Two Red Deer athletes and their trainer, who is also the national team coach, are off to Vladivostok, Russia in July to represent Canada at the World Poomsae Championships.
TreAuna Epp, 16, is on the 1st team female and Tania Makarenko, 36, is 2nd senior female. Both train at Master Seoungmin Rim’s Taekwondo in Red Deer.
Taekwondo, the national sport of South Korea, is an ancient Korean martial art that is loosely translated as the art of foot and fist or the art of kicking and punching. It combines self-defence combat techniques with exercise, meditation and philosophy.
Makarenko, a psychologist, is married with three young children.
“After I had my last baby I was looking for something active that was also something mental. I was attracted to martial arts and Taekwondo looked very intriguing,” she said. “I like it because there’s a lot of balance. It incorporates a physical component. I like to be active. It’s also healthy, offers lots of physical exercise, but there’s also spiritual and mental peace.
“Taekwondo balances everything out really nicely. I really like the school and how Master Rim works really hard to include community work and families. My daughter trains here too. He appreciates the connection between training in Taekwondo, school and home.”
Makarenko trains at home or at the school for hours every day now that she has been selected for the national team.
“A big commitment to Taekwondo is required to get this far in three years. Being passionate about it helps and the hours are expected at this level. We (as a family) really value being healthy and active and are excited about it. You have to set priorities (to balance training and family life),” she said. “I’m not really sure what to expect exactly, but I’m excited, although not sure what to expect at the venue. I’ve never been to Russia, so that’s exciting, but I really like to travel and am looking forward to it.”
Epp is also training hard every day.
“I don’t really know what to expect in Russia. I think it will be a great experience, but I’m not sure yet. But I recognize the competition levels will be high.”
Epp is part of a three person synchronized team; the other two are from B.C. and Ontario and the three will train together in Red Deer starting in July.
“I wanted to be in martial arts and my brother tried out and I watched him. I really enjoyed watching him and got really excited about it and joined myself,” said Epp. “It is hard work and I like the challenge. It builds a lot of confidence and it’s all new experience.”
Master Rim said Epp was very shy, especially in front of other people when she started at his school.
“She’s gained a lot of confidence. For your information, I was very shy, if anything even more shy than TreAuna, but Taekwondo has been definitely helpful to me to help express myself in public.”
Master Rim, 35, trained Taekwondo athletes from across Canada during a four-day national training camp in April, from which Canada’s team was selected. He has nothing but praise for his two team members from Red Deer.
“They are relatively new to the national team, and had to compete against more experienced people from B.C. and Ontario. But they worked hard. It’s unusual that people with only three years of training have come so far. They are dedicated and committed,” he said. “Poomsae is judged by accuracy of form and movement, and presentation by range of energy and motion, balance and power.”
Rim earned his first black belt at the age of six. Born in Seoul, South Korea, he holds a 6th Dan black belt in Taekwondo, a 5th Dan black belt in Hapkido (a martial art similar to Taekwondo that includes weapon use) and a lst Dan black belt in Judo. His experience includes international refereeing, coaching national teams in China and Ukraine and receiving the best coach award with the Canadian national team at the 2010 Pan Am championship in Monterrey, Mexico. He moved to Red Deer with his family five years ago.
The World Poomsae Championships will be held in Russia July 29 – 31.