Four young Sooke residents earn black belt in taekwondo

Dawn Gibson

Sooke News Mirror

At astonishingly young ages, these four kids have fought hard for their success.

Sooke taekwondo students, Presley Banys, 11, Ella McDonald, 14, Luke Hopkins, 11, and Rhys Neveu, 12, earned their black belts after approximately five years of training at Mijo Sport.

Michelle Carpenter, teakwondo instructor and co-owner of Mijo Sport, said the students attended classes twice weekly in Sooke, as well as regularly attended extra classes on Saturdays at Mijo’s location in Esquimalt.

“This is something that I never thought I would achieve,” said taekwondo black belt Ella McDonald. “The best part about getting my black belt is that it’s going to create huge opportunities for me, it could help me obtain a scholarship to get into university. I proved to myself and others around me that if you put your mind to something, it doesn’t matter what age you are, anything is possible.”

The black belt test was held at the Esquimalt Rec Centre on Saturday, June 24th and was approximately four hours in duration.

The test was made up of multiple components including: dynamic kicking combinations (jumping, spinning and flying kicks), poomse, which is a series of routines, for all coloured belt levels before black and the First-Degree Dan Black Belt Poomse, self defence techniques against a peer attacker created by themselves, board breaking using hand and foot techniques and an essay about what Taekwondo means to them.

“They’ve all worked so hard and are such committed and great kids,” said Carpenter. “At times all of them have struggled in various capasities but they have all perservered to get to this big achievement. It’s been a really important journey for these kids and I think it formed them into really positive role models.”

The students are now able to start assisting and learning how to teach their own classes, but can also continue training and in two years can take their second-degree black belt.

“These kids have shown tremendous perseverance and indomitable spirit. Their dedication and passion for the sport resulted in a tremendous performance at their black belt testing,” said Carpenter.

Achieving their black belts means the four students will now become registered First-Degree Poom Black Belts with the Kukkiwon which is the Taekwondo headquarters in Korea.

“You’re dreams don’t work unless you do. I worked so hard to get my black belt and now that I have it I am so incredibly amazed by myself,” said McDonald. “One of my biggest goals is to start teaching, I’ve already started helping out with some classes. I just want to keep training and go as far as I can with it.”


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