TKDT Roving Reporter

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The Grassroots are Greener

on MAR. / 31 / 2011 | 0 comments

Dateline:  Inwood, New York
March 26, 2011
By  Master Erica Linthorst

Just look at the Junior Guardian Angels program in Inwood, New York and you’ll know that people in all different situations want to make a difference in their own lives and those of others.  Founded over 32 years ago, the Guardian Angels has made worldwide inroads in the efforts to keep people safe and help them lead the best lives possible.

The Bronx program, ably led by Master Dennis “Superstretch” Torres was reported on here last year (“Angels in Red”).  This year’s celebratory event, demonstrated measurably that the training program and support for it has grown enormously!  The energy in the overflowing auditorium was palpable from super demonstrations to testimonials from the numerous martial arts celebrities who attended.  Tae-Ju style founder Louis Scala spoke from the heart to his student (“Superstretch”) and his following.  WWE-famed Shelton Benjamin talked of the focus and discipline instilled in him by his teachers and congratulated Torres on his program where everyone strives to be better.  He said, “Train hard and learn your lessons well.”


Another motivational speaker, Dawn told the audience “Your past shouldn’t dictate your future.  You dictate your future.”  Grandmaster Aaron Banks urged parents “Keep your children in martial arts.  There’s only one way to learn respect – the easy or hard way.  Through martial arts they learn both ways.  And finally, you can make it if you believe in yourself.”

Reflections Upon Entering the Ring: My First Time

on MAR. / 28 / 2011 | 0 comments

by Master Erica Linthorst

“Really?  You think I can do it?” I thought seriously about the implications of going into poomsae competition at my age.  Yet, Master Turgeon was encouraging me:  “Try it!
You can definitely do something here and if you qualify you can even go to National Poomsae Team trials.  From there it’s the World Championship.”

Left with all that information, goals came rushing to the fore. I listed them for myself one by one and then set in motion plans of action.  GrandMaster ByungMin Kim always reminds us to set goals.  His earnest advice was not lost on me.  So side-by-side the required plans took shape dictated by schedules not my own.  I began to set a serious course:  regular poomsae-focused training and first stop,  WTF-USATaeKwonDo International Referee Seminar.  I reasoned that if I train and know more about the details of scoring and judging I would be giving myself a competitive chance.

I wasn’t altogether wrong but, as I found out, what I considered good was often mediocre and heavily flawed.  This meant that much more work loomed in my future – yet this challenge served to motivate me and gave me higher and more specific goals to work toward.

When I heard the words “Now you have to compete” I actually checked – “You mean I have to enter tournaments?”  “Yes,” was the simple reply. I was admonished to enter “qualifying events” and even at this stage in my TKD development that needed further explanation.  As luck had it, NYS was having its qualifying event shortly.  More sweat, more hours of practice, and focus, focus, focus!  The preparation was awesome – I loved it!  This was all about self-reflection, self-analysis, and self-motivation.  It felt terrific to be achieving one of my aims.  With support of caring Masters such as Chung, DaeSung (former Tiger Team member) I was able to move on and improve steadily.

The day came: I went to the venue by myself and on time to pick up credentials and warm-up.  I had not anticipated that the warm-ups would last nearly 8 hours.  Yet, I persevered because that was what I was there to do.


           Last minute stretch             Focus - the time is now!            Believe it or not I qualified – gold!


The Kukkiwon Moves On – to Atlanta

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Master Erica Linthorst with Master Mark Thibodeau

According to attendees in Atlanta, the Kukkiwon presentation (March 8, 2011) seems to have had a slightly different quality from the one in New York.  Mark Thibodeau, was able to speak with Master Na, Young-Jip prior to the larger event.  What follows is a report based on that encounter.

According to Jenney Ziehm:

“After his [President Kang, Won-Sik’s] arrival on March 7th, he joined the Korean American Chamber of Commerce for a welcome dinner.  The official meeting was the following day….  Many Masters and Grandmasters attended our event as well as several city, county and state officials.  The Mayors of Lawrenceville, Duluth, Doraville and Suwanee attended.  Police chiefs and sheriffs from Gwinnett, Fulton, and DeKalb Counties as well as City officers from Lawrenceville, Doraville and Suwannee.  The meeting was a huge success.


After the meeting, Master Kim, Master Youn, President Kang, Mr. Andy Kim and Master Hwang went to the Georgia Governor's office.  There they presented Governor Nathan Deal with his honorary black belt and uniform.  The Governor also presented the President with Honorary Citizenship for the state of Georgia.  Master Chris Kim and Master Youn were also awarded honorary Lieutenant status.”

Master Youn, Governor Deal, Kukkiwon President Kang, Won-Sik, Master Chris Kim

President Kang makes a Kukkiwon certificate presentation

It is commonly acknowledged that the first and second waves of TKD masters throughout the world, forged many paths and made great and significant contributions to TaeKwonDo.  According to Thibodeau, who discussed this further with Master Na, through his research he noted that the Kukkiwon had no records at all of where those masters are currently, whom they had promoted to black belts, and so on.   This lack of information and tracking gave birth to the KOMS program which was initially designed to give credit to these now “foreign” masters and their schools.  “KOMS,” according to Thibodeau, “is supposed to be an incentive based program…to entice masters and schools to join state / national agencies that live up to Kukkiwon standards.”  He remarked that from what he understood, it would also serve as a pipeline to provide information about changes in standards and other important matters.  The program would make the dan promotion process efficient and organized beyond what exists.

