Red Deer taekwondo Master Seoungmin Rim is heading to Monterrey, Mexico for the Pan American Taekwondo Championships.
The Seoul native, who has lived in Red Deer for three years and runs a taekwondo academy in the City, was appointed a Canadian National Team coach.
Twenty Canadian athletes, including Beijing Olympic Silver medallist Karine Sergerie, will compete for medals in sparring competitions and Poomsae, which focuses on form.
“The U.S. and Mexico have strong teams,” says Rim who expects the Canadian team to place at least third overall.
It’s not the first time Rim has coached taekwondo at the international level. He was head coach for both the Ukrainian and Chinese national teams and instructed elite soldiers in the Ukraine for an anti-terrorist unit of the country’s Special Forces.
Although taekwondo was originally a battle technique, and is now most popularly known as a competitive sport, Rim sees it as a discipline to practice for a healthy life. He grew up studying it in South Korea where the martial art originates.
“I’ve loved it since I was a kid,” he says.
When he was six years old, Rim remembers being in poor health and not being very strong. Everything changed when he started training. For years Rim would practice up to seven hours every day, doing 800 sit-ups without fail.
Rim’s approach to teaching taekwondo goes beyond kicking and punching, and is very purpose driven.
“I focus on what the student needs. For Olympians, the goal is winning a medal. For children it is age and goal specific.”
His academy teaches about 400 students from beginner to advanced levels.
Rim sees himself as an ambassador of sorts, and believes that taekwondo can effectively teach kids to be peacemakers who respect diversity.
“Taekwondo has been a great blessing for the Korean people,” he says.
Having lived or taught all over the world, Rim considers himself a “taekwondo citizen with a Korean heart.”
His recent appointment by Taekwondo Canada as the Poomsae Committee Chair will increase the profile of the sport in Red Deer. The youngest chair in the national governing body’s history, Rim is responsible to develop seminars, instructors, and athletes nationally.
Humble about the new position, Rim says he is also honoured to have a role as a coach of the Canadian contingent to Mexico.
“I’m thankful to be at this event. There are so many other great masters in Canada who applied” for a role on the team.
Rim believes his considerable experience at the international level will be an asset to the athletes, including the four Albertans he will oversee at the competition.
The Pan American Taekwondo Championship will take place Dec. 8 to 11.