Martial arts club hosts grand master, holds rank tests

Members of the Tang Soo Do Karate Organization at Virginia Tech with Grand Master Kim.

Members of the Tang Soo Do Karate Organization at Virginia Tech with Grand Master Kim.

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 30, 2010 – On Saturday, April 10, 2010, the Tang Soo Do Karate Organization, one of the largest martial arts clubs at Virginia Tech, welcomed Grand Master C. S. Kim to campus to conduct rank tests for the club members.

Twenty-six students ranging all belt colors completed the tests with Kim.

Kim is a world-renowned martial arts instructor who has been featured in national and international publications and holds many honors including the title of 1970 Korean Heavyweight Champion, the 1995 Black Belt Magazine Man of the Year Hall of Fame inductee, and the president and founder of the International Tang Soo Do Federation.

The Tang Soo Do Karate Organization at Virginia Tech is overseen and sponsored by the International Tang Soo Do Federation, an organization that aims to preserve the art of Tang Soo Do, standardize training for each skill level among schools, and build a community of contacts between martial arts students and instructors.

The Tang Soo Do Karate Organization was founded in fall 2005 by Thomas DuScheid of Bethel Park, Pa., Virginia Tech class of 2009. DuScheid went on to found New River Tang Soo Do and still remains in close contact with the Virginia Tech group. The group focuses on teaching the traditional art of Korean Tang Soo Do, which emphasizes not only attack skills, but also respect, discipline, and character. The group holds classes six days a week during the semester and encourages students to attend at least one or two classes per week. They currently have 30 members of all ages and experience, including seven black belts. At its first tournament in the spring of 2009, and every one of the organization's competitors medaled in at least one event.

Martial arts students are tested every few months on how well their technique has developed and progressed, and their skill level is marked by the color of their belt. Each primary belt color – white, green, red, and midnight blue – represents a phase in the changing of the seasons, a cyclical process which parallels a student's progress as a martial artist.

Michael Okyen, president of the organization, is a senior from Yorktown, Va., majoring in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering. Okyen is currently a 2nd degree black belt, and hopes to continue his training and become a 4th degree or master. Okyen described the meaning of his own belt color: "In Tang Soo Do midnight blue is used instead of a black belt because in Korean culture black is a color of death and completion, while a black belt is really just the beginning of your martial arts journey. Because of the wide use of the term 'black belt', holders of a midnight blue belt are typically referred to as 'black belts.'"

The 2009-2010 officers of Tang Soo Do Karate Organization are:

Written by April Baker. Baker, a junior from Fort Defiance, Va., is majoring in English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.