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!

 

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.

The 5 Tenets of Taekwondo

5 Tenants of Tae Kwon DoMartial Arts is steeped in tradition and principles.  People are often drawn to the practice based on this adherence to a high moral code of conduct.  Students are expected to follow this moral standard both inside and outside the dojang.  At Summit Martial Arts, we ask all our students to conduct themselves in a way that is becoming of a true martial artist.  It is not enough to simply learn the movements, one must embody all the tenets of Taekwondo that have been taught for generations before them.  Our instructors consider each student’s ability to follow these “rules” when determining readiness for belt promotion or leadership training.  Today, we will discuss the 5 tenets of Tae Kwon Do and what it means for us as martial artists.

Black Belt Test at Summit Martial Arts

1. Courtesy

Courtesy by definition:  The showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others.

What does this mean for our martial arts practice:  It means showing respect to your instructors and fellow students by being on time for class, bowing when entering and leaving the dojang, bowing to black belts as they enter and leave the dojang – you are showing courtesy and respect for their earned rank, standing at attention when speaking to a black belt, always listening to your instructor when he or she is speaking, always addressing instructors with the appropriate title (Master, Mr. or Mrs – please ask if you are unsure), being respectful to your senior ranks and courteous to your junior ranks, it is important to be patient and kind to our junior ranks – you set the example for them, do not interrupt or talk when an instructor is speaking, being respectful of your fellow students training time and the instructors time, be polite – always.

 

2. Integrity

Integrity by definition:  The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

What does this mean for our martial arts training:  the best way to think of integrity is to always do the right thing.  If you are asked for 25 push ups, you do 25, not 23. If you commit to something, see it through.  Always be honest with yourself and others, dishonesty is never rewarded.

For Summit Martial Arts, maintaining our integrity is of the utmost importance. Our students are a representation of what we teach.  We take this seriously.  We teach our techniques properly before we move on, we do not promote unless a student is ready, we do not reward ego or unsportsmanlike conduct, we set the example.

 

3. Perseverance

Perseverance by definition:  Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success

What does that mean for our martial arts training:  this tenet can be applied to any goal a student would like to reach both inside and outside the dojang.  If you are looking to achieve your Black Belt, you must persevere to achieve this milestone. To persevere means pushing yourself when you feel like quitting, pushing yourself to practice when no one else is watching, doing what ever it takes to achieve your goals.

 

4. Self Control

Self Control by definition:  The ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations

What does this mean for our martial arts training:  Self control is extremely important inside and outside the dojang, whether conducting oneself in sparring or in your own personal life. A loss of self control in sparring can cause great harm to both student and opponent. Senior students should control their ego and not feel the need to dominate or “show up” less experienced students.   As Lao Tzu says ““The best fighter is never angry.”

 

Self control in one’s own life can be crucial at home, at work and in public. Controlling our emotions is a skill – one that can be honed with practice and determination.  Remember, Tae Kwon Do is an art based in self defence and should only be used as when absolutely necessary.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

5. Indomitable Spirit

Indomitable Spirit by definition:  a spirit that cannot be subdued or overcome; unconquerable

What does that mean for our martial arts practice:  any martial artist must possess an indomitable spirit in order to develop their physical, spiritual and moral character.  This spirit helps you to persevere through seemingly insurmountable obstacles, it keeps you going, it pushes you through mental and physical exhaustion, it cannot be crushed, it tells you to try again if you fail, to pick yourself up when you are down, to keep practising, and it pushes you to face your fears.  This indomitable spirit will push you to be the BEST you can be.

 

What do the 5 Tenets of Tae Kwon Do mean to you?  Think about this as you go about your daily life and be mindful in your training.  We should spend time reflecting on these principles as they are the most important part of being a true martial artist.

Black Belt Journey

Tournament Season is complete!

Well, that’s all she wrote for our 2018/2019 tournament season!  What a season it was!!  Team Summit attended 7 tournaments this year and represented our school with pride.  We would like to acknowledge all our students for their dedication to competition, giving up all their Friday nights and working extremely hard to improve on their skills.  This year, more than any before, we became a team.  One of the things that stands out in our mind most is the unwavering support of ALL our students and parents to each other.  You cheer loud and stay to the bitter end to support your fellow SMA students.  THAT IS AMAZING!!!

