International Academic Conference for Taekwondo
On January 23 and 24, 2015 the first ever International Academic Conference for Taekwondo took place on the campus of the College of Education of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. The conference was billed as a collaboration of physical training and academic discourse for all on Taekwondo as a martial art and martial sport in 2015. This important gathering garnered full support from the University, including their Honors College and Office of International and border Programs. The Dean of the Education College Dr. Michael Morehead, Ed.D addressed the group several times and even hosted a dinner for the presenters and organizers. The local Mayor Pro-Tempore Greg Smith was on hand to assist in presenting gifts and certificates to the participants.
The conference was an official World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) sponsored international event. Congratulatory remarks from the WTF President Dr. Choue Chung-Won were shared with those in attendance. Participants attended the event from 5 countries, including several States of America. The visiting nations represented were Mexico, Canada, Kenya and the Republic of (south) Korea. Other sponsors included the American Taekwondo United (ATU), Sang Moo Sa Best Martial Art supply of California and Dr. Ken Min Professor Emeritus University of California at Berkley.
The iACT was conceived to fill a void in North America as Asia and Europe have hosted several academic conferences in the past, with Russia hosting one at the upcoming WTF world championships this May. This 2-day event also looked to combine both the theory of academic research on the first day and physical training in hands on seminars held on the last day. While that approach is somewhat unique and innovative, perhaps the most interesting aspect was that leaders of the WTF and International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) gave presentations in both areas. This was perhaps the first time ever that this happened. It is a sign of the cooperation pledged in the recent accord signed by two leaders, Dr. Choue, Ph.D and Prof. Chang Ung, Ph.D is taking shape and becoming a reality, at least on this weekend at New Mexico State University.
The Co-Chairmen of the conference were Dr. Ron Dziwenka, Ph.D (WTF 7th Dan) of New Mexico State University and Dr. John Johnson, Ph.D (ITF 5th Dan & WTF 4th Dan) of Kyung Hee University in Seoul Korea. The highlighted presenters were keynote speaker Prof. Pak Yong-Chin (WTF 8th Dan) of Iowa State University, the current Chairman of the Advisory Board of the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) and Dr. George Vitale, Ph.D (ITF 8th Dan) whose presentation was on the history of Tae Kwon Do, with a focus on the commonalities of the ITF and WTF, as well as presenting how Korean politics both helped and hampered Tae Kwon Do’s development. Rounding out the organizing committee were Masters Marcy Shoberg of Gold Medal TKD, Justin Castillo – Maximum Martial Arts, both from Las Cruces, and Master Alexander Choi of Choi’s Martial Arts in California.
Richard Alaniz (Principal Master Guro of Balίk Kali Silát) He earned B.A. in Psychology from California State University at Long Beach, Certified by Dan Inosanto (Kali/Silát), Bob Bremer and Pete Jacobs (Jun Fan/JKD) original students of Bruce Lee, and by Grandmaster Jose Mena (Arnis) & Pendekar Herman Suwanda (Pencak Silát Hari Mau). He is an author, shaman, and meditation teacher.
Eui Jeong (Alexander) Choi (WTF 8th dan) He earned a B.A. in Philosophy at Yonsei University (ROK). He was President of the Yonsei Alumni Association of California and has taught Taekwondo in France. He is Special Advisor to the President of American Taekwondo United, and has been operating his two Taekwondo schools in California for over 20 years.
Suzan Crochet (ITF 7th dan) She has a B. Sc. (P.E.) and an M. Sc. Degree in Physical Education (Perceptual Motor & Developmental Delays), and recently retired from her career as a public school educator (1980-2014). She is a highly decorated competitor and coach, having earned multiple Gold Medals in International ITF tournaments. She has earned certification at numerous international instructor courses, and has umpired at international events. She currently holds the esteemed positions of Chief Operating Officer and Midwest Regional Director of the Phoenix Group, and senior member its Promotion Board. In addition, she is Chairman of the Discipline and Reconciliation Committee for the ITF.
Ron Dziwenka (WTF 7th dan) He holds a Ph. D. in East Asian Studies from the University of Arizona and an M.A. from Yonsei University. He has published several papers on martial arts philosophy, and has presented his research at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Scientific Congress as well as at conferences in the Republic of China, Canada, Mexico and the USA. During his 12 years in the ROK, he was a contributing member of the Kukkiwon Research Society. He is currently on the Editorial Board of the International Association of Taekwondo Research, a member of the Society for the Study of Philosophy and the Martial Arts as well as the American Philosophical Society, and Media Representative for American Taekwondo United (ATU).
