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Black belts at age 11 and 62

Contributed photoFrom left, recent black belt recipients Kendra Quezada, Deb Burkholder, Norah Boucher, Jacob Wadsworth, Durga Reed and Anton Freeman.
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Age is no respecter of boards and bricks, as this year’s 11- to 62-year-old black belt testers broke all their boards and bricks during the curriculum portion of the annual PRO-TKD black belt test.

The boards were covered with writing and pictures of student’s fears, and each tester explained those fears to a panel of judges before smashing them with kicks and punches.

The group demonstrated their martial art skills, as well as their character.



Remember the days when gentlemen opened the door for ladies and “please” and “thank you” were a common thing? Children had respect for their parents, teachers and elders. Answers to questions were, “Yes sir,” or, “Yes, ma’am.”

The characteristics of respect, good manners, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, courage, discipline and patience were alive and well, as six members of the Roaring Fork Valley became black belts last Sunday evening after a 48-hour test. This year’s members varied in age from 11 to 62.



PRO-TKD Martial Arts Center of Carbondale proudly tied black belts on 11-year-old Norah Boucher of Carbondale, 14-year-old Jacob Wadsworth of Silt, 14-year-old Anton Freeman of Carbondale, 15-year-old Kendra Quezada of Carbondale, 14-year-old Durga Reed of Carbondale and 62-year-old Deb Burkholder of Carbondale before a crowd of family, friends, martial art peers and distinguished judges, including Grand Master Han Lee, a two-time Olympic medalist and Olympic coach.

This annual test takes place in the first part of August, beginning Friday evening and concluding Sunday evening. The test covers a wide variety of curriculum that all the candidates have practiced, as well as many team building, endurance and self-overcoming aspects that transform their character and build an understanding of who they are.

By Sunday evening, they all have ownership in a confidence that will help them navigate the rest of their life.

On Monday, when they shared their experiences and victories with their teammates at the PRO-TKD Center, their transformation was apparent to all. Sure, they have great punching and kicking skills because they are martial artists, but they also have an understanding of the “Do” of Taekwondo, the way. They have spent many hours of meditation on various topics of life to search deep and understand a piece of their purpose and their destiny.


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