year, 2018, was another great one! In addition to these there were many demos, kicking
pictures taken around the world, new students, setback and victories. See some
of the highlights of the last 12 months, in no particular order.
RMMAF Banquet and
Tenant Awards – The 1st
annual Rocky Mountain Martial Arts Foundation banquet was a huge success! We
had a ton of fun and raised nearly $6,000 for our foundation’s endowment. Thanks
to everyone who donated, especially to GM Ghassan for ‘generously’ donating
back kicks. See all the winners and pictures at https://kattaekwondo.com/2018-rmmaf-banquet-and-tenant-awards/
Black Belts – KAT Awarded 30 new black belt
ranks, including 14 1st dans, 9 2nd dans, 3 3rd
dans, and 4 4th dans in the fall and spring tests.
KAT Head Master Sword – After many years we finally
finished the KAT Head Master sword. It is likely the only sword in the world
made from bulletproof glass, meteorite shards, a GPS tracker, rayskin, etc. https://kattaekwondo.com/kat-head-master-sword/
Sport Poomsae Team – Instructor Cat Tong and Master
Katie’s forms class is doing great, with many black belts coming back to train.
Look for this team to have special results in the future!
KAT Starts BJJ Class – Although the grappling techniques
we have been teaching since 2004 have helped many students defend themselves in
real life, we wanted to kick things up another level with the addition of a
full BJJ curriculum. We are thrilled to be working with Tom Lynn and Academy
Martial Arts under Ghost Squad BJJ. This will have a big impact on the kind of
training we can offer in the future.
Championships – The
2018 White Tiger Championships was our biggest tournament ever, with 375+
competitors (except 2010 Collegiate Nationals). We even had a team from Iraq
come to train with us and attend the event.
Tournament Results – KAT had another great year in the
ring. We took 3rd overall in state, making 7 of the last 8 years
where we finished with a top 3 ranking. In the US Nationals, we earned the most
sparring medals (11) that our school ever has. https://kattaekwondo.com/2018-us-nationals-results/
New Handbooks – 2018 saw the publication of the 4th
edition of the KAT Handbook, which split the content into versions for color
belts and black belts.
Scholarship – Josh K won the Michael Pottle memorial
scholarship to attend college in Hawaii. Josh was the first person to go from
little tigers to black belt at KAT, and the first American to win a gold medal
in the 12-14 year old world championships.
License Plate – Former students Daisy and Gabriel
stood next to Gov Hickenlooper as he officially created a childhood cancer
license plate for CO.
Mike Duran – Mike passed away suddenly this year
and was honored with KAT’s 2nd ever posthumous black belt which was
presented at his funeral.
SwordQuest Movie in Theater – Our summer camp completed a 5 yearproject to get the Lands of Daranortrilogy made into a feature length movie. The movie premiered in the MovieTavern in Aurora. It’s been amazing to literally watch these kids grow up during the production. See the Movie
I want to take a minute to say how proud I am of all the athletes, coaches, parents and staff who are part of KAT Network. Last week we were operating at a high level in 4 different states (CO, NV, UT and FL) at the same time. The crazy part was that Master Katie Pottle and I were even able to spend some important holiday time with her family in the midst of everything going on. .
Master Samuel Douglas, Master Bethany Brook Melnick, Master Jacob Gallegos and Instructors Tadan Fĺíghţ Rose and Mahayla took care of classes while Master Kamil, Master Matt and SirGregory Salonis were taking care of business at Nationals.
I only trained most of these competitors sporadically, all I did was put the right instructors in the right places and try to support them as best as I could.
I think Lotus School for Excellence has really set a new standard for academic schools funding their Taekwondo teams as they do with the rest of their sports, and the results speak for themselves.
I am super proud of STORM TAEKWONDO CO for getting to such a high level so soon after taking over a full time dojang.
Besides the medals, it’s important to me that everyone conducts themselves as a martial artist should. Grandmaster JK Chung used to say “If you have bad discipline, I don’t care if you win the Oympics – I won’t even give you a yellow belt.” I am happy to have this fine group of people representing what our dojang stands for.
The Rocky Mountain Martial Arts Foundation held its first ever annual banquet, and it was a huge success. Over $5,000 was raised for their endowment, which will help to support black belt athletes into the future.
The Ring Toss was a big hit!
Ind. Spirit award Ins. Julie Mancuso posing with Emcee GM Ghassan.
