Jr. Instructor Highlight: Ms. Elena Guo

Meet Ms. Elena Guo – Brown Belt

Elena has been training in the martial arts for 4 years, joining SMA in April 2016. Elena completed the SMA Junior Instructor Training Program in September 2018.  She believes the mental aspects of Tae Kwon Do are the most valuable lessons. These lessons have taught her discipline, perseverance, self-control and respect.  She understands that to succeed you must break through the mental barriers and never give up.

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We asked Ms. Elena a few questions, here’s what she had to say:

What is your most memorable/proud moment?

My most memorable moment in martial arts was after completing my brown belt test, Master Morris said that he and the Black Belt Board collectively agreed that my belt test performance was the strongest performance of the day and that he was incredibly proud of me.  The brown belt test was by far the hardest belt test I had done, and after having endured almost 4 hours of pushing myself to my physical limits, it was extremely rewarding to hear that praise.

What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to ensure that students are having fun while learning. I am happy if there is just one thing that they can take away from each class, no matter how big or small that thing is.

Why do you love the martial arts?
I love martial arts because it is not a sport that only purely trains your physical body, but it is a sport that trains your mind too. Martial arts teaches you practical skills such as self defense, but more importantly, it teaches you respect, discipline, and perseverance.
While the physical skills are not something that I can use every day in my life, the 5 Tenets of Taekwondo are aspects that I apply in my daily life, helping me become a better person.

Why do you love SMA?
I love Summit Martial Arts because we get to know one another and eventually, we grow to become a family together. Everyone supports and helps each other to improve and become the best version of themselves.

Hobbies outside of martial arts?

My hobbies outside of martial arts include badminton, piano, and choir. I have completed level 10 Royal Conservatory of Music piano, and I am a part of the Festival Choir at school.

Elena believes that words and actions reflect who you are.  Showing respect to others is also showing respect to yourself.  Elena enjoys instructing because it allows her to pass on knowledge and experience to younger students. She believes if you can help one person improve it makes a difference in their lives. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge and skills through her martial arts journey.

Thank you for your dedication to our school and to teaching our young students.  We are lucky to have such an amazing group of young people at SMA!

 

Jr. Instructor Highlight: Ms. Chaney Mowat

Meet Ms. Chaney Mowat:  Blue Belt

Ms. Chaney has been with Summit Martial Arts since March 2015.  Chaney has been training in martial arts for 6 years. She completed her Junior Instructor Training in 2017 and has been assisting in our children’s classes for 3 years.

We asked Ms. Chaney some questions, here’s what she had to say……..

What is your most memorable / proud moment in martial arts ?

My most memorable moment was when I was SMA’s 1st Athlete of the Year in 2018, it was huge turning point in my martial arts career. I realized how much of an impact you can have on people’s lives and it was a huge honour.  I cannot thank SMA enough for providing me with this award. I am very proud to be a part of the SMA family, and I’m so proud to represent them.

A few other of Ms. Chaney’s proudest moments are winning her first Gold medal in 2015, and earning a Bronze and Silver in an all-boys division in 2017.  In May 2018, Chaney was chosen as CTV Athlete of the Week for Outstanding Performance and Athletic Ability.

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is based on what I feel are important qualities for a martial artist to have. I feel that every martial artist needs to have a strong foundation built on respect, discipline, and confidence. To me, martial arts is not only about striking and fighting it is about living by the tenants of Tae Kwon Do in my everyday life. Martial arts has helped shape me as a person, it has made me physically and mentally stronger.

Why do you love SMA?

When I was competing at the 2014 TAFISA World Martial Arts Games, one of the Team Canada instructors was from SMA.  When my own instructor (from a different school) did not show up, the SMA instructor took me on like one of his own students. At my trial class, I was welcomed and immediately felt like a part of the SMA family. They have always pushed me to be the best martial artist I could be.  They have supported me from day one and have taught me the most important lessons in life.

Outside of the martial arts, Ms. Chaney is an accomplished show and performance horse rider.  This July, she (and her horse Vicky) took home top honors for winning Provincials 2019 Top Youth in Alberta!!!!! A talented young lady we are proud to have as part of our team. Take a minute to congratulate her on this awesome achievement.

