SIMPSON BAY–Taekwondo School “King Yen” hosted a Black Belt graduation for five of its students in the upper room of the Soggy Dollar Bar on Monday evening. The occasion was well supported by many young Taekwondo students and parents.
The successful graduates were Sonny Wongsonadi (2nd Dan), Sherwin Racherds (1st Poom-Junior Black Belt), Shekinah Carbon (1st Poom-Junior Black Belt), Khalil Beeldsnijder (1st Dan) and Julian Fleming (1st Dan). All attained their Black Belt Dan test in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Kukkiwon – World Taekwondo Headquarters – in Seoul, South Korea, for promotion tests. This the seventh time in the young WT Olympic Taekwondo history of St. Maarten that the students of the island have moved up to such a high rank, all tested and promoted by King Yen’s recommender of the Kukkiwon, Grandmaster Theo Liu. While the evening was a celebration for the successful graduates it was also a moment to reflect and appreciate the dedicated work of Grandmaster Liu whose teaching of Taekwondo has changed many people’s lives, children and adults, for the better. A 7th Dan Black Belt, Liu began teaching Taekwondo in 1997 in the Sister Marie Laurence gymnasium. In April 2017 he was decorated with the Order of Orange-Nassau by the King of the Netherlands. Several tributes were read out from former Taekwondo students now in professional careers, among them a Neurologist and a Psychiatrist, mostly living and working abroad, who remembered happy times in St. Maarten at the Taekwondo School, some going back as far back as 25 years. “It was not so much about turning us into fighting machines, but the school was a safe environment to teach discipline, perseverance, sportsmanship, respect, obedience and that helped shape who I am today” said one letter writer. Another wrote: “Sabumnim (master instructor) is still as driven as he ever was. He knows how to motivate, shape, and discipline.” Liu was presented with a plaque in appreciation for his work. “It’s good to receive the flowers when you are still alive,” he said accepting the gesture. “My work is a calling and it continues.” He reciprocated by presenting appreciation awards to Paulien Vuijst, Audrey van de Riet, and his own wife Betty for their tireless work in helping him with the school and on trips abroad. Congratulatory remarks for the new graduates and the school were made by Paediatrician Dr. Peter Offringa and Member of Parliament (MP) Rodolphe Samuel. “I can testify as to what Grandmaster Liu has done for my son, Jonathan, who has now graduated in Holland as an electrical engineer,” said Samuel. “He got his Black Belt here. In Taekwondo you practice and practice until you get better, like in life, never give up until you make it.” The ceremony ended with a demonstration. Next year the Taekwondo School will be competing in tournaments in Puerto Rico, North Carolina and the USA with plans also to compete in China and South Korea.
LINK ORIGINAL: The Daily Herald