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.

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

A Black Belt is a white belt that never gave up……..

On Saturday, June 2, 2018 our very own Mr. Stronge tested for his 1st degree Black Belt.  For those of you new to our school, our black belt tests do not come around often.  A student must show their dedication, tenacity and mastery of their martial arts techniques to even be considered for this opportunity.  Is it hard?  YES!  Do our black belts feel satisfaction and pride knowing they EARNED their belt?  ABSOLUTELY!  As a part of their journey to Black Belt, potential students are asked to write an essay about what it means to be a Black Belt.  Here is Kyo Sa Nim Stronge’s essay:

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The Black Belt

I owe everything I am to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

When I was four years old, I watched that show on TV every chance I got. I was drawn not only to the action, and the ninjas, and the monsters, but to the quiet moments. When the turtles sat in their lair, and practiced. They trained. They honed their techniques. They meditated. They lived by a code. That television show exposed me to a side of the martial arts I’ve never let go of – these arts aren’t just a fighting style, but a lifestyle.

My mother signed me up for a martial arts class that same year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. In that whole thirteen year period, I’ve never taken more than three weeks off. I’ve been to more tournaments than I can count. I have no memory of what my life was like before I was a martial artist. Training has sculpted me, physically and mentally, into the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone that has ever supported me in this journey.

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 endeavours 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 unparallelled 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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Thank you.

THE JOURNEY IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT KICKING AND PUNCHING OR PUTTING YOUR TIME IN, IT IS A WAY OF LIFE.  CONGRATULATIONS ON THIS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT KYO SA NIM STRONGE.

 

The 5 Tenets of Tae Kwon Do

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 Tae Kwon Do 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.

Master Morris

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.

Black Belts

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.”

Sparring

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.

Throw in the Towel

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

A Black Belt Test at Summit Martial Arts

Summit Martial Arts SignOn Saturday, September 19, 2015 Summit Martial Arts held our 1st Black Belt Test in Calgary.  This is a sacred rite of passage only a select few will accomplish.  We adhere to a generations old, rigorous standard for our black belt promotion. As with all our belt tests, a student must EARN the belt around their waist.  It is not enough to simply show up – a student must show their skill, physical endurance, dedication, determination and their indomitable spirit.    Within our organization, Martial Virtue Alliance, all students undergo the same demanding black belt test.  When you wear a Black Belt from our organization, you can rest assured you deserve your rank.

Belts at Summit Martial Arts

Our distinguished Board consisted of 7 Black Belts from Maine, Nova Scotia and Calgary – Grand Master Michael Clark, Master Shane Morris, Master Wayne LangilleKyo Sa Nim Beckey Langille, Kyo Sa Nim Drucie JanesKyo Sa Nim Garnet McLean, and Mr. David Uy.

Black Belt Test at Summit Martial Arts

This day has been a year in the making.  A Black Belt Test requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication on the part of the student and their instructor.  Our Black Belt test challenges every part of the body and the mind.  We spend a lot of time discussing and working on a positive mental attitude.  After all, the mind will quit a thousand times before the body will break.  Fatigue can play games with your mind. It is only those with an indomitable spirit that push through that barrier and persevere to reach the summit.

Push Ups Black Belt Test

The physical requirements for the test are intense.  We begin with push ups and sit ups.  This extreme physical exertion at the beginning of the test resets the mind and pushes nervous energy aside.

Kick at Black Belt Test

Our students are tested on their knowledge of hand techniques, kicks, 1 step sparring, take downs, forms, board breaking, and sparring.

1 Step Sparring

The Black Belt test runs for about 4 hours.  The final portion of the test is 10 – 2 minute rounds of sparring with a fresh black belt.  This is no easy feat.  After 3 1/2 hours of pushing their bodies to the limits, the sparring is where you really see what your made of.

Sparring at SMA

Sparring at SMA

A tremendous amount of drive, determination and personal fortitude is required to push through 10 consecutive rounds of sparring.  Both these gentlemen gave it everything they had.  They embody what it means to be a TRUE martial artist.

Sparring

At the end of the test, the Board meets to discuss the outcome.  It was the unanimous decision of that Board to promote both students.  On this day, Mr. William Chernichen was promoted to 2nd Dan and Mr. Florian Bernardo was promoted to 1st Dan.

Stand Before the Board

One of the members of our Board commented “This is a True BLACK BELT test. Mr Bernardo and Mr Chernichen truly deserves their rank. Very Honored be be part of it. My utmost respect to Master Shane Morris and thank you for bringing the true Martial Arts back.”  

Black Belts

It was an amazing day.  Congratulations to both our students on their promotions.  All your hard work and dedication paid off.  Remember:  A Black Belt is a white belt that never gave up.  So very true.

Black Belt Test

How to stay motivated!