The event featured amazing Moroccan food, a riveting live auction, and over 50 items in the silent auction. The 2018 KAT Tenant Awards were also announced. Congratulations to everyone who put such hard work in getting everything ready, especially RMMAF President Marsha Adkins, Treasurer Melissa Kimpling-Stern, and Marilyn Minjarez-Guzman.
Tenant Award Winners:
Kick of the Year: Ins Sir, Back Kick, CO State Championships
Submission of the Year: Ins Mahayla, Triangle Choke, White Tiger Championships.
There are 3 ceremonial items for the current head of KAT. We have a ring, a blue and silver belt, and the KAT Head Master’s sword. After 6 years under construction, the sword is finally finished.
The sword embodies our school motto, “A Mind in the Future and a Heart in the Past.” The sword was made with both very traditional techniques and materials as well as very new ones. The blade is a combination steel/lexan (bulletproof glass) and the blade also contains meteorite shards, a GPS tracker, school records, and security tools.
Part of the reason construction took so long was that it is believed to be the first sword of its kind ever made. Master Katie and I needed to reach out to experts in several domains including Steven Campbell (Blacksmith, Metalworker), Master Sam Douglas (Mechanical Engineer), and John Hoffman (Master Woodworker).
The sword took so long because it was usually on the back burner, it was our first time combining these various skills together, and it is believed that this is the first of this type of sword ever constructed. Here are the general instructions and some pictures we took along the way.
The tsuba is made in the shape of the KAT logo with a hole in the middle for the blade. It was made by casting mint proof coins that had never been touched by human hands from 1980, the year the school was founded.
Before casting, we hand carved a wax model and embedded meteorite fragments to form the mountains of the KAT logo. We made a plaster negative, burned out the wax, and then melted the coins and poured it into the mold.
We wanted a silver finish, so we first treated the tusba with a coke bath and then used a dremmel tool to get it to shine.
We tried several options to get a nice silver – first we thought about plating silver, rhodium, or another medal. However, commercial solutions were expensive or toxic. We tried zinc plating by setting up an apparatus at home. It worked somewhat, but the final result wasn’t great. Finally we bought some silver polish from amazon that worked decently.
Ever since I was a kid and no one in our boy scout troop could break our lexan water bottles, I wanted a sword made from the lightweight and powerful material. Although lexan would be perfect for a bokken, it can’t hold an edge. Since traditional katana used high and low carbon steel to give their swords both strength and the ability to be sharpened, we wanted to do the same thing. The blade itself is made from lexan, with a groove cut in the middle where we can fasten the thin steel cutting edge.
For step 1 we used a jig saw to cut the pattern into a 1/2 in lexan sheet. Step two was to use a router bit to angle the blade down to the point where it was a trapezoid. The router made
the blade no longer clear.
The next step was to use an 1/8 in bit to cut the groove for the sword. However we ran into problems – the plastic melted from the heat and then the ‘sawdust’ cooled back in the groove. In order to get around this, we needed to use 3 different passes at different depths, and also to blow air from a high powered compressor into the crack to eject the shavings before they could re-cool.
For the blade itself we used a mid carbon weld steel. First Master Sam cut it out from the sheet. Next he sharpened it on a grinder to build the edge geometry, then refined it on a sharpening stone going 200-300-400-600 grit. He tempered it with an oxy-propolyene torch and then heat treated in an oven at 350 Fahrenheit for 4 hours to strengthen it. Finally he buffed the edge on a bench grinder buffing wheel with a course buff and fine polish compound.
Once the two parts of the blade were both complete we set the steel inside the lexan and fixed it there with four hex bolts.
For the menuki we used Prescious Medal Clay (PMC) to get 100% silver items. Master Katie shaped them with clay tools and then we fired them with a torch. On one side there is a tiger where we embedded blue jewels for eyes and on the other side there is a dragon with a red jewel for an eye.
For the handle of the sword we used maple, routing the edges so that it was smooth and then routing a groove so that the lexan tang would fit snugly inside. We also used a screw to further fix it in place.
Unfortunately, we needed to make the maple handle thicker than we wanted due to the vibrations in the lexan that cracked our first try.
Once we had that, we also added the GPS tracker as well as computer security tools and special school records.
Before we wrapped the handle we welded a collar by folding steel around the edge of the blade and then welded it shut.
For the samegawa (handle wrapping) we used genuine stingray skin that we ordered from Japan. Due to the length of the handle we needed an extra large piece. The skin is pliable when wet yet holds its shape well when dry. It also helps to hold the wood of the handle together.