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Congratulations to our 3 Grand Champions this year – Alisha at the Calgary Open Martial Arts Championships, Oliver at the High River Open Martial Arts Tournament and Marcuz at the 41st Annual Western Karate Championships.

And, to ALL our competitors – there is a lot of work and effort that goes in to a tournament.  You should be very proud of yourselves as we are very proud of you.

On that note, we hope you have a restful summer and are excited to get back at it in September.  The Fall schedule is already up on the website.  A lot more going on in the fall this year – we look forward to our inaugural tournament the Summit Open Martial Arts Challenge on November 16.  The 1st tournament of the fall will be the Kids 4 Kids tournament in Beiseker on Saturday, October 5.  Tournament training is listed on the detailed schedule.

Train hard!!!  Go TEAM SUMMIT!!!

Congratulations Master Morris!

As many of you know, Master Morris flew out to Halifax, Nova Scotia in August for a weekend long training camp with Grand Master Clark and the members of Martial Virtue Alliance.  It was a weekend filled with seminars on weapons disarming, Bo Staff, sparring, cardio kick boxing and review of our entire curriculum.

The members of SMA and MVA believe strongly that the journey does not end when you get your black belt, it is just the beginning.  All our instructors are committed to life long learning.

The highlight to the weekend was Grand Master Clark (Master Morris’ instructor for the past 28 years) honoring Master Morris with his promotion to 7th Dan.  We take our Black Belt promotions very seriously.  Even our instructors have to demonstrate they have earned their rank with hard work and dedication.  Master Morris trained for 7+ years in between promotions.  His knowledge, dedication and commitment to the martial arts has remained strong for the last 26 years.  He continues to inspire and ignite passion for the martial arts in his students.  Congratulations Master Morris.  We are all very proud of you.

Fall Registration, Bye Bye Summer!

Well, summer went by in a flash!!!  Thank you to all our students who submitted pictures of their summer practice!  We loved seeing you working on your techniques all across the world!  There is still a few days left if you have not been featured, you can email or text photos and videos until the end of August.

A few exciting things for fall!  We are pleased to announce the formation of Team Summit – our very first official Tournament Team.  As with our Junior Instructor Program, we hand selected our team based on the following factors:

  • adherence to the 5 tenets of Tae Kwon Do
  • student must be of sound moral character
  • student must exhibit self-discipline, respect and a level of maturity when faced with adversity or defeat
  • proven track record of consistency in tournament training attendance
  • proven track record of commitment level to training
  • prior competition experience

We encourage students to compete as it is a valuable experience. ALL SMA students can compete in any tournament, you do not have to be on the team to compete. There will be several opportunities throughout the year starting in November.   Please see Mrs. M or Master Morris for more details on competition and training.

Starting in September, we will have a brand new JIT Team!!  We are excited to welcome the newest members of the Team.  We welcome Mr. Cutlan, Mr. Zeller, Ms. Bravo, and Brody.  We are happy to have you as part of the SMA Instructing Team.

Fall registration is almost full!  We are happy to see all our continuing students sign on for another season which left only a handful of spaces across ALL our programs.  We have enjoyed watching all of you learn and grow as martial artists.

Bootcamp has 3 spots left for the September 8 start date.  This is a high intensity, MMA style interval class.  All fitness levels welcome.  Open to everyone – bring your friends!!  See Mrs. Morris for more details on how to register.  Can’t wait to see everyone out!!!

REMEMBER:  we are back to full uniforms on September 1.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!!

Farewell Mr. Chernichen & Goodbye Summer!

As many of you know, Mr. Chernichen will be taking on a new job in a new city at the end of August.  Join us in wishing him all the best in his new adventure.  Mr. Chernichen has been a dedicated, loyal and influential member of the SMA Team since DAY 1.  He was there for every class when we started out at the Sheppard Community Centre in 2014 and took on a greater teaching role when we moved in to our new 40th Street home in 2015.  We certainly would not be where we are if it was not for his tireless efforts and dedication to the school.  We would like to take a look back at all the memories Mr. Chernichen has created here at Summit Martial Arts.  Mr. Chernichen – we thank you!  You will be missed!

