Residents of Swan Hills who are curious about martial arts may be interested to know that there is an excellent studio within a reasonable drive. The Whitecourt Taekwondo club has been teaching martial arts since 1979, with quite a few students from Swan Hills over the years.
Taekwondo is a form of martial arts that originated in Korea with distinct punching and kicking techniques. More than simply a form of self-defence, it has been described as a discipline that can show its practitioners ways of enhancing their spirit and life through training their body and mind (teamusa.org/usa-taekwondo/v2-getting-started-in-taekwondo/what-is-taekwondo). Taekwondo is a global sport practiced in over 200 countries around the world. First appearing at the Olympic level as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Seoul Games, Taekwondo became an official medal sport in 2000 at the Sydney games.
Whitecourt Taekwondo trains in a dedicated facility, a double gym with over 3000 square feet of matted floor space with change rooms, a wide array of equipment, and a wall of mirrors. They offer day and evening programming four days a week, with classes for all ages and experience levels.
The club had moved into its present facility just before the pandemic hit, with the COVID-related public health restrictions presenting a host of new challenges. They adapted to the various restrictions through 2020 and 2021, teaching one-on-one classes in people’s homes, offering classes digitally, and teaching modified classes with each cohort of students socially distanced from each other or coming at different times of the day. But with the hard work of a lot of people and a lot of students, they made it through, and now, this fall, they have the highest number of students they have ever had in the club’s history.
One of the characteristics of the club’s teaching style that really sticks out is the focus on positive reinforcement, particularly for the younger students. Jim Rennie, Head Instructor and 7th Dan Black Belt, explains, “The kids that have been given recognition for a good job, that’s such a rare thing in our society these days. How many people come home at the end of the day and say the boss told them, ‘You did a really good job today’? So, if you can do that, ever, in our system, I think that it really goes so much further than the opposite of telling people when they make mistakes. So, we’re really trying to reinforce positive learning environments.”
Whitecourt Taekwondo has travelled extensively with students to train in Asia, with 19 separate trips over the years. One of the club’s next endeavours will be a trip to Thailand in late December with a team of 22 people. They are also planning a trip to South Korea in July 2023.
Contact Whitecourt Taekwondo by phone at (780) 778-0202 or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on the club and their activities. Visit the club’s website (whitecourttaekwondo.com) and Facebook page (facebook.com/whitecourttaekwondo) for the latest news and updates.
Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette