LETTER FROM MR. BLAKELEY
I have tweeked our class schedules to allow myself more time with the black belts. The first and third Mondays of each month I will be working with black belts during the 7:45 pm adult class. The second and fourth Monday nights of each month will be adult advance colored belt class for the green through black stripe students. I hope this does not slow the progress of our advanced colored belts. If I felt it would I would have developed a different strategy. However, in the past black belts have only had one workout per month and those were a little spotty at times.
All I ask in return from the black belts is that they let me know in advance if they are not going to be able to attend this workout. My cell number is 505.760.9416 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org I do not believe this is too much to ask for my extra time.
ENMTKD QUALIFIES FOR ENGLAND
This article ran in the Portales News Tribune in early May.
Qualifying for the Taekwon-Do World Championships is quite an accomplishment for a small school in rural New Mexico, but to do it twice is truly amazing. However, that is exactly what Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do has done. Four black belts have qualified to compete at the highest level possible in Taekwon-Do, the ITF World Championships. This compares to the Olympics of most sports.
On April 28 and 29, 2007, Steve Blakeley, owner and senior instructor of Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do, took five black belt students to Pleasanton, California to qualify for the ITF World Championships, to be held in England later this year. To qualify in the United States, a black belt must earn a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal in their events.
The ITF World Championships will be held in Birmingham, England the first week in August. Over 45 countries competed at the event in 2004. So Portales’s black belts will be competing against the best in the world come early August.
The four students who qualified are John Bridges,V Dan, Audra Brown, III Dan, Mark Yoesting, I Dan, and Danielle Houston, I Dan. John Bridges, earned a Silver medal in patterns competition. However, John was injured in his second event, sparring, and may not be able to compete at the World Championships. Audra Brown, earned a Gold medal in sparring and a Bronze medal in Patterns. Mark Yoesting, earned a Gold medal in patterns.
Danielle Houston, received
a Bronze medal in Patterns.
Mr. Keane Brown, 1st Degree
black belt, the youngest black
belt in the group was
unsuccessful in his first attempt
to qualify. Mr. Blakeley stated;“he was very proud of Keane.
He has just turned 13 which
made him one of the youngest
Mr. Blakeley a 6th Degree black belt has owned and operated a Taekwon-Do school in the local area for over 30 years. Mr. Bridges, 5th Degree black belt, Mr. Blakeley’s senior student, has been in Taekwon-Do for over 24 years.
Ms. Audra Brown, 3rd Degree black belt, has been a student of Mr. Blakeley for 11 years. This is her second time to qualify for the World Championships. In 2005 Ms. Brown earned a Bronze medal in breaking in South Korea.
Mr. Mark Yoesting, 1st Degree black belt, has been a student of Mr. Blakeley’s for 15 years. This is Mr. Yoesting second time to qualify for the World Championships. He also competed in South Korea in 2005.
Ms. Houston, 1st Degree black belt, has been a student of Mr. Blakeley’s for 8 years. This will be her first time to compete at this level of competition.
Several fund raising events are being planned to help these competitors defray trip expenses. ENMTKD will hold several car washes and a garage sale between now and the end of July, when they leave for competition in England.
MR. BLAKELEY INDUCTED INTO
HALL OF FAME
On April 29, 2007, Mr. Blakeley was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He was notified by Dr. Jim Thomas Cofounder of the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, California and was invited to the presentation to be held on June 2, 2007. Because of a conflict Mr. Blakeley could not attend but received his belt and Certificate in July of 2007. Mr. Blakeley become only the fourth instructor in the state of New Mexico to be inducted in to the “Hall of Fame.”
Mr. Blakeley was nominated by several Martial Artists from area schools. It came as a total surprise when he was notified by Dr. Thomas. The belt will be displayed in Mr. Blakeley office.
BLACK BELT TESTING 07/07/07
What was unique about this test?
ITF TAEKWON-DO WORLD
The first order of business was to find the tournament venue and the easiest way to get there. It was only a short walk from the hotel down a very scenic boat lined canal. With that taken care of it was time to check out the rest of the neighborhood. Birmingham is a very large city with a population of 971,000 residences. It seems we are in a decent part of town and walking at night should not be a problem. The Brown’s have made reservations within a block of the rest of us and they are even closer to the venue. Danielle is rooming with Gabriele Finny from California and walks the extra few blocks back and forth each day. The ENMTKD group are all located within a few blocks of each other and find it easy to get around on foot, no taxi needed.
On Tuesday morning, July 31, 2007, the 78 member USA Team and seven coaches gathered in the lobby of the Jury Inn to begin the weigh-in and registration process. Early afternoon and the USA Team is registered and weigh-in complete. A coaches meeting is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. but did not get started until about 7:00 p.m. because some of the teams had not completed their paperwork properly. Mr. Blakeley and the other six USA Team coaches checked the bracket sheets and finished up by about 9:00 p.m.
On the morning of Wednesday, August 1, 2007, the ITF World Championships are set to begin. There are 36 countries gathered at the NIA of Birmingham England. This is the venue for the highest level of Taekwon-Do competition possible. Master Nichols welcomes everyone and then introduces Grandmaster Choi Jung Hwa. This is the only son of General Choi Hong Hi the founder to Taekwon-Do. GM Choi makes a short speech which is followed by a laser light show and the competition begins. The gym is laid out with nine rings, eight on the out side and one in the center which will be used for the finals. They are trying something new this year. Each ring has a big screen that shows the scores of each competitor and how they were scored by the judges. By 4:00 p.m. that afternoon the first competitors are called to their rings. Several of the countries did not bring the required number of umpires so only five rings can be used.
