Alliance Master 5th Dan Promotion

On Thursday, April 5th Alliance program director Master Devon Waldron undertook the exam for 5th Dan.  According Alliance a rare honor – and privilege – Grandmaster Eric Greenquist traveled to Bismarck in order to hold a public exam in the Alliance studio. Given that most exams at the blackbelt level and above are generally closed exams, this honor speaks well not just of Master Devon as an exam candidate but also of Alliance as a martial arts school.

To achieve the rank of 5th Dan, the candidate must master new degrees of precision and must have shown that in the time since achieving the rank of 4th Dan master that they have been a worthy custodian of the martial arts.  Master degrees in martial arts are analogous with academic master degrees in that the holder of such a degree is considered to be highly knowledgeable and proficient in the subject area, and has put a lot of time and effort into achieving the degree.  In the case of a Kukkiwon 5th Dan master degree, it represents an additional five or more years of teaching and training beyond the time already put into achieving the 4th Dan master degree.  Master Devon Waldron has been training in martial arts for over twenty-seven years, and achieved his 4th Dan master degree in 2012.

The exam was conducted at the Alliance Taekwondo studio in Bismarck, ND on April 5th, at 6:30 PM.  The exam was administered by 8th degree Grandmaster Eric Greenquist, president of the United States Chang Moo Kwan Taekwondo Union, as chief examiner.  6th degree Master Linda Catalano and 6th degree Master Ken Sorenson were present as sitting examiners.  5th degree Master Mike Scharnowske directed the exam, with 4th degree Master Charles Smith assisting.  The exam included multiple patterns, hand to hand fighting techniques, board and brick breaking, candle techniques, sword techniques and academic material.

Alliance would like to extend a very special thank you to Grandmaster Eric Greenquist for holding the open exam in the Alliance gym, and thank the guest masters and blackbelts who made the trip to help and to witness.  Another special thanks goes out to the students and parents who put in extra time helping the Masters and instructors clean and prepare the studio for Grandmaster Eric’s visit.

Master Devon Waldron completed his exam successfully and has been promoted to Kukkiwon 5th Dan.  Please join us in congratulating Master Devon Waldron!  필승

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Three New Alliance Jr Blackbelts

Please join us in congratulating Alex Hamilton, Justin LaFavor and Emily Frieze for achieving the rank of 1st Poom.

All three students have been training for over three years.  Mr Alex has been training at Alliance since 2014, Mr Justin started in 2013 and Ms Emily first started training in 2012; after years of training, they have all undertaken the exam for their jr blackbelt.  Mr Alex is looking forward to middle school next year, Mr Justin will be heading into his freshman year and Ms Emily is just finishing her freshman year.

Mr Alex completed his exam for first degree jr blackbelt on January 13th, 2018.  Mr Justin completed his incomplete breaking technique shortly thereafter, completing his exam on the evening of January 25th, 2018.  Ms Emily completed her final outstanding technique to earn her promotion on the evening of February 22nd.

Blackbelt testing is demanding, requiring the candidates to be accomplished in empty-hand technique and requiring the candidates to be able to perform under pressure.  The exam took about two hours, wherein the candidates displayed nine patterns and one hundred empty hand techniques, displayed additional self defense techniques and action sequences, and performed nearly twenty breaking and candle techniques.

Testing for blackbelt ranks is a privilege and an honor; only 2% of people who start training in martial arts make it to blackbelt.  It requires years of practice and dedication, and comes only after a student has accepted and done well with added responsibility, and has the recommendation of their instructors and Masters.

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Roughrider Invitational 2017

Alliance Taekwondo attended the 2017 Roughrider Invitational Championship on October 21st.  Alliance fielded a team twenty-four competitors strong, including blackbelts Kyle Sanford, Austin Hunt, Tanner Olson and Madison and Mason Rud; the youth team was lead by junior blackbelts Braden Fritel, Eddie Lin and Logan King; underbelt competitors included Alex Hamilton, Justin and Tanner LaFavor, Tristian Glass, Andrew Burger, Kaitlyn Retzer, Amber and Casey McGrath, Tatum and Reese Spadgenske, Kenyon Meissel, Clark Schumacher, Dyllan Heidt, Hudson Tooke, Gavin Kutzer and Kristofer Huck.  The Alliance team claimed thirty-seven trophies in total, including ten first place wins, fourteen second place awards and thirteen third place finishes.

