PORT HAWKESBURY: Discipline and hard work paid off for Gracie Bowie and Ben Madden as, last Friday night, the two Larade Tae Kwon Do athletes earned a second degree black belt.
“A lot of hard work went into it, especially with the exam pushed forward by two months,” said Bowie, noting that the exam was originally intended to be a little later in the year. “There were a lot of times I was sore and tired, but I still came to class and it paid off.
“It’s a great feeling. It feels like the puzzle is complete now.”
Madden was just as happy as Bowie.
“I’m too happy to put it into words,” he said, just minutes after his second stripe was added to his black belt. “It didn’t feel like work, with the group we have and sir teaching. He [Master Kempie Larade] always knows how to motive you and make sure you are doing your best.”
Both Madden and Bowie are 13-year-olds. Madden attends Tamarac Education Centre, and Bowie is a student at East Antigonish Education Centre and Academy.
The exam consisted of a display of forms (various preset moves), board breaking, and sparring. Presiding over the exam was Master Kempie Larade and Master Bob White. White is the head man in Atlantic Canada for the Chong Lee brand of Tae Kwon Do.
Sadly, the judging table was a little smaller than in years gone by, as Grand Master Chong Lee of Montreal, who made a habit of leading black belt exams at the club, died on July 5, 2017, after battling cancer.
“He was ready,” said White, regarding Lee’s death. “I knew he was dying for the last two years. It’s different now, but I can tell he’s here. It’s just a matter of carrying on his legacy.
“I’m glad people aren’t giving up. I’d never want people to assume I can fill one tenth of his footsteps, but I’m glad we’re sticking together as the Chong Lee family and helping ourselves grow.”
In relation to the Bowie and Madden exam, White said the two athletes did a great job.
“They’re good ones,” he said. “I’ve been watching them and they’re both pretty good.
“I thought the test went great. The forms were very well done, and the board breaking was good. The sparing could have been more intense, but when you train together that can happen.”
White said he’s impressed with the way Larade runs the club, and Larade said the fact that two really good athletes like Bowie and Madden attained their second dan (black belt) shows the club is moving in the right direction.
“Gracie and Ben train really hard,” he said. “They’re die-hards. They’re here every night, and they are great athletes.
“It was different not having Lee at the table, but Master White is a great Master and I enjoy having him down. He’s a wealth of information. When Master Lee passed, he said he wanted Bob and I to stay friends. I never thought of us acquaintances. We talk all the time.”
Larade will be testing for his seventh degree black belt in the next few months.