In other SMA News:

Summer went by in a flash!  Usually summers are pretty quiet around SMA but not this year.  We were impressed by the tremendous dedication and hard work all our student put in over the summer.  With our upcoming belt test on September 16, students are pushing themselves to get ready.  Only a few short weeks to go, keep up the hard work!

Our 3rd Annual Beach BBQ was held in August – despite a cool morning, the sun came out and we were able to enjoy the day.   Students and their families came out to enjoy some good food, great company and fun in the sun!  Despite the cooler morning temperatures, some of the kids jumped right in the water showcasing their TKD kicks!  Way to go guys!  Thank you to all the families that came out.  Can’t wait until next year.

REMINDERS:  Our new schedule starts Tuesday, September 5 and we are back to full uniforms.  Please check the website for class times to ensure you are not late.

What does being a Black Belt mean to you?

Junior Black Belt Test Essay by Mikko Bernardo written May 27, 2017

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.

A black belt is my family. Although my mom Ydelle isn’t in the community of Taekwondo, she has been so supportive to us. Even from the beginning, at the age of 7 and 6 when my mom enrolled us to do weekly lessons at the clubhouse in our community. My mom did this because we were hyper… all the time and she wanted our energy to be drained so that we could sleep early. When Aidan came to visit from Toronto, my mom enrolled him as well so that the three of us can bond because we didn’t know each other at that time. When the program ended, the instructor wanted to build his own school, and that is when we started to go up the ranks and do tournaments. 4 years later, the school that we were in got hit with trouble. My dad told us that we were gonna move schools so that we could continue our journey.

A black belt is also persevering.  Persevering is a big part of preparing and doing the test. I have to persevere because I just can’t keep up with my brother and my cousin so I have to persevere in my training, not just for my black belt but also reaching this point. So to me, a Black belt is my family and perseverance.

What I will do to give back to the community is teach( if I passed the Junior Instructor Training Program (JIT)), assist and help the students. I will do this because I feel joy when I help people. When I taught my first class I felt happy because I am teaching the students what I learn and when I see them smile it makes me happy. I will also do this because my parents would be happy to see me teach or just lead a warm-up or help a student with something they are struggling on. When I see my parents smile when I assist, lead a warm-up or teach makes me happy.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Master Morris, Kyo Sa Nim Chernichen and my dad Kyo Sa Nim Bernardo for allowing me to test for my black belt and helping me along the way. I would also like to thank Mrs. Morris for everything she has done to arrange this test. I would also like to thank my mom Ydelle for starting my journey and watching me grow in this community. Last but not the least I would like to thank Kwan Jang Clark the rest of the board for flying out here to evaluate the three of us. Thank you so much for allowing us to test for our black belt!

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An Essay for our Junior Black Belt Test: May 2017

Black Belt by Aidan Bernardo

For some people they think of a black belt as a way of showing people that they are better than others but for me, a black belt means to never give up and to always finish what I started. In my years 7 years of dedication there were many times in my belt tests that I felt I couldn’t do it. However in that time I kept going no matter what because of all the support of my family and friends gave to me, and that I wanted to prove to my instructors and myself that I deserved the belt that I was being tested for. Never giving up means having the courage and the mindset to keep going even though it’s hard, and that’s what being a black belt is truly about.

In addition to this a black belt also means following the tenets of Taekwondo which are Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control and Indomitable Spirit.  Those tenets help me become the person who I am today.  It help me be more respectful and honest to others, and to encourage me to keep going.

Lastly, a black belt means being disciplined. Throughout my journey I know that without discipline it will be hard to follow the rules of Tae Kwon Do and if you don’t you will fail in your techniques.  Being discipline to me is another way of living life because without it we wouldn’t be respecting others and following the rules.  All of these important values are the ones that got me up to this moment.

If I am to get my black belt, I would give back to the community by being loyal to my school summit martial arts and making more time to help assist and more so to teach a class. I would also be a role model, a champion to other kids. With my experiences, I can teach them how to be disciplined and responsible so they can respect other people and to be honest. I would also give back to the community by helping out whenever they need me. The last thing that I can do to give back to the community is that I can show my fellow students and to my brother Angelo, how to have Indomitable spirit in them and to teach them that no one can overcome their spirit because one day they might test for their black belt, and that they will know that there is nothing to fear about even though there will be obstacles along the way and that through persistence one can reach a goal.


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!

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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.