William Howard (ITF 7th dan) He boxed in amateur Golden Gloves and kickboxing for three years. He began training in Taekwondo when he was 12, and instructing at age 16. He has attended International Instructors Courses with Grandmaster Park Jung Tae and Grandmaster Choi Jung Hwa, as well as training with both at numerous seminars and Masters classes. He has also trained with boxing coaches and attended a seminar with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. He has attended an IIC with General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of TaeKwon-Do, and has been with Grandmaster John Tompkins for 31 years. Master Howard has had a successful competitive career, both individually and on US Teams. He has earned gold medals in patterns, sparring and power breaking. Master Howard also has coached his students to gold medals in sparring, power breaking, and in his specialty, breaking.
Todd Huddleston (WTF 6 dan) He earned a B. Sc. in Mathematics from Northwestern State University, and did graduate level mathematics study at University of North Texas. He began his Taekwondo training in 1978. During his 8 years in ROK training with elite TKD teams, he was an Ambassador’s Cup Tae Kwon Do Gold Medalist (Seoul, ROK) in1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996. He has been running his Yonsei Martial Arts School in New Orleans for over 15 years.
John A. Johnson (KHA 7th dan) He holds a Ph. D. from and is professor in the Humanities College at Kyung Hee University, but his research focuses on Taekwondo Philosophy and Education. He is also the Member-at-Large for the International Association for Taekwondo Research (www.jiatr.org) as well as the copy editor for that organization’s journal. He has lived in South Korea since 1999 and has spent over three decades studying Korean martial arts. He currently holds a 6th dan in Hapkido (Korea Hapkido Federation), 5th dan in Chang Hon Taekwon-Do (International Taekwon-Do Federation), and a 4th dan in Kukki Taekwondo (Kukkiwon).
Greg Jump (HYW Hapkido 9th dan) He began his training in Hapkido in 1974 at the age of 13 in New Mexico. He has been teaching Hapkido since the early 1980s, in Texas and New Mexico. Currently, he is the Grandmaster and President of the Hwa Yu Won Hapkido Association.
Byung Cheol Kim (WTF 7th dan) He is a 5-time world champion, including the Olympic Gold Medal winner in 1992 in the feather weight division. He opened his school in Portland in 1996, and since then he has been teaching over 500 students in 3 locations. He has developed seven 4th degree black belts. He does seminars of sparring drills that you can use in your regular classroom to get students interested in Olympic-style sparring and character development through training.
Je Gyoung Kim (WTF 7th dan) He received his B.A. at Dong-A University in Pusan, Korea in 1991. He was a Korean National Team Member for ten years, from 1991-2000. In 1999, he was selected as a member of the 2000 Olympic Team in Sydney at the trials in Croatia. In the 2000 Sydney Games he was the Korean Olympic Team Captain. He won the Heavyweight Gold Medal in the 1993 World Taekwondo Championships, the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and the 1995 World Taekwondo Championships.
Javier Mayén Mena (WTF 7th Dan) – He earned a Ph. D. in Gestalt Psychology, an MBA, and an M.A. in Public Administration. He is a 2-time Pan American Taekwondo Championships Gold Medalist and Bronze Medal in The 5th World Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Was a member of the Mexican National Team at the1988 Seoul Olympic Games. He is a proud member of the Taekwondo Hall of Fame. He studies the mechanisms of sustainable local development and the environment protection.
Yong Chin Pak (WTF 8th dan, Judo 6th dan) He was a faculty member of the Health and Human Performance Dept. at Iowa State University from 1973 to his retirement a few years ago. He was also the President of the US National Collegiate Taekwondo Association for more than 20 years, starting in 1986. Professor Pak was the official US representative at most of the World University Taekwondo Championships as well as at most of the FISU Summer Universiades during his tenure as President of the US NCTA. He had graduated from the famous Yong In University (former Korean Judo college), and served as a Korean secret service self-defense instructor, before coming to the USA.
Marcy Shoberg (WTF 5th dan) She has a B. Sc. Degree in Chemistry, and is a graduate of the Kukkiwon Foreign Instructor Training Course, a former WTF IR, a certified FAST (Fear Adrenal Stress Training) Instructor, a co-author of the forthcoming “Marketing and Advertising Martial Arts, Fighting Sport, and Self Defense,” and a future instructor of START Women’s Empowerment courses at RMCAT.
George Vitale (ITF 8th dan) He has earned an A.S. B.S. A.A. B.A. (History), M.A. from accredited U.S. Universities, and was awarded his Ph. D. by the State Commission of Academic Degrees and Titles, the official University Degree granting institution of the Democratic People’s Republic of (north) Korea in 2011. He teaches in his hometown of NYC and around the world in his frequent travels researching the history of Taekwon-Do. He has combined his academic education with his police training and experience to gather evidence on Taekwon-Do’s often manipulated history. His efforts have been recognized by several prestigious entities such as the Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame, TKD Times Magazine, the WTF, the International Hall of Fame, the US Taekwondo Grandmasters Society, Kukkiwon and the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation.
