therefore signifying the maturity and proficiency of Taekwondo.
The Black Belt also represents a new beginning for Taekwondo practitioners.
“This means that Black Belt is only the beginning,” said Fee, adding to become an effective martial artist, “you must continue to train and practice far beyond what is normally considered adequate.
“Each and every one of these students who tested have had to overcome many challenges to get where they are today, and that makes me so proud of them that I can’t even explain in words.”
One notable in the mix was Sarah Spooner, 23, who successfully tested for her 4th Dan, which means she is now recognized as a Taekwondo master by the Kukkiwon (the World Taekwondo Federation governing body).
“Sarah is an asset to our club, and helps teach many classes. She is very skilled and knowledgeable in many areas, but has shown a great talent and skill for poomsae (patterns), and often times helps myself and Master Brock improve on our poomsae.
“Anytime one of your students can teach you something, it is a proud and humbling moment,” he said, adding, “we never stop learning new techniques, and having Sarah with us at the club, makes the school just that much better.”
PASSING THEIR TESTS were 1st Dan Black Belts: Jamie Wort 9, Cody Jackson 9, Desiree Ward 9, Ethan May 12, Matias Klassen 12, Ashlee Barner 12, Jared Artindale 16, Joshua Pare 16, Katie Longland 32, Pierre Pare, 58; 2nd Dan Black Belts: Emma Deering, 14, Seth Fleming-Alho, 14, Sarah Heimann 16, and Eileen Hanuse, 57; 3rd Dan Black: Emily Swann, 15, and 4th Dan Black: Sarah Spooner, 23.