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: 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 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.

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!!

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.

 

Find a Training Partner and CRUSHING your goals!

Training for the long haul can be a daunting task.  Students can often lose motivation and drive somewhere along the road to black belt.  What makes the journey special is finding out what you’re made of during these rough patches in the road.  One thing that can help you stay motivated and on the path is having an accountability or training partner.  The potential benefits to this relationship are too strong to ignore.

Check out what makes this relationship so amazing, how it can impact your training and what things you should look for in a potential training partner.

Here are the top reasons a training partner/accountability buddy is beneficial.

1) They can help you achieve your fitness/martial arts goals – having a partner with similar goals can help elevate your training to the next level, it increases motivation, helps with keeping intensity level high, keeps you accountable, and increases your commitment level

2) Help with form – having a partner there with you during training sessions can help ensure you are keeping proper form and training safely.

3) Safety first – with a training partner, you can feel safe and secure knowing you will have someone there if you need help.

4) You can try new things- bounce ideas off each other – keep things fresh. Having a partner can prevent workout boredom and keeps your training from getting in a rut.  It also keeps the FUN in your workouts outside of the dojang.

5) Helps with accountability – knowing you have someone waiting for you keeps you on track and disciplined.  

6) Helps eliminate distraction – The perfect partners will keep each other from getting distracted during workouts.

7) Having a partner – either in person, by text, or online – can be hugely beneficial for motivation. Stanford University found that simply receiving check-in phone calls/texts from a partner increased the amount participants exercised by 78% (even after 18 months).

The Perfect Training Partner Checklist/importance

✔ Challenges you during your workouts and vice versa – having someone there to push you for that one last push up, or to keep sparring when you want to give up – keeps you kickin’ butt!

Choose someone with similar goals – if your goal is to get to black belt, then find a partner who is interested in the same.  Partnering with someone who is training for physical fitness isn’t the greatest fit if you are looking to do the long road to black belt.

Choose someone with a like-minded attitude – positive energy is infectious!

Motivation – the perfect partner is there to lift you up when you feel down and help keep you going when you want to throw in the towel.

Helpful – look for a partner who is helpful and not overly critical.  You want to walk away from your workouts feeling pumped, not defeated!

 Accountable – make sure you choose someone you can count on, a partner who is on time and shows up every single training session.

Similar Schedules – this one is crucial – finding a person who is able to work within your work/family/life schedule takes the stress out of planning and can get you on a consistent training schedule.

Healthy Competition – a little friendly competition never hurt anyone!  Keeps you moving forward!

Whether you are working on your home training or in the gym, having a training partner can make all the difference.  Keeping you motivated, keeping you accountable, keeping things fun and challenging you to push yourself to the next level.    Talk to your fellow students, see if any one is up for the challenge.  You won’t regret it!

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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.