Norwood Yamini, D.C. (Tae Kwon Do San dan 1964, Aikibujutsu Nei dan 2014) Dr.Yamini has practiced chiropractic since 1981. He holds advanced certifications in multiple movement disciplines including applied kinesiology and the Egoscue method. He is the author of the Musicians Survival Guide series and creator of the Movement Alignment Technique. Dr. Yamini currently has an active movement therapy and healing practice in Las Cruces, NM.
The Academic Forum portion of the conference was held on January 23rd. Noted scholars and researchers spoke on a wide range of topics including Taekwondo business success, school management and pedagogy, history, philosophy, and injury prevention and treatment.
For example, Dr. George Vitale, the only American to earn a PhD from North Korea, spoke on the importance and impact of Korean politics on Taekwon-Do’s history and the telling of it. Master Suzan Crochet, an educator of students with special needs in an academic setting for 34 years, discussed aspects of Taekwon-Do training that positively add to those students’ lives as well as some of the special modification instructors need to make when teaching them. Other presenters spoke on various topics such as some of the Buddhist aspects in Taekwondo, the need for Taekwondo teaching philosophies, and the benefits of meditation for martial artists.
Business was one of the more salient themes of the academic conference. Several very successful Taekwondo school owners discussed their business strategies and practices. These presenters, such as Grandmaster Euijeong (Alexander) Choi discussed issues such as the mistakes novice Taekwondo school owners make and the proper mindset needed to run a successful school.
Every presenter fielded numerous questions from the audience. Unfortunately, time did not allow for each presenter to answer all of the questions during their presentations. Therefore the organizers opened the floor at the end of the day, so audience members could approach the presenters to expand on their topics in more depth. The conference format offered audience members the opportunity to speak with the presenters one-to-one and ask as many questions as they wanted.
The open-floor policy enhanced and facilitated more Q&A sessions and established an atmosphere of openness and camaraderie. These feelings were further enhanced at the dinners that concluded each day’s activities and the after-conference party at Dr. Dziwenka’s home. All participants and presenters were welcome to attend, and everyone gained even more from each other.
The Physical Training sessions were held on 24th of January. For the first time ever, WTF masters taught alongside ITF masters at an international-level event. The WTF Olympians Masters Byeong Cheol Kim and Je Gyeong Kim focused their classes on general training and class exercises that make hard training fun. ITF Master William Howard focused his session on the importance of conditioning. Hapkido Grandmaster Greg Jump taught several techniques in his art that enhanced all practitioners’ skill levels.
The level of expertise of the conference presenters amazed the participants, some of who came from as far as New York and St. Louis to attend. iACT 2015 was the first time ever that WTF and ITF practitioners, masters, and researchers came together in the spirit of brotherhood. Most importantly, it showed that high-level WTF and ITF practitioners and researchers could come together and share a vision of educational outreach and engagement and collaboration. Attendees were overheard stating the conference “was an outrageous success.”
The two-day conference was sponsored in part by the WTF President Dr. Chungwon Choue. This is significant because the President Choue was fully aware that ITF researchers and instructors would be prominent presenters. WTF regulations require at least four nations to be represented in order for an event to be considered WTF sanctioned event and iACT 2015 met and exceeded that requirement, which made it an official WTF event.
However, as Dr. Johnson stated in his opening address, the WTF and ITF should no longer be adversaries. Instead, they must work together so that each may prosper in technical excellence and knowledge. At every stage of the iACT event it was clear that everyone in attendance embraced this idea.
Presenters and attendees left invigorated and excited about experiencing this unique conference format and were all ready calling for future events. So much so that, organizers Dr. Ron Dziwenka (WTF 7th dan/New Mexico State University) and Dr. John A. Johnson (ITF 5th dan/Kyung Hee University, South Korea) have already announced that the second iACT conference would be held in San Francisco in late January of 2016. In this upcoming event a business seminar component would be added, for Masters and Taekwondo school owners to share ideas on operating their schools more successfully. Join in on a growing second conference to be held in California on January 30, 2016. For information on how to participate in iACT 2016, please contact Dr. Ron Dziwenka (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. John Johnson (email@example.com).
Grandmaster Alexander Choi (Eui-Jeong) (WTF 8th Dan) and Special Advisor to the ATU will sponsor this event. Please check future issues of Tae Kwon Do Times magazine on the upcoming iACT conference. To find out more about the iACT and how you can become involved please visit their FaceBook Page and website: http://www.iactkd.com
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