Wednesday the 25th of November marked a very important date in the lives of four students at Evolution Martial Arts on 7th Ave South in Cranbrook.
A culmination of years of Traditional Tae Kwon-Do training came to a crossroads in its journey to see Jennifer-Leigh Wachon, Rene Kowalchuk, and Alec Earp-Haggard not only reach their goal of 2nd degree Black Belt, but I had the privilege as their instructor and examiner to watch them own the experience.
This was a transition only toppled by watching the look on Daniel (San) McGifford’s face as he reached that very special moment of achieving his 1st Degree Black Belt—because nothing really in the Martial Arts World can compare to that feeling of joy as you reach out and grasp your very first Black Belt.
The students, who are all also instructors at the club are taught that holding a Black Belt in the true spirit of Martial Arts, doesn’t mean you’re invincible, or better than anyone else, but it does shape their bodies, minds and souls into a deeper understanding of everything, and over time, belief in themselves to strive to overcome whatever life tries to throw at them.
I was amazed at how each student had grown in confidence and ability since I started teaching them many years ago and even more amazed at how they had brought together many of the junior grade students in the club to perform amazing stunts while being knocked, kicked and thrown around during each self defence routine.
They all participated with enthusiasm and with the happiest of hearts to bring some awesome drama and several comical interventions to the ‘Dojang’ (training hall) while keeping everyone safe from injury.
Sparring is always exciting and during a Black Belt testing it is always lifted to higher level with the day being no exception. As chief instructor, I am not interested in how one person can inflict injury on another, so the students are taught from the top down that it is not important to be the toughest or best, it is only important to help each other grow in skills, confidence and fighting ability.
That way, everyone grows together, and by utilising a spirit of taking care of each co-operation and taking care of each other, injury is kept to a minimum, and long term training can be achieved for everyone, for as long as they like.
After all, there are no limits, except the ones we impose on ourselves!
I am Jennifer’s father as well as her instructor so I was filled with pride to see my youngest daughter’s performance and it also brought back memories of her and her oldest sister Joanne getting their first degrees and even before that, her older sister Cayleigh-Marie testing for second and third degree.
Jenny started at age five, and also gave up early on for many years, so it was wonderful to see her do well and get back into it in her late teens. I remember when Rene started with the Cranbrook club joining with his daughter Rhiannon just to get her interested in something, and here he is five years later inspiring Rhiannon and the others in the club to keep on going and achieve their goals.
To see Alec get his 2nd degree Black Belt is also a pleasure as he was one of the very first students to step inside the doors of our Dojang in Cranbrook with 100% attendance over the first three years, week in and week out.
So having spent almost a year out of training due to illness it was amazing to see him back with even more maturity and confidence, and a skill level to match.
As for Dan getting his first Black Belt, being a father of five children who all train with us, he just inspired them to always try their hardest and do their best. It was a pleasure to see the transition from colour Belt to Black Belt and the joy from the achievement in his eyes.
Excellent job everyone!
Simon Wachon 6th Dan Master – Tae Kwon-Do