The first of our black belts to compete this evening is Ms. Audra Brown she will be sparring a Canadian black belt. Just as she pads up and prepares to compete they announce it is time to end for the evening. It is 9:30 p.m. and we have been at the gym since 9:00 a.m.
Thursday, August 2, 2007, 10:30 a.m., Ms. Brown is called to the ring to spar. The new matts are causing some problems for the fighters because they are slick. The first round is all Ms. Brown’s. The second 2 minute round did not end as we had hoped. She ran out of energy and was out scored. That’s one of the disadvantages of not being on a professionally paid team she could have been training everyday instead of driving a tractor.
It was now time for Mr. Yoesting and Ms. Houston to prepare for patterns competition. At about 5:00 p.m. Danielle is called to compete in ring 4 against a black belt from Ireland. She seemed pretty calm considering this is the first time she has competed at this level. There are only a few thousand folks watching from the stands and the gym is very loud. The judges call for the compulsory pattern the competitors go head-to-head. Now it is the pattern of their choice. Ms. Houston competed well and has nothing to be ashamed of. The young lady from Ireland is a strong competitor.
Soon afterwards it was Mr. Yoesting’s turn to show his stuff. He is called to the ring to compete against a Canadian black belt. His compulsory pattern was flawless. It helps that he has competed at this level before. Then the two competitors perform the pattern of their choice. Mr. Yoesting competed well but the gentlemen from Canada won. Until a person has competed at this level it is hard to understand the pressure. Competitors train for several months, raise money, and then spent several hours in airports and on planes to get to the competition. Competitors spend a week sleeping in a strange bed and eating what can be even stranger food.
It was a tough day for ENMTKD black belts. However, lets put things into perspective. These three black belts are competing with the best 400 black belts in the world. Some of these teams are professionally paid competitors. They are paid a salary to train and prepare for this competition. It is what they do for a living.
ENMTKD’s three have to work jobs, raises money to make the trip, and train when they can. That puts them at a serious disadvantage. Mr. Blakeley likes to say, “there is not a bad competitor at this level of competition even the ones that do not medal are the best their country has to offer. Win, lose, or draw it is a privilege to compete here and never anything to be ashamed of. We should be very proud of our black belts. They are the Best of the Best.” Remember, they still earned Gold and silver medals as the best the US has to offer.
Friday, August 3, 2007, is kind of an off day for ENMTKD black belts none of them compete today. However, Mr. Blakeley as team coach has to be at the gym bright and early. Every USA competitor must be accompanied to their ring and back by a team coach. The competitors must warm-up in a adjoining room and can not hear their names announced. So each competitor has to be tracked down when their name is called that keeps the team coaching very busy. Most of the time the coaches do not even get a break to eat all day. The USA Team has 78 competitors competing in three events using five rings. Things get a little hectic for the coaches getting all the team members to their positions. They only announce the name three times before the competitor is disqualified.
Saturday, August 4, 2007, is an off day for even the coaches. It is time to get on the train and see some country. The first stop is Salisbury, England, home of Stone henge. The ENMTKD group crawls on the train in Birmingham at 6:00 am for the four hour train trip. After arriving in Salisbury it is a 20 minute bus ride to the site of Stone henge. Each of the group receives an audio player to listen to as they tour the site. This is quite a site and there are tourists from all over the world visiting this site each day. There are over 20 bus loads with tourist already on site when they arrive. The site takes about an hour to tour and then it is time for a quick visit to the gift shop for goodies. This is where the group parts ways, the Brown Family check out the rest of Salisbury and Mr. Blakeley, Mr. Yoesting, and Ms. Houston take the hour long train ride to Waterloo Station in London. After walking to Buckingham Palace and a few other sites the group decides it is time to ride. So Mr. Yoesting hailed a bus, and the group took a two hour bus tour of London; it was much easier than walking. It was soon time to eat dinner and return to the train station for the trip back to Birmingham and the finals competition.
Sunday, August 5, 2007 the last day of competition so everyone arrives back at the NIA gym early to prepare. Today are the finals and Ms. Brown has center stage for III Dan patterns competition. She is competing with one of Master Jue’s black belts from California. Her first pattern is flawless. However, the slightest of a bobble in balance during her second pattern and she has a Silver Medal not gold. Nothing to sneeze at.
Sunday evening the medals are awarded and Ms. Audra Brown receives her Silver Medal from Master Wheatly. The ENMTKD group takes pictures, and then out to celebrate another good competition. It is very disappointing not to medal at this level of competition. However, few can even say they have earned the right to even compete at this level. This puts these ENMTKD black belts in a group of very elite black belts, only 400 in the world, not bad.
How would you like to be put in the top 400 richest people in the world?
Monday, August 6, 2007 the group is up early to be at the airport by 7:00 p.m. It is time to head home and the trip for Mr. Blakeley, Mr. Yoesting and Ms. Houston was rather uneventful, but still long. However, the Brown’s have a different story to tell, ask them what happened. It would take to long to add it to this article.
CAN YOU ANSWER THIS ENMTKD HISTORICAL QUESTION?
The first five persons that can answer this question will receive a gift certificate for $5.
Who was Mr. Blakeley’s first Taekwon-Do instructor?
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