Chaney loves working with kids, she enjoys watching them progress and improve their techniques. Through her martial arts journey, Chaney has learned a lot about discipline and responsibility. Assisting in our classes has helped her learn the importance of proper movement and mechanics.  Teaching has helped her grow immensely in her own journey – allowing her to perfect her techniques.

We are very proud to have this young lady as part of our school.  She has been a tremendous help over the past few years.  Thank you for your dedication to SMA!

Jr. Instructor Highlight: Ms. Danielle Bravo

Meet Bo Kyo Sa Bravo – Purple Belt
Ms. Bravo started her journey at Summit Martial Arts in December 2016.  She graduated our Junior Instructor Training Program in July 2019.  Ms. Bravo achieved her Red Belt in ITF Taekwondo before coming to train at Summit.
We asked Ms. Bravo some questions, here’s what she had to say……..
How did you become involved in martial arts?
Looking back, martial arts has been indirectly part of my life. I grew up with uncles and cousins practicing combats as part of their courses in school.  Also, I practiced Krav Maga during my mandatory IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Service.  These early martial arts influences developed my love for the sport.

What is your most memorable / proudest moment?
Aside of each belt test, my most memorable and proud moment in martial arts was last December 2018 where I received the SMA 5 tenets of Tae Kwon Do Award. Whenever I think of it, I get mixed emotions; pride and yet humbleness.
I have also competed in a few local ITF tournaments.  My last competition in 2016, I won  Gold in forms/patterns and Bronze in sparring.
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Why you love martial arts?
Since starting martial arts, I’ve been trying to exemplify the 5 tenets of Tae Kwon Do: Courtesy, Integrity, Self-control, Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit. I wanted to show that taekwondo/martial arts teaches more than physical lessons.  Most people immediately think martial arts is learning how to “fight”. I find this is the most common perception surrounding martial arts – but it is much more than physical training.  It embeds a moral code of conduct to all it’s athletes – teaching them to live by the 5 tenets in all aspects of life.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My current teaching philosophy is: “Teach attitude and skills with actions rather than words”  I find this has become meaningful to me especially when I started assisting with the children’s classes.  It has pushed me harder to practice self discipline and self progress in order to get a good grasp of my skills and techniques so that I can be a good example to my peers.
Why do you love SMA?
I love SMA for the sense of community. For me, SMA has created a very welcoming atmosphere; from the moment you enter their door you become part of the family and for them, ones success is everyone’s success. They help you create and reach your personal goals, they push you to lead by example through their actions and dedications. This past year they’ve taught me that being strong is not just physical but also mental. Knowing your limitation is a strength not a weakness and giving up when you are tired or in pain is not an option.  They will work with you around your limitations and find a way in achieving your goal; as long as you want it they are there for you.
Things you didn’t know about Ms. Bravo:
Outside of Martial Arts Background:
– I was born in the Philippines, grew up in Israel and living life in Canada.
– I fluently speak 3 languages Hebrew, English and Tagalog.
– I am a valedictorian nursing graduate with current focus on the health and technology systems.
– My main hobbies are working out and practicing martial arts but when I don’t do either of these you’ll find me trying to escape a locked room, travelling or enjoying food trips.
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Jr. Instructor Highlight: Mr. Brody Morris

Meet Bo Kyo Sa Brody Morris

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Brody began his martial arts journey at the age of 5.  His early experiences took place in the basement of his home under the instruction of Master Morris.  If you didn’t know, Brody is the son of Mrs and Master Morris and brother to Riley.


Before the opening of SMA, Brody achieved his yellow belt in ITF Tae Kwon Do.  Brody has been training at SMA since it’s inception in May 2014.  He has competed in numerous local and provincial tournaments, taking home Gold in Forms, Sparring and Bo Staff.  Brody’s proudest moment was at the 2019 Western Provincial Open in Edmonton when he qualified for the World Karate Commission Provincial in Sparring.

Brody enjoys assisting in our youngest children’s classes.  He is dedicated to giving back to the martial arts as it has taught him many lessons that he applies to his daily life.  Brody has set a goal for himself and hopes to test for his red with black band belt this coming September.