The 2017 Roughrider Crew with trophies.

In a rough day for Alliance blackbelt forms competitors, Madison Rud was the only adult to claim a top-three spot, bringing home a second place trophy in her division.  In the jr blackbelt division, Braden Fritel claimed third with a performance of Kumgang.

In underbelt forms, advanced competitors took home trophies in three separate divisions.  Alex Hamilton took first in his division with teammate Tristian Glass taking second.  In two separate divisions, Andrew Burger and Tatum Spadgenske both took third.  At the intermediate level, Mr Kenyon Meissel took first, Mr Clark Schumacher took second and newcomer Ms Dyllan Heidt also claimed a second place spot, all in separate divisions.  In beginner forms, Mr Kristofer Huck won first place in his first tournament appearance; in a separate division newcomer Casey McGrath took second and Mr Gavin Kutzer took third.

In underbelt weapons, Mr Eddie Lin’s sturdy performance of the Hapkido bo-staff set earned him third place in his division.

In breaking, junior underbelts Mr Alex Hamilton and Ms Tatum Spadgenske took home awards in two advanced divisions; Hamilton placed second, while in a separate division Spadgenske took third.  In separate intermediate divisions, Mr Kenyon Meissel and Ms Reese Spadgenske took home third place finishes.  In the beginner divisions, newcomers Mr Kristopher Huck and Mr Casey McGrath placed third in their respective divisions.

In the always competitive jr blackbelt divisions, Mr Braden Fritel showcased some explosive power and won second, while Mr Eddie Lin slammed his way to second in a separate division.  In the adult blackbelt divisions, blackbelts Mr Austin Hunt and Mr Mason Rud showed solid striking and youthful energy to claim first place and third place respectively.

In the sparring divisions, the Alliance underbelts faced some tenacious competition.  In the teen girls division, Ms Amber McGrath showed verve and fire and claimed first.  In an older advanced division, teammates Mr Andrew Burger and Mr Justin LaFavor battled through opposite legs of the same bracket to fight each other for first place.  In a close match that went into overtime, Burger ended up earning the final point to claim first, with teammate LaFavor taking a respectable second.  In a younger advanced division, Tristian Glass fought fast and smart and claimed first, with teammate Alex Hamilton taking third in the same division after three long, rough matches.  In the intermediate divisions, Ms Reese Spadgenske fought an exhausting series of four matches and won them all to claim first.  Mr Kenyon Meissel showed some of his best and most adaptable fighting yet and Mr Clark Schumacher battled hard all the way into double overtime in his last match; both took home second place trophies.  Ms Dyllan Heidt also battled her way to second place in her first competitive fighting appearance.  At the beginner level, Mr Kristofer Huck earned first place in his first sparring division, showing that the newest members of Alliance are carrying on our competitive reputation.

The junior blackbelt division was rough and aggressive as always; Alliance’s junior team co-captains battled hard.  Mr Braden Fritel gunned through his opponents with strategy and speed to secure first place, and Mr Eddie Lin’s performance earned him third place.

Blackbelt fighting was two rounds of two-minute continuous fighting and scoring per match.  In their first appearance as blackbelt fighters, twins Madison and Mason Rud did Alliance proud.  In the women’s divisions, Ms Madison Rud battled seasoned fighters and earned her way to the first place match, where she lost to Master Naomi Even-Aberle of Rapid City in a gritty finish and claimed the worthy second place spot.  In the over eighteen men’s divisions, Mr Mason Rud waded his way through his opponents to have a chance at first place; though close, Rud finished with a very respectable second place.  In the fighting highlight of the day, Mr Austin Hunt burned through his opponents to claim first place in an undeniably dominant performance.

