Seminar Conclusion and Certificate Presentation

        Yesterday saw the conclusion of the 10th International Instructor Training offered by the International Taekwon-dÓ Federation at the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the ITF in Atlantic City.

        The session started by continuing from the previous day with Master Choi Jung Hwa completing the analysis, and disection of the final colourbelt patterns.

        Next, Mr. Parm Rai led the 200 participants though fundamental exercises, including kicking drills, more kicking, some press ups, and then ... more kicking!

        Thankful for a chance to rest their now weary legs, the participants were next invited to sit down in a semi-circle around their President and leader. In a quiet voice, Master Choi addressed and discussed with them the "do" of Taekwon-do. He explained his philosophies and ideas of what consituted a martial artist, especially a Taekwon-doist, far beyond merely the practice of punching and kicking. The group listened intensely, as he used stories and legends from oriental culture to illustrate his teachings with morality and great humour.

        There can be no doubt that all present, especially those that had perhaps met, and been taught by, Master Choi for the first time, were left inspired to further and continue their learning and understanding of our art.

        Finally the class was lined up to mark the end of the event. To everyones surprise, each attendees name was called out for them to come to the front and be personally presented their Course certificates by Master Choi. Each member was given a round of applause by the entire class as they stepped up to shake hands with Master Choi and all the other Masters present (not forgetting especially the three new Masters promoted over the weekend - Masters Sahota, Hogan and Gayle).

        Without a doubt, this was one of the best organised, and well run ITF events ever. The venue and organisation were simply perfect. We would like to express our sincere thanks to the host, Master Wheatley, and the organisers, Mr Malefyt and Dr. Szostek, for the outstanding job they did. We would also like to express our thanks to all the instructors present, especially Mr. Rai, whose powerful and exacting performances and demonstrations were truly inspirational.

        Finally, our thanks and regards to all our friends - old and new - for making the last three days so warm and memorable. We can't wait to see you all again soon






April 10, 2005

Tae kwon do masters hit A.C.

By JULIA GLICK Staff Writer, (609) 272-7213

        ATLANTIC CITY - Trevor Nicholls started tae kwon do as an English schoolboy who idolized Bruce Lee. Now, he is an eighth-degree black belt. Peter Sanders, a Dutch master, was a bullied teenager who wanted to get tough. He learned when not to throw a punch. Debbie Risko, a petite Pennsylvania woman, wanted to protect herself in a dangerous neighborhood. Today, she trains black belts. They started tae kwon do to fight but stayed because it taught them a better way to live.

        More than 200 tae kwon do masters from more than a dozen countries gathered at the Sheraton Ballroom this weekend to hone their skills, celebrate the widely practiced martial art's 50th birthday and honor its late founder, General Choi Hong Hi.

        The general's son and a top master, Master Choi Jung Hwa, spoke and taught. The black belts threw vicious flying kicks, dealt deadly punches and split boards. Still they stressed that the art teaches self-improvement as much as self-defense.

        "There are many countries here, but we all wear the same white uniform. No one is rich, no one is poor," said Rob Benedetto, a fourth-degree black belt from Pottstown, Pa. "We all bow to our masters, show respect and obey the tenets. That is the moral culture beyond the kicking and punching."

        He added that tae kwon do classes around the world recite an oath at each class, promising to obey the art's five tenets: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

        Since General Choi developed TaeKwon-do to train soldiers in the Korean army, the art has spread to about 30 million practitioners in more than 110 countries.

        Saturday morning, two hundred masters - some from as far as Bulgaria, Iran and Argentina - punched, stepped, blocked and exhaled in perfect unison, filling the elegant ballroom with a sound like a chugging freight train.

        Later they feasted to honor General Choi, who combined Japanese karate with traditional Korean martial arts into a more efficient fighting form. The International TaeKwon-do Federation, which organized this weekend's event, and worked to spread TaeKwon-do worldwide until his death in 2002. His only son, an eight-degree black belt and the federation president, carries on that work.

        "When you practice TaiKwon-Do techniques - which can be very devastating against an opponent - by yourself you reach a peace and a oneness with your environment," Choi Jung Hwa said between trainings. "It might seem contradictory, but by building your body to fight, you bring peace to yourself and others."

        Benedetto, who teaches TaeKwan-do in Pennsylvania, said that people who practice TaeKwon-do for the wrong reasons usually change their ways or eventually leave. Benedetto, who started training as a problem child 20 years ago, said the art transforms people.

        One of his students was failing all of his classes when he first began, he said. The child's teacher recently called and thanked Benedetto, because the student is now earning straight B's.

        "I have probably thrown 5 million punches in my life, but it is not about the movements," he said, adding: "The culture of the school and the art changes you and you realize you are not all that tough. You learn respect."



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