Most recently, Brody attended the 2019 MVA Martial Arts Camp in Halifax, NS to hone his skills and learn from top instructors in our organization.

In his spare time, Brody enjoys biking, hiking, camping and walking his dog Maui.

Brody has been a tremendous help in the children’s classes over the years.  He assists in Little Monkeys and Little Dragons classes.  We thank him for all his hard work and dedication to the school.

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Jr. Instructor Highlight: Mr. Richard Zeller

Mr. Zeller began training at Summit in October 2017 after watching how much his two children had enjoyed their training.  Mr. Zeller loves the challenge that every class brings.  He is a firm believer in the 5 tenets of TKD and the lasting impact they have on students and instructors alike.  The physical and mental strength gained through training at SMA is something that he embraces each and every day and is always looking forward to the next chapter of his journey.  Mr. Zeller is extremely honored and equally excited to be part of the JIT team and is looks forward to helping other students learn and have fun through their own journeys.

We asked Mr. Zeller some questions, here’s what he had to say……..

What is your teaching philosophy?  I try to make sure everyone is engaged / having fun, but at the same time pushed to achieve their potential.

Why you love martial arts?  To me it’s a combination of honing & perfecting body, mind and spirit.  Being able to apply what has been learned to achieve your goals.

Why you love SMA?  SMA embodies a passion for martial arts.  Your achievements are earned through hard work and dedication which makes your journey that much more fulfilling.

What is your most memorable / proud moment in martial arts ?

As an Orange belt there was one Kicking class where we were practicing our Jump Front Snap Kicks, and one of the instructors came by, took the clapper pad from my partner and held it higher than I’ve ever kicked before.  In fact, I thought it was ridiculously high / and near impossible.  He told me he believed in me, to get into a good stance and really push myself.  I ended up kicking the pad much to my surprise, and after a solid high five from the instructor I realized just how far I can go if I put my mind to it.

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Mr. Zeller graduated the Junior Instructor Training program in July 2019.  He is an key member in our team.  His dedication and passion for the martial arts can be seen in every class.  Thanks for being part of OUR journey!!

Meet Mr. Max Stronge – Instructor

Meet Kyo Sa Nim Max Stronge

Black Belt – 1st Dan

Mr. Stronge started training in the martial arts in 2004 after being inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Mr. Stronge has been with SMA since 2014, shortly after our opening day.  He has been training in the martial arts for 14 years in various styles and has competed in countless tournaments. In July 2016, he was chosen as CTV Athlete of the Week for his Outstanding Performance and Athletic Ability. Later that July, Mr. Stronge competed at the 2016 WOMAA World Martial Arts Games in Essenbach, Germany, bringing home two silver medals in the point and continuous fighting divisions.

Mr. Stronge graduated from the SMA Junior Instructor Training Program in September 2017.  Mr. Stronge has spent several years under the direct supervision of Master Shane Morris, honing his teaching skills and assisting in tournament training.

After almost a decade in the tournament scene, Mr. Stronge has now found a new passion – teaching. His greatest accomplishment has been passing on his love of the martial arts to others.  He is dedicated to learning and improving his skills both as an instructor and a student. Mr. Stronge hopes that everyone he has the pleasure of instructing can find the same joy in the martial arts that he does.

Mr. Stronge earned his first degree Black Belt on Saturday, June 2, 2018.  In his essay what it means to be a black belt, he wrote:

“I’ve come close to the black belt twice before. When I was ten or eleven, I became a junior black belt at the first school I ever trained at. When I was thirteen, I was a black stripe at a different school, and my black belt test was within reach for the second time. Looking back on where I was, and what I was, I wouldn’t have measured up to our green belt standard. That’s why this black belt, and this organization, is so meaningful to me. When you test for a belt, you know that you have earned it. The level of prestige associated with the black belt is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my martial arts experience, and I’m glad that this is where I’ve chosen to spend my time.”

