Martial arts school has new stable of black belts

February 7, 2019 by  

Medicine Hat’s Fire Dragon is one of Alberta’s largest taekwondo schools, and its growth can be seen in the unusually high number of black belts the gym recently certified. A total of 23 students obtained the martial art’s highest rank this January.

The test involves 24 hours of fasting without sleep, followed by a physical demonstration of the applicant’s skill and 30 minutes of motionless meditation – which some practitioners say is the most difficult part.

Fire Dragon instructor Jason Handley said that the high number of new black belts was due to a double cohort of sorts, with the ceremony recognizing two different groups who had taken tests in May and December of 2018. With over 300 students training at Fire Dragon, they typically send over a dozen applicants to black belt trials, who support each other in their quest for martial arts honours. The successful trialists this time range in age from 11 to 50.

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that specializes in ferocious kicks. Like other martial arts, it experienced a renewed interest with the rise of mixed martial arts. Famous MMA competitors like Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis have integrated taekwondo into their fighting styles. Local gyms like Fire Dragon then try to attract interested people through tools like poster printing, social media and flyer printing.

Fire Dragon, which was founded by Mark Pellerin 25 years ago, currently offers classes for both children and adults at different experience levels.