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home : sports : sports May 23, 2016

5/13/2014 12:55:00 PM
Two pass arduous test for black belt
Shawn Kelm and Tristan Kaczmarek recently tested and earned black belts with Outlaw Martial Arts. photo by Gary Yoder
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Shawn Kelm and Tristan Kaczmarek recently tested and earned black belts with Outlaw Martial Arts. photo by Gary Yoder

By Gary Yoder

Outlaw Martial Arts taekwondo students Shawn Kelm and Tristan Kaczmarek recently completed a five-hour test and were awarded black belts.

Kelm, age 9, is a student at Sisters Christian Academy and has been training at Outlaw Martial Arts for almost four years.

"Most 9-year-olds don't have the attention span to accomplish this goal," said Master Marty Kaczmarek (Master K), founder of Outlaw Martial Arts. "Shawn has been really focused on earning his black belt."

Tristan Kaczmarek, Master K's son, is 15 and a sophomore at Sisters High School. He has trained for over five years.

"Achieving first-degree black belt is extremely challenging and time-consuming," said Master K. "Teenagers generally have a lot going on and other things to think about, so obtaining this goal is impressive. It takes discipline. It's also kind of cool that Tristan got his first-degree black belt at the same age I was when I got mine."

The two began the test with a mile run followed by a one-hour meditation.

"My biggest challenge for the whole test was the meditation," said Tristan.

"An hour is a long time to sit completely still," said Master K. "It's a test of perseverance."

After the meditation came poomsae. They performed all the taeguk color belt forms, a black belt form and a weapons form using a bow staff. Then they each demonstrated a creative form. A creative form is one where the student designs his own form, making the pattern to follow and the stances, kicks, punches, blocks, etc. to be performed.

The test continued with each demonstrating his skill and knowledge of the fundamentals of the art, including all the different types of strikes, blocks and stances. Then came "self-defenses," where the student shows how he would respond to an attack in a real-life situation. Each demonstrated a defense in 10 different altercation scenarios.

That was followed by sparring, with each sparring with one opponent for two rounds and then one round against three opponents. Sparring is full-contact.

The test culminated with a demonstration of their striking power and skill by breaking one-inch-thick pine boards. Each broke eight boards with striking combinations of their choosing.

"Earning your black belt doesn't come easily," said Master K. "There's no overnight success, or instant gratification. It takes years of hard work. It's not uncommon for young martial artists to treat first-degree black belt as the ultimate goal and stop training after reaching it. These two young men are continuing their journey."

"Becoming a black belt means I've mastered the fundamentals," said Tristan. "The moves come more naturally and you flow with what your opponent gives you. But I know there's so much more to learn."

Like Tristan, Shawn is now working toward earning his second-degree black belt.

"I'll keep doing taekwondo," he said. "I do other sports, but I make time for taekwondo."

Tristan is also training in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

"I want to get my black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and then go on to judo and then maybe aikido," he said. He explained the martial-arts experience this way: "Martial artists chase perfection knowing they will never achieve it."

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