See Select Black Belt Essays below!
Congratulations to those that “finished what they started”….
Introducing the Federation’s active BLACK BELTS in good standing:
Seventh Degree Black Belt, and Head Instructor:
Grandmaster Duane Pitcher
Sixth Degree Black Belts, and Master Instructors:
Master T.J. Norton, Master Valerie Watson
Fourth Degree Black Belts and Master Instructors:
Master Mike Pitcher
Master Justin Lane
Master Justin Montoya
Master Mike Currie
Third Degree Black Belts: (“Kyo Sa” denotes “certified instructor”)
Kyo Sa Christie Pitcher
Kyo Sa Joe Kucharski
Second Degree Black Belts: (“Kyo Sa” denotes “certified instructor”)
Kyo Sa Eric Markarian
Kyo Sa Heather Clegg
Kyo Sa David Proefke
Kyo Sa Bruce Rabey
Kyo Sa Amy Schuerman
Kyo Sa Dennis Lewinski
Zarek von Oetinger
First Degree Black Belts:
Inactive in good standing – Moved, College, Military, No longer training with us:
Kyo Sa Nico Bonadeo
Kyo Sa Kevin Chambo
Kyo Sa Eric Dummer
Kyo Sa Barry Green
Kyo Sa Tara Hernes
Kyo Sa Allen McMillan
Master Ransom Posh
Kyo Sa Nick Schulz
Kyo Sa Doug Van Eeuwen
Select Black Belt essays:
T.J. Norton, 9 years old, 2001
When I was five years old I started training because I thought karate was cool and it was something I wanted to do more than anything else in the world. It took me about four and a half years to reach my goal of black belt. I am 9 years old now. I passed every testing I ever had, and even though I had to re-test on some things some times it never discouraged me. In fact, when I tested for red belt, one of the things I had to re-test on was my form – Pyong Ahn O Dan.I practiced hard and re-tested successfully.The bonus was, that because I practiced so much more to re-test, that when I competed at a tournament the next weekend, I took home a 2nd place trophy in forms competition.
One of the things that I like most about karate is being able to see my friends every day and wrestle with them, even though sometimes we get too carried away and have to stop for a bit. Another thing I have benefited from with Tang Soo Do is learning respect. Without it, I would be like any other kid which means I would have very little respect. And, my whole attitude is better than theirs. So is my confidence. In school awhile ago we had to do a report on video tape. Because I am an instructor’s helper and have been helping teach for a long time, getting up in front of the class and the camera was only a little bit scary for me instead of very scary like the other kids.
I also like my instructor a lot – Kyo Sa Pitcher – because he’s half the reason I like karate a lot. Well three-fourths really. Another thing I like a lot is that my whole family is in it except my real Dad and his side of the family. And I especially get a big kick out of doing it with my Mom. In fact she’s the reason I stayed in karate at green belt when I was thinking of stopping. My advice to other kids is to stick with it too because in the long run you’ll end up loving it as much as I do.
In the future I plan to open up my own karate school and ask my Mom to help me do the accounting for it. I think that karate is a great thing in life to do, and all kids, especially those with bad attitudes and bad behavior, should do it because it would make them turn over a new leaf.
E Dan Test (2nd Degree Black Belt) By: Esha Joshi, 2009
I remember the first day I started karate. It was at my school and I wasn’t so thrilled about it because my parents made me go to it. But as I got into it, I started liking it more and more.
After a short four years, the black belt test rolled around the corner. I was very nervous. I didn’t think that I would pass! After the brutal day of hard work, I realized why I passed. Confidence and support from my family. They’re the reason that I tried my best and didn’t give up. I tried hard to impress them and with that in mind I flew through the test. Sure, I made some mistakes here and there but I kept trying which was a big part of it. I was proud of myself for achieving that goal and so was my family. I bragged to all my relatives and friends that I was a black belt.
And now I can brag even more! The E Dan Test was fun, hard, and tiring all at the same time. The morning of the test I told my mom that I wouldn’t be able to do it but she believed in me and said I could do it. I started worrying about how I would do on my forms or if I would get all my basic actions, but when the time came to do those things, I just went for it and I got it.
This test has really made me appreciate my family because they have supported me so much and I want to thank them. Tara has also been a great friend and has helped me throughout this whole thing. Thanks to everybody for helping me with the last part of the test, physical fitness. I really couldn’t have done it without the help of my Tang Soo Do family. Overall, I feel like I have accomplished a lot. Karate has taught me many things. It has taught me to have courage, and to never give up. I’ve also realized that everybody supports each other, no matter what. I’m so glad that my parents enrolled me in karate.