Alliance would like to thank the Roughrider Academy and Grandmaster Ted Fitzsimmons for hosting the tournament and providing these opportunities. We would also like to congratulate the entire team on all the hard work, and thank the parents, instructors and coaches who have supported them. As always, our gratitude goes out to Grandmaster Eric Greenquist for his many years of dedication and instruction, and Great Grandmaster Moo Young Yun for his tireless efforts in the promotion of Korean martial arts.

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Alliance Taekwondo Splits Club

One year after putting together a “Splits Club” for students who had achieved a “split,” Alliance wanted to take some time and look at those students who have become members of the club.  Membership requires a student to have achieved at least one of the following full (meaning hips resting on the ground!) splits: a full middle split, a full front split or a full side split.  The Alliance Splits Club currently boasts nine members; Please join us in congratulating those students who have put in the work to reach their full splits!

The Alliance Splits Club

For more pictures, check out our Splits Club Gallery or our Facebook page!

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Tough Mudder 2017

This September, Master Devon Waldron headed out to Seattle to do his third Tough Mudder event, inviting new blackbelt Austin Hunt to come out with him to participate.  The Tough Mudder is a 10+ mile obstacle course race, and this year’s track out in Black Diamond, WA was miles of running through hilly forest and over large quarry rocks, with multiple obstacles including all of the Mudder Legion events.  The team completed the event in approximately 2.5 hours, which is fast considering that most participants take between 3-5 hours to finish the event, and a percentage of participants don’t finish at all.

Master Devon Waldron with blackbelt Austin Hunt after running the Tough Mudder in Black Diamond, WA.

The Tough Mudder was the “main event,” but Master Devon – who completed two higher education degrees in the area – showed his blackbelt around Seattle and introduced him to lots of new experiences, especially Seattle cuisine!  Hopefully this trip sets a precedent for other events like this so that Alliance can keep creating new possibilities for students.

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Blackbelt Camp 2017

The 2017 blackbelt camp crew after a muddy weekend of training.

This year, the Alliance blackbelt camp team was missing three of our ranking veterans, but also boasted four new, young blackbelts.  Saturday saw some excellent practice with handwork, footwork, kicking and takedowns.  Saturday night saw a late arrival in camp and setting up in the dark, while Sunday morning saw a wash of rainstorms.  Sunday training included hapkido techniques for defense and counter-attacks, and put everybody down in the mud.  All told it was another good weekend of outdoor training and fellowship.

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Alliance Summer Camp

The Alliance summer camp was a success!  With a crew of seventeen, Alliance sported three adult blackbelt “counselors” and fourteen “campers,” a good turn out for our first ever Alliance summer camp.  The camp attendees spent two nights and two days on the shores of Brush Lake, where they learned about camping, trained martial arts, and cultivated fellowship.

The Alliance summer camp crew just before striking camp.

Master Devon Waldron and Ms Tammy Fairbanks are both veteran campers.  Master Waldron is also an Eagle Scout and Ms Fairbanks works for Federal Fish and Wildlife; both were happy to teach the crew some basic camp skills, getting everyone to feel comfortable enjoying the outdoors.

Training itself consisted of working a few hand-picked fighting techniques on pads, getting some sparring experience using a different rule set, and training the nunchaku weapon for coordination, timing and hand speed.

The crew also got the chance to do some team building games like “The Island” and “Human Knot,” and enjoyed free time swimming in the lake and campfire time trying to solve critical thinking puzzles.

Alliance summer camp attendees enjoying a summer afternoon on the dock.

With a successful event and good impression left with our Brush Lake hosts, Alliance may work to reprise the camp next year, to build more skills, camaraderie and memories.

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Greenquist Invitational 2017

Alliance Taekwondo fielded a large team for the 2017 Greenquist Championship Invitational.  Master Devon Waldron and ten Alliance blackbelt competitors – Tammy Fairbanks, Dale Schniebel, Kyle Sanford, Caleb Olson, Austin Hunt, Braden Fritel, Shauna Fairbanks, Eddie Lin, Cameron Lemere and Logan King – were joined by fifteen underbelt competitors.  Madison and Mason Rud, Tristian Glass, Justin and Tanner Lafavor,  Amber Mcgrath, Alex Hamilton, Kaitlyn Retzer, Jaylynn Ernst, Tatum and Reese Spadgenske, Addy and Keith Smette, Kenyon Meissel and Clark Schumacher all represented Alliance well.