Organizers Master Youn and Master Chris Kimwith Master Thibodeau

In Atlanta, there was unmatched enthusiasm with an eye to the future of TKD, the role the Kukkiwon would like to play in organizing records, communication, and standard-setting.

Practicing What We Preach

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

On attending the WTF 11th Annual International Poomsae Referee and 7th International Poomsae Referee Refresher Course

by Master Erica Linthorst

Most of our readers are well-acquainted with the three (3) main pillars of TaeKwonDo practice:  poomsae (forms), kyorugi (sparring), and kyuck-pa (breaking).  In addition, school leaders around the world also encourage demonstration, as well as participation in tournaments and competitions.  Within our own schools, academies, dojangs, it is fairly easy to measure performance using self-evaluation, instructor feedback, and looking at the students next to us.
It is a greater leap to learn, know, and understand the standards by which to hold those measures.  In that vein, one hundred (100) of us strong from twenty (20) countries journeyed to Austin, Texas to attend this program.  Each attendee joined in the fullest support of on-going efforts of WTF to continue to improve standards globally and bring a cleaner image of fairness into the TKD arena, specifically competitive Poomsae.

Held just prior to the USAT Nationals, that organization, represented by Mark Kaufmann, Director of Events, was instrumental in making all arrangements for the course.

Mark Kauffman presents a plaque to Grand Master Kim, Kyung Chan

The theme throughout the five (5)-day course held February 12-16, 2011 was “Fair Judgment”.  Everyone present was reminded that the Five (5) Tenets of TaeKwonDo must also lie at the heart of correct and fair decision-making.  In the framework of refereeing, this is how they should be translated:

Courtesy *respecting others is the basis for good judging
Perseverance  *having patience; understanding others and their 
Self-Control  *managing each situation and managing oneself so you
    can make a wise decision
Integrity  *always acting in a pure-minded manner
Indomitable Spirit  *setting the goal to be honest and accurate without the
    influence of others

In GM Kim’s presentation, the ideals fit together like this

Our days were long and carefully planned to include Poomsae Theory, Competition Rules, Practical Training, Competition Rules, Scoring Criteria, and Practice for Scoring.  Of course, the final day included written, practical, and scoring elements.  We were schooled!  Practical training was grueling; nuances of 0.5 vs 0.1 deductions were hashed out; questions and discussions ensued.

Of some small interest (to about 7 of us) was that a new, official division – for over 61 years old – will be added as of 2012 for all official tournaments.  (Other details pertaining to Poomsae Competition Rules and Interpretation are available on the WTF website

Was it worth it?  At the end of the day, the hours of education and practice resulted in certificates of attendance for all. 

Master Linthorst receives her certificate

The results (pass/fail) will be available to us in about one (1) month.  With good wishes and good feelings all around, the smiles and, in some cases, visible signs of relief, told the whole story.  Cards and emails exchanged, people were ready and refresshed- prepared to bring their new knowledge back to their practice and for a good number of them, move on to the US Nationals.

Before the close of business, Grand Master Kim had mentioned that he would turn 61 in March – a significant age in Korean culture.  So – just to take the cake, we surprised him with this gesture

Camraderie was abundant and “Be the one through TKD – a sport for hope, inspiration, and goodwill” reflected in our mood and actions!

In a Bold Move: The Kukkiwon Comes to the USA

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Erica Linthorst and guest columnist George Vitale

In a bold move, the Kukkiwon has come to us!  In the week of February 5th, 2011
Kukkiwon President, Kang, Won-Sik and a small entourage (led by Na Young Jip, one of the Section Chiefs of the Overseas Strategy Team) held the first of numerous upcoming historic sessions in Flushing (Queens).  Sponsored by the TaeKwonDo Association of Greater New York, its president, Grandmaster Ben Hur was also recognized and awarded an honorary 7th  dan. 

The Kukkiwon will also take its message in a whirlwind tour to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Austin or Dallas, and possibly Toronto.

The purpose of the visit is to unveil plans for the new Overseas Membership Program.  In the past, the Kukkiwon has been the central organization for training and certification processes.  The plans call for monumental overhauls as you can see in some of the photos below.  The blueprint for these developments and changes extends over the next five (years), commencing this year.

It was striking that this international message of very significant restructuring that could very well effect all school owners and students throughout the 192-member countries of World TaeKwonDo Federation was delivered in Korean.
The presentation was not without response.   There was a documented (also in Korean) and strongly backed delivery by a somewhat shocked, large group in the audience questioning such changes as who may submit black belt test certification applications and requirements of all 4th dan holders and above instructors being required to take a Kukkiwon Certification program and testing.  They clearly had come prepared.

We will all have to stay tuned in for more information on the renewal of the esteemed Kukkiwon – its changes and new requirements.  While this may cause some ripples of resentment, new challenges regarding adhering to regulations, we can hope that this new structuring will also improve and enhance all TaeKwonDo standards in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Other notable attendees included Amerstate University officials 

(l. to r.) Grandmaster Byung Min Kim, Dr. Robert L. Kim, Grandmaster Kang, Professor Dong Keun Park, Founder/CEO Jason Cho, Vice Chairman Haeng S. Park

It was exciting to be present as a member of the press (your TaeKwonDo Times online columnist “Roving Reporter” Erica Linthorst and frequent contributor, George Vitale) with Grandmaster Kang, Won-Sik, Kukkiwon President. 
There will be more to come as the tour continues- this is just the first scoop.  Please stay tuned – this may very well materialize into a full print article!
……………… be continued

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