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“To me, the black belt is the difference between training in the martial arts and being a martial artist. When a student is a red belt or black stripe, it should be expected that the fundamental, physical aspects of the discipline are mastered. The black belt test, the one I’m about to undergo, is the last true test of physical aptitude. After that, once the black belt is attained, the journey becomes more of a mental one. It is the end of one part of the journey, but the beginning of another. A black belt embodies the tenets of taekwondo, their own personal code, not only on the mats and in training, but in every aspect of life. They are courteous – kind and respectful to everyone they encounter. They have integrity – they operate with truth, and honor, and hold themselves to a high personal standard. They persevere through any challenge or obstacle. They possess a sense of discipline, of self-control, of both their actions and their emotions. And they refuse to let their unbreakable, indomitable spirit be defeated. In my view, the difference between a red belt and a black belt has nothing to do with kicking and punching. The difference is in those tenets. We learn them on the mats, but we adopt them in endeavors unrelated to martial arts too. We develop the ability to regulate our emotions, our feelings of anger, of recklessness, of doubt, of fear. We interact with our peers with a sense of respect, and of fairness. We refuse to give in easily when faced with adversity. That is what makes a black belt a true ambassador of the martial arts.”

“Over the last year, I’ve caught another martial arts bug, and learned more about a whole other side of all this. I had the opportunity to start teaching kids. I never thought that I would be much of a teacher: the idea of standing in front of a class of students and talking to them terrified me. But as I’ve watched them grow and improve over time, I’ve realized that I’ve wanted to do this my whole life. It’s not a cliche to say that teaching is the most fulfilling job you can have – the sense of pride I have in my students when they break through barriers and improve is unparalleled by any other feeling I’ve felt. I’m going to keep chasing that feeling as long as I can find students that want to learn from the experience I have.Teaching martial arts is what I was meant to do, and I hope I can give back to the organization that has given me so much by continuing to be a part of training the next generation, and I hope I can do that for a very long time.”

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Mr. Stronge is an integral part of of the SMA Team.  He brings a level of excitement, energy and passion for the martial arts to every class!  Our students come out of class with big smiles and enthusiasm for learning – what more could we ask for!  Thanks for being an awesome part of the Team Mr. Stronge.

Jr. Instructor Highlight: Bo Kyo Sa Mikko Bernardo

Meet Bo Kyo Sa Mikko Bernardo

Mikko started his martial arts journey when he was just 6 years old.  He has been with Summit Martial Arts since it’s inception in May 2014.   He completed his Junior Instructor Team training in 2017 and has been assisting in our children’s classes for 2 years. To Mikko, martial arts is not just a sport, it’s a way of living. Mikko believes strongly in conducting his life according to the 5 Tenets of Taekwondo – Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control and Indomitable spirit. He works hard to apply these principles to his daily life. The Bernardo’s were featured on Global News as they prepared for their World Games.  Check out their story.   When Mikko is teaching, his greatest joy is seeing kids smile.   That alone makes his day.

 

Mikko’s proudest accomplishment was earning his Black Belt in May 2017.  He is the youngest SMA student to bestowed such an honour.  When asked what it means to be a Black Belt for his essay, Mikko said:

“A Black Belt isn’t just a rank or a belt it is yourself, your life. A person with a Black Belt should bring good to our world. We all got our white belt, orange belt, yellow belt, so on so forth to reach a new beginning. The tenets of Taekwondo: Courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit are not only what a person with a black belt holds but also what a true martial artist holds. Master Morris has told us many things but the one thing that I can’t forget is that “A BLACK BELT IS A WHITE BELT WHO NEVER GAVE UP”. Discipline is also a big part of having a black belt because without discipline you will not be able to control yourself, you will just do whatever with the title of a person with a black belt. When Master Morris asked me what a black belt means to me and what I will do to give back to the community… I had to think… a lot.”

Mikko also competed in the  2014 TAFISA World Martial Arts bringing home Gold in Forms and Pt. Sparring, Silver for Continuous Sparring, and Bronze for Bo Staff for Team Canada and taking home Grand Champion from the 2018 Calgary City Championships. Mikko competes extensively throughout the year and is dedicated to continuing his own training.  He was selected as a member of our Tournament Team in 2018/2019 and represented our school with pride.  We are very proud to have him as an integral part of our school.

