On July 30, 31, and August 1st 2010, the Atlantic-Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation hosted its International Championships. The event took place at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Internationals are only held every two years, so this was a very special occasion. Masters, instructors, and students came from all over the United States, and from countries such as Canada, Mexico, Aruba, Australia, and Holland to participate. It was our special privilege to welcome Kwan Jang Nim Stephen G. Washington, Kwan Jang Nim St. James’s instructor and head of our sister organization, the Asia Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation headquartered in Adelaide, Australia. Also in attendance was Kwan Jang Nim James K. Allison, who heads the International Hapkido Sun Moo Kwan Federation. The three Grandmasters form what is called the Asia-Atlantic Alliance, a group of martial arts organizations that are friendly and share martial arts knowledge with each other to the betterment of all.
The championships opened on Friday, July 30, with the black belt competition including breaking. Competition was fierce and ran late into the night. Afterwards was the Federation general clinic. Masters from all over the country and the world offered their expertise, and it was a rare privilege to train with them. Students could choose between studying staff, breaking, advanced sword, shil ki (practical application in hyung), and or Soo Bahk Do. Kwan Jang Nim St. James has asked me to especially thank Sa Bom Nim Phillip Bartolacci, 7th degree and TAC Chair of the U.S. Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation for sharing his expertise of Moo Do and in particular the relationship between weh gong, neh gong, and shim gong. We also want to thank International Master Instructor, Aldwin Lee, 6th degree of the Holland Tang Soo Do Organization for teaching the sword.
The next morning, Saturday, July 31, the opening ceremonies were held. One of the most thrilling orders of business was the presentation of masters’ belts. This was the culmination of the grueling Kodanja that had been taking place all the previous week. Those promoted to master include Master Luke Reinhardt, 4th degree, Master Trevor Becker, 4th degree, and Master James Allison, 4th degree who was receiving his Sah Dan in our federation even though he heads his own organization and holds an 8th degree awarded by Grandmaster Ji, Han Jae . After this, the black belt medals and grand championship cups were awarded. Will Potter of the Birmingham Academy of Martial Arts won the men’s grand championship. Nicole Birbeck of South Australia Tang Soo Do Karate Academy won the women’s, Mark Hensley of Karate World of North Georgia won the seniors’ men cup, and Cassie Bjorge of Karate World of North Georgia won the youth black belt cup. Opening ceremonies wrapped up with demonstrations. The masters gave an awe inspiring demo, as well as Team Asia Pacific Tang Soo Do and Team International Hapkido Sun Moo Kwan. There was also a very special demo from Master Michael Jett of Karate World of North Georgia and Master Luke Reinhardt of East Coast Tang Soo Do in Brisbane, Australia, showing that though they come from opposite sides of the world, their Tang Soo Do and membership in sister organizations is their common bond. In addition, there were demos from twelve different schools throughout the federation.
The gup or color belt competition followed, and it went very smoothly considering the size of the event. I say this as there were nearly 1000 in attendance. Good sportsmanship was shown by all of the competitors. Special team form and concrete breaking divisions were held, and they made an exciting conclusion to the tournament. That evening, there was an awards banquet held at Stars and Strikes in Dacula, GA. Presentations, speeches, and commendations were made, as well as plans to attend the 2011 Asia Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation championships next summer in Australia. Afterwards, everyone celebrated with a night of cosmic bowling, laser tag, bumper cars, arcade games, and good old fashioned Tang Soo Do fellowship.
On Sunday, August 1, the weekend was wrapped up with the championship party at Sterling on the Lake in Flowery Branch, GA. It was an excellent opportunity for everyone to celebrate, unwind, and say goodbye to friends. There was swimming, canoeing, and barbeque. Internationals are fun, and a time for great martial arts, but they are also about meeting new friends and forming bonds with people from around the world. While we live in different places, perhaps speak different languages, and maybe even have slight stylistic differences, we are bound by our love of the martial arts.
Submitted by by Ms. Shanon Jett - Sam Dan