Black Belt JourneyMotivation simply defined is “a force or influence that causes someone to do something.”  Motivation is at the foundation of any accomplishment – in sports, in your career, in your personal life.  Desire and determination are key elements to achieving the goals you set out for yourself.  But, what drives you during the down times?  To become the best that you can be, you must remain motivated and do what ever it takes to reach your goals. Here are a few tips on how to stay motivated:

1. Set realistic goals – write them down, share them with your instructor, commit 100% to the process

Earn it

2. Reward yourself at milestones – celebrate with friends and family, go out for dinner, have a get together, share your success with others.

work hard

3. Have an accountability buddy – having someone there to talk to goes a long way in keeping you motivated.  Feeling accountable to someone will help you stay on track for the long haul.

Surround Yourself

4. Have a plan to work through plateaus and slumps – shake up your routine, sometimes small changes can push you through – like getting a new uniform or trying some new gloves.SMA Polar Fleece

5. Visualize your achievement – picture your dream coming true, imagine how you will feel wrapping that black belt around your waist……….all the blood, sweat and tears……….TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!   Remember the is tremendous power in positive thinking.

Inhale Confidence

6.  Reinforce your training values – remember why you started, write down the reasons why you are doing this, what it means to you to achieve this goal, choose to stay committed, to stay dedicated, not because you have to but because you WANT to!

Martial Arts Motivation

The power is in your hands – it’s up to you!  Whatever your motivations, your instructor/trainer/coach will show you the path but they cannot walk the road for you. Life will sometimes get in the way, work, kids, travel, you can get sick, or injured. Missing a class or two is not the end of the world.  Life will throw you MANY excuses NOT to train, it’s up to you to make it work.  You CAN do it!!!

20 years

A Black Belt Story: Master Shane Morris – 6th Dan

The road to black belt is a unique and personal journey.  If you ever have the opportunity to talk to black belts about their experience, you will not regret the time spent listening.  The stories are ones of giving it 110%, sheer force of will, against all odds, never accepting defeat, digging deep and giving it your ALL.

Black Belt

No matter where you are or what your station in life, if you want something bad enough, you are wiling to do whatever it takes to get there.  Master Morris was determined to get his black belt – there was simply no other option.

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The Morris’ moved to New Brunswick after a harsh economic downturn in Manitoba forced the family to relocate.  At age 14, Master Morris found a school in Woodstock, NB where he continued his training in a new style – Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do.  Master Morris went to class 2 days a week and practiced at home on his off days.  Once a month, he would travel to Maine for additional training with Grand Master Clark.
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Times were tough – the family was living in a trailer while their house was being built. Space was limited. There was no basement to practice in so Master Morris took his training outside.  Out there on the lawn, Master Morris spent hours working on his kicks and perfecting his forms.

There was no money for fancy equipment so Master Morris filled the bottom of a burlap potato sack with sand, filled the rest with rags and fashioned it to a 2 x 4 on the side of a shed.  This would be his training partner for the next 2 years.

Hard Work

Master Morris knew what was expected at the black belt test.  This test was not for the faint of heart, he was faced with a 4 hour gruelling test of the mind and the body. Every part of the body would be pushed to the limit.  So he trained harder.

Every night, Master Morris ran.  He knew he would need to be in the best shape of his life to endure the test.  And, every night before bed Master Morris did 2 sets of 100 push ups and 100 crunches in preparation for his black belt test.

It will hurt

Finally, the big day was here.  Had all his hard work and dedication paid off? Master Morris was nervous.

On Saturday, May 23, 1992, Master Morris travelled to Bangor, Maine to test for his black belt.  He recalls there was 1 water break, that’s it!  (How times have changed!!)  After hours of pushing his body to the absolute limits, the test was over.  The students were bowed out and told…….”see you at dinner”.  At the time, the board met to determine if the students had met the criteria for black belt.  Having no idea if he had passed or failed, Master Morris spent a few hours wondering if he had done all he could?  At dinner, the board went over the test results.  Students were told to eat something.  Master Morris remembers being so nervous that he could not eat a thing.  Finally, the wait was over!!  The 3 students that tested that day were all promoted to black belt.  On the drive home, Master Morris held on to his black belt and did not let go.  He had done it.

Master Morris - Black Belt

For the last 23 years, Master Morris has remained dedicated to the art of Tae Kwon Do.  He continues to hone his skills as a martial artist and trains with his students during every class.  When asked what it means to be a black belt, Master Morris replied:

“A Black Belt is ultimately a symbol of the type of person you are.  It is a symbol of all the hard work and dedication you have put in to the martial arts.  It is recognition of the discipline you have shown to go the distance.  A recognition that you have persevered through all the mental and physical challenges.  A recognition that you are committed to the perfection of the art. You are a warrior, you have displayed courage, you have conquered, you are an indomitable spirit.”

Master Morris - Summit Martial Arts