Jr. Instructor Highlight: Bo Kyo Sa Aidan Bernardo

Meet Bo Kyo Sa Aidan Bernardo – Black Belt – 1st Dan

Bo Kyo Sa Aidan Bernardo began his martial arts training at the age of 6.  He has been with Summit Martial Arts since it’s inception in May 2014.  He completed his Junior Instructor Training Program Team in 2017 and has been assisting in our children’s classes for 3 years.

Aidan has competed in dozens of tournaments over the years including the 2014 TAFISA World Martial Arts Games earning a Gold Medal for Team Canada in Bo Staff, winning Grand Champion at the 2015 Shuswap Open Martial Arts Tournament.  In 2018, Bo Kyo Sa Aidan was hand selected to be a member of our tournament team.  He has represented our school at dozens of tournaments over the years.  He competes in Bo Staff, Forms, Sparring, Team Forms and Team Sparring.

On May 27, 2017, Bo Kyo Sa Aidan Bernado alongside his cousins tested for his Black Belt.  In his essay “What it means to be a black belt”, Aidan shows his gratitude for his martial arts journey:

“In conclusion, I would like to say thank you to God for guiding me and giving me strength, and my school Summit Martial Arts, because without them I wouldn’t be saying this.  I’d like to say thank you to my family because they are the ones that make me keep going and motivate me when I’m feeling weak.  Thank you also to Marcuz and Mikko for being there in this journey, the fun and actions we shared in each of our classes and the support they gave me.  Lastly, I would like to give special thanks to my instructors Master Morris, Kyo Sa Nim Chernichen and Kyo Sa Nim Bernardo for pushing me to this moment and inspiring me to keep going.  Finally, thank you for teaching me how to be a good MARTIAL ARTIST!”

To Aidan, martial arts is not about becoming the best kicker or puncher, it is about being disciplined, helping others, learning to protect himself and others. He enjoys teaching because it is an opportunity to build connections and to learn new things and grow as a martial artist. Throughout his journey, he has learned how to defend himself by using different techniques and strategies, learned some awesome take downs and learned how to push his limits and set new goals.  Bo Kyo Sa Aidan credits martial arts for making him the person he is today.   We think that’s a pretty awesome person, we are grateful to have him as an integral part of our school.

On June 27, 2019, Bo Kyo Sa Aidan Bernardo was promoted to 1st Dan Black Belt.  Congratulations!

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Jr. Instructor Highlight: Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz Bernardo

Meet Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz Bernardo – Black Belt – 1st Dan

Marcuz began his martial arts journey at the age of 7.  He has been with Summit Martial Arts since it’s inception in May 2014.   He completed his Junior Instructor Training Program training in 2017 and has been assisting in our children’s classes for 3 years.  

On May 27, 2017, Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz along with his brother and cousin tested for their Black Belt.  In his essay, what it means to be a black belt he talks about what the 5 tenets of Taekwondo mean to him:

“practicing those tenets, were commandments to helping me push through no matter what the outcome was going to be. I showed courtesy for those who taught me. I showed integrity by doing my training even at home. I showed perseverance by never giving up on my mind and on my body, but pushed further. I showed self-control by controlling my actions, emotions and thoughts each test, so that I wouldn’t be fussy and give up on myself. And I showed my indomitable spirit, by saying in my head, I will get this belt, I will excel in this test. I can do it!. So with all of these tenets, I know I’ve shown the courtesy for my instructors, integrity in my hard training, perseverance in getting this far, self-control over myself, and the indomitable spirit, knowing that I can excel this test. When I get my black belt today, I will know that I did my best, and that I earned it.”

After 4 gruelling hours of push ups, crunches, forms, kicks, self defence, hand techniques, warrior crawls and sparring – he came out a certified Black Belt in our organization.  A lifetime achievement.


Marcuz believes that being in the martial arts has helped him be a better person. He tries to make sure that everyone has a positive learning experience, while having a little bit of fun. I can also relate to kids in a matter where they understand me, and can follow my lead. 

Marcuz’s most treasured moments were earning a Gold for Forms and Silver for Bo Staff at the 2014 TAFISA World Martial Arts Games and taking home Grand Champion at the 2019 41st Annual Western Karate Championships. Check out their story on Global News.   Being a black belt, Marcuz feels honored to serve our school and help grow our community.  He is a top member of our Tournament Team, competing extensively throughout the year.  Bo Kyo Sa Marcuz represents our school with pride and the utmost sportsmanlike conduct.  Always willing to lend a helping hand and support SMA in what ever way he can.  Marcuz is an wonderful example to all our students.  

