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Vaillancourt promoted to 8th degree black belt

Posted: Friday, Mar 29th, 2013

Grandmaster C. I. Kim presents Dana Vaillancourt his 8th degree certificate. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

HURON — For some folks, after over 35 years of teaching, they are thinking about retiring. 

For Huron resident and Nordby Center for Recreation (NCR) Tang Soo Do instructor Dana Vaillancourt, when it comes to martial arts training and teaching, he is still focused in his pursuit of excellence and bringing himself to the next level. 

After almost 37 years of continuous training in the Korean martial arts, Dana recently travelled to Chicago to train and test for his 8th degree black belt in front of his instructor Grandmaster Chung IL Kim, president of the International Association of Korean Martial Arts (IAKMA). 

Grandmaster Kim is a legend in the Tang Soo Do world and Dana considers himself extremely fortunate to have him as his mentor. 

While some folks at this high rank rest on their proverbial laurels, both Grandmaster Kim and Dana believe in staying active in their training and Vaillancourt’s 8th degree black belt test reflected this philosophy. 

This test consisted of performing basic and advanced hand and kicking technique, block-counters, self-defense, free fighting, forms and breaking under Grandmaster Kim’s watchful eye. 

After a positive review of his performance, Grandmaster Kim promoted Dana to 8th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do. 

In an art with only nine degrees, 8th and 9th degrees are typically considered “Grandmaster” status; although Dana feels that his association only has one “Grandmaster” and that is his instructor.

Most people do not realize that in the Korean martial arts there are nine degrees of black belt, going from first through ninth. 

Each degree level has progressive curriculums, time and teaching requirements.  For instance, Vaillancourt had been a 7th degree black belt for over eight years and in that time; he has promoted students from white belt beginner through second degree black belt.  He notes that getting a first degree black belt should not be considered an end goal of a student’s training because it is really just the beginning of a richer lifetime learning experience and journey. 

When asked why he continues to train, teach and work towards his next promotion (9th dan has a 9-10 year minimum time requirement), Vaillancourt says,  “It is important to me that I maintain a relationship with a senior Grandmaster as I appreciate their mentorship and wisdom.  While I’ve been doing this for a long time, Grandmaster Kim has another twenty or so years on me and is able to provide me feedback that makes me a better martial artist and teacher. I also think it is important for my students and instructors to know that I also have an instructor and am actively training and learning as well. Several of my senior students, who are school owners and Master instructors in their own right, have told me that my continued training and testing has also motivated them in their training. Also, the higher rank I attain, the better able I am to teach and move my senior black belt students to the next level.  However, at the end of the day, I just feel blessed to still be healthy and have a great group of students and instructors to work with.”

For the complete article see the 03-28-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-28-2013 paper.

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