Don’t try this at home
Published 9:26 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2005
By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Students at Brandywine Elementary School, were given a taste of Korean culture on Monday afternoon.
The UTU XPL Demonstration Team, who are the 2004 World Champions, gave the students a musical martial arts display.
The children ranged in age from 7 to 15 and were here in the United States for two weeks, training and doing different demonstrations.
The students were able to see the children shatter boards, with their hands and feet, as well as acrobatics and gymnastics. They even did a bit of sparring.
Grandmaster Gyung-Chae Lee, who is a ninth dan (black belt) is from Seoul, South Korea and his student Grandmaster Soon Pil Hong Ph.D, of the Universal Athletic Club on Ontario Road in Niles watched over the students during their visit here.
Master Hong, is also the coach of the U.S. Tae Kwon Do team and an instructor at Southwestern Michigan College. He is also affiliated with the University of Notre Dame and Lake Michigan College.
In South Korea, Tae Kwon Do is part of the culture, it is part of the school curriculum and the children there start learning it at an early age.
School there goes year round and the students practice 1 to 2 hours each day, which allows them to be quite skilled at a young age.
The Korean students came to the United States, so that Master Hong's students, who include Brandywine Elementary student Jesse Roberts, could train with the best of the best from Korea, and also to get the word out there about authentic traditional martial arts, including Tae Kwon Do.
Master Hong along with his student Dr. Trevor Neal who is the current director of the Universal American National Tae Kwon Do Union.
The UANTU was founded in 1985 by Master Hong, to give the U.S. practitioners a traditional foundation for their learning and certification.
Teachers were presented with a copy of the March issue of the Tae Kwon Do Times, which features Master Hong and Dr. Neal on the cover, so that the students could learn more about the sport after the presentation.
Dr. Neal became a student of Master Hong in 1998, after researching area dojangs, along with his son Alex who was only three at the time, but he has been interested in martial arts his whole life.
He grew up in Monmouth, Ill. and there wasn't a place there for lessons, so his father would drive the 8-year-old 32 miles, for a half-hour karate lesson. He also was able to take a Judo class at the local YMCA when he was 9.
Choosing Master Hong, was an excellent choice for Neals', in July 2003 they were rewarded with an invitation to South Korea to test for their black belts, at the Kukkikon in front of Master Hong's instructor Grandmaster Lee.
The Neals returned to Korea again last summer to complete their second-degree black belts and regard South Korea as their second home.
They also have attained black belts in Hapkido through Master Hong.
In 2004 Neal was named Secretary General of the Universal Tae Kwon Do Union, which is one of the world's largest Tae Kwon Do, organizations.
He is the first non-Korean to hold an office in the UTU.