Eleven Members of the Leijona Martial Arts club traveled to St. Charles, IL on March 23-24 for the Soo Bahk Do Region 5 championship. Club advisors Dr. Carolyn Dekker, Assistant Professor of English and Dr. Juan Marin, Associate Professor of Mathematics, club instructor Kyo Sa Nim Shawn Hammond, Senior Art & Design major Zong Deng, Junior Nursing major Charles Patch, Sophomore Philosophy major Harold Noble, as well as five younger community members, were in attendance.
The championship gathered more than a hundred participants from around the Midwest to enjoy clinics, competition, dan (black belt) testing and competition. The weekend included a visit and personal instruction from Kwan Jang Nim H.C. Hwang, the President and Grandmaster of the Soo Bahk Do organization.
For Charles Patch, a Junior Nursing student traveling to regionals for the second time, the highlight of the weekend came early. He describes the “middle of the night check-in to wake up early and line up when the first call comes. Everyone falls silent and rigid as statues, as a hundred voices sound the entrance of our Grandmaster. Our family is finally together.”
At one point during the black belt testing, a candidate became injured, and Patch jumped into action with his first aid kit to help him get taped up and back in the ring to complete the test. Patch came away from the testing experience with a new goal: he wants teach students of his own, and even sit on a testing board some day. In the meantime, Patch was dominant in the adult white and orange belt division, bringing home first place trophies in forms and sparring.
Harold Noble, a Sophomore Philosophy major competing as a white belt, said, “I especially enjoyed getting to observe the demonstration of forms by people of many different skill levels. It was very informative.” In the future, he said, “I would love to continue with learning the forms especially. I think I could learn a lot from this.”
Though she had brought small groups to the tournament in the past, traveling with so many students was a new experience for Dr. Dekker. “I had students in almost every ring during the gup (color belt) competition, so I couldn’t see them all. But I had the pleasure of hearing my students singled out for praise by other instructors. I think we’re starting to make a name for ourselves as bringing students who have great technique, discipline and spirit.”
Dr. Marin, too, enjoyed traveling with the students. “It was an awesome experience to share with the students,” he said. “I learned a lot from them and our instructors as I prepared for the trip. I can’t wait for next year. Soo Bahk!”
Zong Deng, a senior art major and founding member and President of the club, joined the trip as the official photographer. Zong has studied another Korean martial art, Tae Kwon Do, for four years now, and describes the immersion in Soo Bahk Do for the weekend as “a unique cultural experience.” The images in this article are his, as is our gratitude for his encouragement all weekend and his years of efforts on behalf of martial arts at Finlandia.
- Harold Noble receives instruction from Master Cort Stinehour, a special guest from New York.
- Charles Patch and Beto Marin participate in a clinic.
- Charles Patch receives a trophy from Dr. Dekker.
- Dr. Marin mixes it up in the sparring ring.