Black Belt Essay By: Tara Hernes, 2009
I believe I started Tang Soo Do when I was 10 years old; my history is shaky. I started not knowing what to expect, and I ending up finding myself, learning more than I ever imagined.
When I started Tang Soo Do I had no idea why I started, I think my parents had a flyer or something. What I didn’t realize was that it would be one of the best things they could have ever done for me. After a year of studying martial arts with my dad, we started attending classes less and less often, and then we stopped going altogether (that would be the worst thing they could ever let me do). At first it didn’t make that big of a difference to me, we were “just busy at that time,” then weeks started going by, then months, then years, and eventually I started to realize something was missing, I just didn’t know what. It wasn’t until I ran into Master Pitcher and the demo team at the Livonia Spree one year that I knew I needed to go back. We searched for the old school, but there was a notice on the door saying they had moved to a new location. It was not until I passed by the new location on the way back from an apple orchard that I made my dad take me to check out the new school, which was the best thing they have ever done for me.
Restarting classes I mostly felt out of place and obsolete. I couldn’t remember any of the terms or parts of the forms. But after a while it came back. And eventually, I felt at home again.With the help and support of all of the black belts and especially Master Pitcher, for welcoming me back and never giving up on me, even when I did. And my parents being a big support, always understanding and trying to help and push me. I knew nothing could ever make me want to leave. I am not ashamed of my history in Tang Soo Do because, to be completely honest, if I did not quit, I wouldn’t have realized what I was missing and I would probably end up stopping classes altogether when I became a black belt. My experiences gave me the passion and drive that I have today.
Six years have gone by since I started, or at least I think. In those six years I have lost myself, found myself and improved myself. Those two weeks before my test were probably two of the most grueling weeks in my life. I was constantly asking questions and making sure I knew everything I needed to for my test and working on as much as I could to make sure I was that I was the absolute best I could be.
Now that the test has past, I know this is not the end; it is the beginning for me. I have not even begun to understand the meaning of our martial art, but I also know that nothing will stop me from finding out. Black belt brings me one step closer to my ultimate goal, of one day becoming a grandmaster, and owning my own Tang Soo Do school, which will be the best thing I could ever do for myself.
What Does it Mean to Me to be a Black Belt? by Eric Markarian, Adult, 2016
The goal of reaching black belt has been no small task and one that the World Class Institute of Martial Arts does not take lightly. For this, I am grateful. I feel to wear a black belt means something both to the wearer of the belt and to those around them.
My son and I started with WCIMA about 6 years ago, when our lives had been turned upside down by a divorce. Mentally I was hurt, angry, and feeling like a failure as a father, individual and a spouse. Physically I was down to the weight I was at in the eighth grade. Simply put I was a wreck!
WCIMA and everyone there took in our brokenness and treated us as one of their own. In the beginning I can’t tell you how many times going to or looking forward to fight night kept me from snapping at my ex or some innocent person. The small break from life’s troubles that the individual classes provided was nothing short of a lifesaver to me. As a single father, time with my son was the only thing that mattered to me and kept me going in and out of the dojang.
I said back then that this was all for my son, but in time I came to the realization that I had to do this for me too. In order to be the best father, and person, requires me to be my personal best. I am realizing the value of self-commitment and pride for me, and instilling that in my son and anyone else in my life.
Joining the WCIMA has been the best decision I have made for myself and my son as we now have a sense of hard work and accomplishment together, as well as a large family here at the WCIMA. Being a positive impression on the lives of others like being a ninja camp cabin leader, all night party chaperone, or helping others in class has been the most fulfilling aspect of being part of this family that anyone could ask for.
The Cho Dan test was difficult and exhausting but the level of inspiration and support from everyone there kept the reward close in sight.
To Grandmaster Pitcher, Master Watson, all Black Belts and Gups: Thank you for sharing your knowledge, knocking me down, picking me up, showing me the way, and being so patient with me and my son. You all truly make this the best experience possible.
In closing, we are all different people with different attributes, abilities, backgrounds, problems, restrictions, sizes and shapes. But the meaning of receiving and being a black belt remains the same. It means that they, I, we, have grown personally as well as a martial artist! Thank you al