After we had this then we used blue silk cord to wrap the handle in the traditional manner. Unfortunately, due to the thickness of the wood we needed to use, the silk cord was too short.
We got around this by sewing two pieces together, and then continuing the wrapping. We were having trouble coming up with the piece to fit over the end as a pommel, but we were able to use a pluming end cap from home depot that we were able to paint silver.
This one was pretty much straightforward woodworking – we made it by routing out two sides of maple and then gluing them together. We smoothed the edges with a router and sandpaper, and then painted it white.
We added the kanji for Kaizen in black paint and also added on the names of the KAT Head Masters as well as the dates of their tenure.
We added laquer to get a nice shine.
The last thing to do, of course, was some test cutting. We are happy to report that the sword does cut well.
In the end making the weapon was a very valuable experience because we all learned a lot. We can also see why Lexan swords aren’t in widespread use, but this one will be a valuable symbol to pass down through the ages.
This year marked the 37th anniversary of the Korean Academy of Taekwondo, and what a year it was! Here are some of the memories of the last twelve months, in no particular order. See the Full Review with Images (PDF)
Historic Kukkiwon Event – For the first time ever, 8th and 9th Dan blackbelt tests were held outside of the Kukkiwon in Korea – and it happened here in Denver. Grand Master Ghassan Timani (KAT Head Master 1993-2004), Grandmaster Andre DeOlivera (KAT Instructor 93-96) and Grandmaster Han Cho (Master Bill’s Instructor 1997-2003) all tested and earned their 8th Dans.
Master Katie, Master Zak, Master Ron, Master Ahmed, and Master Jesse also took the Kukkiwon Instructor Training course.
At the same time several students competed, refereed and volunteered at the US Open Hanmadang at DU!
Lone Wolf Classic The tournament was well attended and the competition was fierce! And of course… somehow… it snowed again.
First Silver Tigers/Dragons Black Belts – Our program for 40+ year olds is paying off big time with parents and grandparents reaching the black belt stage of their training.
Grappling Growth – We attended the Fight 2 Win Fall Nationals and several events with The Academy in Monument, CO. Look for more exciting news about this in 2018!
Elementary League Growth – The elementary league exploded, growing so much that we had to move the Fall Championships from the dojang to Crescent View Academy. The league is growing about 35% each year.
Black Belt Tests – For the second year in a row we had 5 masters in the fall black belt test, including Master Bill promoting to 7th Dan. We are so thankful for the decades of dedication these students have shown to their art and dojang.
New Programs – Congrats to Master Sam and Instructor Jenny Kim for starting their own programs, and for Master RJ and Instructor John John for taking over Saddle Rock ATA Martial Arts. This is a great opportunity and a huge step in their careers.
Of course, the year featured many events, memories, triumphs and stepping stones. To see all the details, visit http://www.kattaekwondo.com and click on the detailed school history link or scroll through KAT Facebook.
(Denver, CO) – The world ‘historic’ gets misused a lot in the martial arts world, but the weekend of June 15-18th truly held a once in a lifetime series of events.
For the first time ever, the Kukkiwon held an 8th and 9th degree black belt test outside of Korea, and it was right here in Denver! About 200 people applied for the test but only 100 were approved. Master Ghassan Timani took the test as well as Master Andre Olivera, who was a main instructor of KAT during the mid 90s. Master Han Cho came from Ithaca as well. He was excited to visit KAT and said “I feel like I have found a new TKD Family.” Master Cho was Master Bill’s main teacher while he attended Cornell University and he is the creator of grappling drills A-J and one of the main reasons we train grappling at KAT.
In addition to the High Dan test, there was also a Kukkiwon Masters License Course. The 40 hour course is usually done over 5 days, but our group was the first to do it in just two days. The last session went 21 hours from 8 am Saturday morning to 5 am Sunday morning. It certainly wasn’t easy, but 7 KAT masters attended the course.
We learned a ton, and are excited to share it with our students.
Besides all this, the US Open Hanmadang was also held at DU. KAT Students competed and did very well, while Master Laron, Instructor Sir, and Instructor Donna refereed.
(Aurora, CO) – KAT’s Lone Wolf Classic was once again a great success, with more than 315 competitors from several states and countries. This year the tournament was held at Aurora Quest K8 school and also completed the Elementary School League for the 2016-2017 Season. For more information, see the press reports from Colorado Martial Arts News or from Asia Plus News.