Two members of the Iqaluit Taekwondo Society recently received their black belts.
Jennifer Ellsworth became a newly minted marshal arts master by earning her first degree black belt while Maryse Mahy received her third degree black belt.
“There are nine degrees when you have a black belt,” explained Mahy. “You have to spend a number of years learning a lot about taekwondo theory and taekwondo techniques, you have to demonstrate that you’re respectful and that you work hard.”
Ellsworth had to demonstrate her physical aptitude and mental toughness to receive her belt, said Mahy.
“You have to be committed to getting to that stage. Around the time of the test she had to run, she had to do a series of push ups and sit ups she had to (write) an essay and then there was a test last Saturday with a six degree black belt,” said Mahy.
In terms of Mahy’s accomplishments she said she was required to show that she had an enhanced understanding of taekwondo.
“It’s just continuing the path to becoming more knowledgeable and improving techniques, how to use the techniques properly in self-defense,” said Mahy.
With the third degree designation, Mahy is now one step away from becoming a qualified instructor. Once a black belt has received their fourth degree, they move from being a part-time instructor to a fully certified instructor.
Iqaluit Taekwondo Society president Pat McDermott said he was proud of their achievements.
“The requirement of a Black belt is a minimum of five years of dedicating your time. It also means using your skills to teach others,” he said. “To see all these people achieve their black belts is such a positive.
“The club is actually growing very well. We have a really great cohort of students coming through that we see at the green and blue belt level. So it’s a really exciting time at our organization.”
Now McDermott and the club are setting their sights on a major international tournament. He and seven other athletes will be travelling to Melbourne, Australia, to compete in the Chan Hun International Taekwondo Federation’s World Taekwondo Championship.
The Nunavut contingent will account for seven out of a total of 39 Canadian athletes travelling to the competition, he said. With the two new designations the Iqaluit club is now home to six different black belts.