Five Clare Taekwon-do instructors have been elevated to fifth Dan black belt, an honour that is rarely bestowed on one instructor in a locality, let alone five in one county.
Those promoted were Stephen Ryan of Quin Taekwon-do Club, Adrian Byrne of Shannon Taekwon-do Club, Jamie Rigney of Ballyea Taekwon-do Club, Kevin Kinsella of Ennis Taekwon-do Club and Brian Coughlan of Barefield Taekwon-do Club.
The achievement further compounds the increasing talent that Clare is producing among those who do Taekwon-do and has raised the profile of the Taekwon-do schools in Clare, who now boast the largest network of fifth Dan black belts anywhere in the country.
Promotion to fifth Dan black belt is a particularly significant achievement, as it marks nearly 20 years of training for each of those promoted. Typically, promotion from 4th to 5th Dan black belt takes five years before a person is eligible to test and it will be six years before the Clare instructors are eligible to test again, this time for a 6th Dan black belt.
A total of 27 Irish Taekwon-do instructors traveled to Benidorm, Spain recently for an international instructors course, conducted by the International Taekwon-Do Federation technical committee made up of Grandmaster Hector Marano ninth Dan from Argentina, Grandmaster Pablo Trajtenberg ninth Dan from Argentina and Master Willem Bos eighth Dan from Italy.
It is an event that will live long in the memories of the five Clare men who, after three full days of training and an extremely physically demanding grading, were successfully promoted to fifth Dan black belt.
The instructors of the Clare Taekwon-do schools have made significant progress in the past few years to raise the profile of Taekwon-do and they hope that it will eventually be on a par with sports such as football and rugby in terms of professionalism and structure. The schools are all affiliated to the Irish Taekwon-Do Association, which is in turn recognised by the Irish Sports Council.
Meanwhile, a group of six Clare Taekwon-do competitors will participate in the upcoming Taekwon-do World Championships next month in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. Stephen Ryan, Adrian Byrne and Jamie Rigney are among those who will travel to Argentina, while Daniel Dillon, David Lynch and Louise McCagh, all of Shannon Taekwon-do Club, will also be competing.
The clubs are seeking support as the Clare delegation, which has good prospects at this world event, will be funding the trip themselves.