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Sixth level black belt works with Arviat taekwon-do students

Students in a new taekwon-do club began learning from a sixth-degree black belt in Arviat last week.

Taekwon-do is the Korean art of self-defense.

Jim Ripley of Amherst, N.S., was brought to Arviat by Don Peters, who started the taekwon-do club with his spouse, Joanne, this past February.

Taekwon-do students from left, Neevee Angalik, Jayden Angalik, Katy Suluk and Jonathan Campbell get some instruction from master instructor Jim Ripley in Arviat on Oct. 24. Photo courtesy of Don Peters

Peters said the Arviat club has been funded through the Government of Nunavut’s Sport and Recreation Division to hold a number of workshops to help develop the local club.

He said he was very fortunate Ripley’s schedule allowed him to visit Arviat conduct the workshops,

“We conducted workshops on taekwon-do introduction in the elementary, middle and high schools this past week,” said Peters.

“In addition to that, Mr. Ripley has brought his expertise in to work with our students who are all at, or about, the while belt or yellow belt level.

Master instructor Jim Ripley, back, watches carefully as taekwon-do students, from left, Neevee Angalik, Katy Suluk, Jonathan Campbell and Jayden Angalik work on their striking ability in Arviat on Oct. 24. Photo courtesy of Don Peters

“We have 27 students in these gradings, so we’re quite excited about that.”

Ripley said there are 10 different levels of colour belts in taekwon-do starting with the white belt and going all the way up to black stripe, which is the last step before becoming a full black belt.

He said among the Arviat students, some will be tested to move from white belt to yellow stripe, from yellow stripe to yellow belt, from yellow belt to green stripe and from green stripe into their green belt.

“We put them through set-requirement testing,” said Ripley.

“They must perform self-defense, proper techniques of kicking, and what we call three-step sparring based on the specific patterns of each belt level.”

Ripley said taekwon-do is an art specifically designed for self-defense only.

He said over the years, the sport side of taekwon-do has been developed and participants now compete in the ring with sparring.

“If you’ve seen the Olympics, that is the World Taekwon-do Federation (WTF) style of sparring which is mainly just kicking,” he said.

“In the International Taekwon-do Federation (ITF) system, we use hand-and-foot techniques. If you make a punch and score on a specific point of the body, you get one point. If you make a kick between the waist and shoulders you earn two points and if you can score one on the helmet you score three points.

“At the end of the match, the one with the most points is the winner.”

The Arviat club has grown to more than 40 youth members since having seven its first night and has since been opened-up to the entire community.

The club now boasts family members and senior members, with its youngest member being five years old.

Ripley said he sees great things for the club moving forward.

He said the Arviat students are dedicated, eager to work and quick to learn.

“It’s amazing to see how far they’ve come in such a short period of time, especially when they don’t practice with the club over the summer.

“If I can share my passion for taekwon-do with someone to help give them better insight and understanding into what we actually do, I’m fulfilling my part in honouring our founder, Gen. Choi (Hong Hi), who passed away back in 2002, and helping to spread taekwon-do throughout the world.”

Ripley said one of the golden rules with his students is that he does not allow street fighting of any kind, and he has expelled two of his taekwon-do students for breaking that rule.

He said he also does not allow his students to show-off to their friends or try to teach them taekwon-do they’ve learned.

“If you just show-off to your friends and they go out and try it, they could actually hurt someone quite badly,” he said.

“So, if someone breaks my golden rules, my doors are closed to that person.

“From day one, taekwon-do is strictly self defense; defending yourself, your family members, or someone desperately in need of assistance because they are unable to protect themselves.

“You’ll always have people who are there for all the wrong reasons, but, in the teachings, we pray and hope that we can convince them of the right path to take.”

Ripley, 65, started with taekwon-do 35 years ago and said he plans to keep on practicing it until his body won’t allow it anymore.