We look forward to having him around SMA for years to come.

What it means to be a Black Belt

The meaning of a Black Belt and my purpose of being one

Written By:  Marcuz Bernardo for his Black Belt Test on May 27, 2017

What does a black belt mean to me? I had to ponder this question a lot during my training. Being a Black belt, is not just a rank or a belt, it’s a way of living discipline, so we can bring good to the world. We all can get belts and achieve ranks. But discipline is more than all of these, showing us how to be a better martial artist. Kicking and punching are only techniques we can learn easily. Even a bunch of bullies and thugs can do that. When discipline comes in, we learn how to control ourselves not only in a fight, but also in the world we are in.

We have school to attend to, and everyday is that control that we need. Our tenets of Taekwondo: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit, are there for the purpose of being a good person. Even Master Morris said himself, that we can have the best kicks, hand techniques or whatever, but he will never test us if we show that we’re missing one of the tenets in our life. Even the slightest bit of giving up or dishonesty, will bring us down. Without all the tenets, we’re all just kicking and punching.

A black belt is the white belt who never gave up. That is a quote I will never forget. I started taekwondo 7 years ago. My mom had enrolled me to taekwondo so I could get involved in the community. She wanted to see that Mikko and I were happy to take part in self-defence. I never really understood its full purpose in my young age. But when I was going up the ranks, it was getting harder and harder for me to test. It was the most work I’ve done in my life, pushing to get my belt. Even when I participated in tournaments, I couldn’t see how I could ever compete against my competitors. There were great victories, big hardships, and tremendous losses. I never thought I could be this far in my journey.

But practicing those tenets, were commandments to helping me push through no matter what the outcome was going to be. I showed courtesy for those who taught me. I showed integrity by doing my training even at home. I showed perseverance by never giving up on my mind and on my body, but pushed further. I showed self-control by controlling my actions, emotions and thoughts each test, so that I wouldn’t be fussy and give up on myself. And I showed my indomitable spirit, by saying in my head, I will get this belt, I will excell in this test. I can do it!. So with all of these tenets, I know I’ve shown the courtesy for my instructors, integrity in my hard training, perseverance in getting this far, self-control over myself, and the indomitable spirit, knowing that I can excel this test. When I get my black belt today, I will know that I did my best, and that I earned it. As a black belt I will move forward with these tenets as my guide.

Knowing that there is still much to explore, I won’t stop chasing for it. It’s not the rank, or the belt that I want. It’s the discipline, and challenges to overcome. Moo-Duk-Kwan has helped me learn our world today. There is more evil in the world, than there is good. Stepping up to show what is good, is the least we can do to make the world a better place. Whatever door I have to open, whatever path I have to choose, and whatever obstacle comes through, I will push through knowing that I cannot be conquered. I will fight for the good of all. This is what a black belt is all about to me.

What I can do to give back to my community once I become a black belt, is to teach and assist Master Morris, Kyo Sa Chernichen, and my dad. I show a passion for teaching, especially in the JIT program (or Junior Instructor Training) that was launched in September. Ever since the day Master Morris asked me to help him teach and assist, I never hesitated one bit. Teaching is a way of learning. I learned so much teaching the little kids, and helping out. It made me happy to see how kids were enjoying. I feel that I should share our style of Moo-Duk-Kwan Taekwondo and bring it to others. I want to make a school some day. It would be so much fun to be able to teach and help others with my own style of training. I see this as my future. And thanks to the help of my fellow JIT friends, we all can share our passion.

Finally, I would like to thank Master Morris, Kyo Sa Chernichen and my dad for helping me through this hardworking journey. I would also like to thank my mom for starting my journey and watching me grow in this community. I thank my friends and family who have supported me in all that I’ve been through. Lastly, I would like to thank Grandmaster Clark and the rest of the board for being here to evaluate the three of us. We promise you, we will push as hard as we can to excel in this test. Thank you so much for allowing us to test for our black belt. We will give our all.