Black belt honors highlight competition

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The Colorado Taekwondo Institute's 2006 All-City Championship in Lakewood will always be a special one for the Walker family.

Jason Walker, the instructor of the Colorado Taekwondo Institute, Craig Campus, watched his daughters Brittany, 10, and Chanda, 12, test for and pass their requirements to be black belts in the taekwondo style of moo sul kwan.

Of the 268 participants at the tournament, the sisters were the only ones to earn the elite belt.

"It was really challenging because we had a five-hour physical test in a hot stuffy room and it felt like it took forever," Chanda said. "The eight-hour written test was tough, too."

The girls have worked their way to black belt for six years.

"We help dad when he needs it," Chanda said. "Since he's our instructor we get pushed the hardest."

The sisters aren't done learning. There are nine degrees of black belt. It will take longer to earn those degrees than it did to move up the colors in belts.

To move up to the first degree will take two years of study and practice. After the fifth degree is earned, one is considered a master. After the seventh degree the title of grand master is earned.

Moo sul kwan translates to "martial arts school" in English. The discipline involves more than the physical requirements.

"You have to study a lot about the history and knowledge of taekwondo," Chanda said. "It has made me a better student in school because of the discipline it takes."

Seth Morgan, 10, and Hugo Hernandez, 7, are starting to learn what moo sul kwan is about. They competed in their first tournament when they went to Lakewood.

"It was hard for me to get my yellow belt," Seth said about his first advancement. "The sparring was the hardest part."

The tournament is divided into age group and belt level. There are generally three disciplines: sparring, poomse (pattern movement) and breaking. Walker said the competitions are in a controlled environment and a student is judged on flexibility, form and technique.

Seven of the 10 competitors from Craig who went to Lakewood were first-timers like Seth and Hugo.

They both earned awards with Seth finishing fourth in sparring and poomse. Hugo was fourth in sparring and third in poomse. "It was big," Seth said. "I was nervous at first."

Hugo agreed that the big stage was intimidating.

"It was a little scary," he said.

The CTI moved from a location on Victory Way to Barclay Street, west of the Bank of Colorado.

Jason Walker said the students of CTI learn about the history and traditions of taekwondo while developing their self-esteem and improving their fitness level.

The school practices weekly and competes in a competition every three to four months. For information, call Jason Walker at 824-1692.

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