Nine martial artists finished up the year earning new or higher black belts in a very high energy promotion testing held at the Stevens Point YMCA recently.
Fred Haack and Ian Jensen achieved the high rank of fifth degree black belt with their performance of the sipjin forma and demonstrations of advanced skills. Haack explained the essential elements of successful board breaking and then proceeded to demonstrate by breaking multiple boards. Jensen demonstrated a kali blade form and double stick fighting. Jensen also fought two matches, against opponents of diverse techniques.
Jessica Tomaszewski, the mother- son duo of Carrie Murray and Gavin Murray, Brayden Charneski, Cabrini Brandl and Joanna Gebeau all earned full first degree black belt rank with their exhibition of skills. The group answered an oral examination by Senior Master Mark Henkel which covered the history of taekwondo, the code and history of the hwarang warriors, school style and belt meaning. They also demonstrated kick combinations, sparring skills and koryo and four taegeuk forms. Tomaszewski broke her board with a round house, back spinning hook kick, Carrie Murray with a back spinning side kick and Gavin Murray broke his board with a jumping back spinning side kick. Charneski, the grandson of senior master Karen Johnson, shattered his board with a back spinning side kick. Brandl used an inside crescent back spinning side kick to break her board and Gebeau broke with a back spinning side kick.
Ben Hultman entered the black belt ranks as a deputy black belt with his demonstration of five taegeuk forms, sparring skills and advanced kick combinations. Hultman smashed his board on the first attempt, using a back spinning side kick.
Three of the color belt students received trophies for excellence in testing. Yellow belt Ben Pribel won first place, and green belt Nellie Jonjak earned second place with high red belt Isaac Bacon grabbing third place.
This testing was judged by Grandmaster Dwight Stevens, the founder and long-time head of Stevens Taekwondo Academy, assisted by retired judge Timothy Vocke and sixth degree black belts Mark Henkel, Bill Dragolovich, Dr. Ron Locascio and Jerry Hajewski. Master Kim Buehler directed the testing groups.
Celebration Gathering to Honor Dr. Stevens
The Stevens Point Area YMCA and the students and friends of Dr. Dwight Stevens gathered following the December testing to honor the long-time taekwondo instructor as he concluded 38 years of leading Stevens Taekwondo Academy.
The event brought friends and past and present students from all over the state together in a very happy reunion. More than 50 black belts attended, with others sending greetings and best wishes in a booklet of letters and photos. The celebration included cake, with lots of photos, laughter and hugs.
Since 1981, Stevens has taught literally thousands of martial artists, with more than 500 of them achieving black belt levels. Under his leadership, Stevens Taekwondo Academy has provided training, fitness and discipline which has benefited the many students. Stevens’ emphasis on respect and perseverance helps students to succeed in many areas. The family-friendly, all-ages-welcome program has retained practitioners for many years, including the husband-wife team of senior masters Mark and Hilde Henkel, who will be continuing the program at the YMCA.
High green belt Ian Shelton took first place for teen boys sparring recently. He competed in the Great Midwest Championship in Milwaukee, sponsored by J. K. Lee Tae Kwon Do.