A group of six local Taekwon-Do students took another step toward becoming masters of their discipline Thursday, Aug. 30, when they earned black belts at the Northwest Taekwon-Do Karate studio in Hood River.
After intense testing and hand-to-hand combat, all six junior students who went before the Black Belt Council were awarded either first- or second-degree black belts in international-style Taekwon-Do.
Ernesto Marquez and Ed Hrebec of Hood River, and Doug Teel and Desmond Fuller of White Salmon, Wash., were promoted to First Dan ranking, while James Breckierfield of Mosier and Ty Freemantle of Lyle, Wash., were promoted to Second Dan.
First-degree candidates all had at least three years of training at Master Gary Muma's Hood River school. Second-degree candidates had at least five years training.
All candidates were required to perform traditional fighting forms, or "Hyungs," do an extensive demonstration of basic and advanced blocks, hand strikes, kicks, and combinations of basics.
They then answered a series of questions posed by the panel of judges, and were asked to performrandom demonstrations of two-man self-defense sets.
Second-degree candidates also had to demonstrate basic weapons disarming sets, and knife hand strikes on a stack offive pine boards. Each participant broke at least two boards, but Breckierfield broke all five with a powerful follow-through strike.
The final event of testing was free sparring, in which each student fought against one another for one minute, two against one for one-half minute, and three versus two for one-half minute.
After an exhausting two hours, the panel ofjudges unamimously voted to pass all six candidates to their black belt degrees.
In addition to Muma, the other judges attending the demonstration were Fourth Dan Heith Miller, Third Dans Jeremy Schultz and Andy Miller, Second Dans Frank See and George Evans, and First Dans Ann Maslen and Vanessa Miller.
Muma was promoted to the Master rank in 1991, and has been a student and instructor of international-style Taekwon-Do for 25 years. He has continuously operated the Northwest Taekwon-Do school at 1203 12th St. in Hood River since 1978.