Alliance took home a grand total of sixty-three awards, including sixteen first place finishes, twelve second place finishes, twenty-two third place finishes, seven fourth place honorable mention finishes and six additional non-standard contest wins.  Alliance also claimed the Jay Halvorson Memorial Breaking championship and the Masters’ Breaking championship.

The Masters’ forms division was up first, with Master Devon Waldron taking third.  In the blackbelt forms divisions, Ms Tammy Fairbanks took first with a high-precision display of Taebek while Mr Austin Hunt took second in his first competition as an adult blackbelt with a much-practiced Koryo.  In three separate junior blackbelt divisions, Mr Braden Fritel took third, Mr Eddie Lin took first, Mr Cameron Lemere took second, Ms Shauna Fairbanks took third and Mr Logan King won a fourth place honorable mention.

In underbelt forms, thirteen juniors and four adults competed.  In the advanced divisions, three adults and five juniors competed.  Mr Mason Rud and Ms Madison Rud took first and second in their division, with teammate Ms Amber Mcgrath taking third for a clean sweep.  In three separate divisions, Mr Alex Hamilton took first, Mr Justin Lafavor took second and Ms Kaitlyn Retzer took third.

In the intermediate divisions, an adult and four juniors competed.  Mr Kenyon Meissel took first place in his division.  In two separate younger divisions, Mr Keith Smette took first and Ms Addy Smette took second.  Ms Tatum Spadgenske took third in her forms division as well.

In the beginner divisions, Alliance was represented by two junior competitors.  Mr Clark Schumacher took first in his division, while Ms Reese Spagenske took third in a separate, younger forms division.

In the weapons divisions, the Alliance junior blackbelts competed, showcasing the standard Hapkido Bo Staff set; Mr Eddie Lin took second in the crowded weapons division, with teammate Mr Logan King earning a fourth place honorable mention as well.  In a massive, all ages underbelt weapons division, Mr Alex Hamilton took first with Ms Madison Rud coming in just behind him in second.

All juniors breaking and underbelt breaking was up next. In two separate junior blackbelt divisions Mr Cameron Lemere took first, Mr Eddie Lin took second, Mr Braden Fritel took third and Mr Logan King took fourth.  In the advanced divisions Ms Madison Rud took second in the adult division while brother Mason Rud came in third just behind her.  In a separate adult division, Ms Amber Mcgrath also took second.  Mr Justin Lafavor took second in his division, as did Ms Kaitlyn Retzer in her division.  In a separate division, Mr Alex Hamilton took third.  At the intermediate level, Ms Jaylynn Ernst took first an adult division, while juniors Ms Tatum Spadgenske, Addy and Keith Smette took first, second and third respectively in three separate divisions.   At the beginner level, Mr Clark Schumacher took third in his division.

In a fun set of non-standard events unique to the Greenquist Invitational, competitors participated in a belt-tying competitions, jump-rope competitions and speed kicking competitions.  Each division was large and only one award was presented to the top competitor in each category.  In belt tying, Ms Reese Spadgenske won the award for her age group.  In jump rope, Mr Eddie Lin, Mr Cameron Lemere and Mr Tristian Glass won the award in their respective divisions.  In the speed kicking competition, Ms Shauna Fairbanks won the award in the junior blackbelt division, while Ms Madison Rud claimed the award for her advanced division.

Mr Dale Schneibel cleaves six boards at once on his way to claiming his fourth Jay Halvorson Memorial Award.

In a separate breaking event, the Jay Halvorson Memorial Trophy was up for grabs to the person breaking the most stacked boards with a single knifehand strike. After winning last year for the third time, Mr Dale Schneibel of Alliance slammed through six boards without issue. After the six board round, Grandmaster Eric Greenquist gave him the opportunity to attempt an eight board strike; he didn’t break all eight, but now he has a new goal of breaking eight boards.  This is the fourth year that Mr Dale has claimed the prestigious award.

In the underbelt sparring divisions, the adults were broken into men and women.  All three Alliance ladies placed in their division, with Ms Madison Rud taking first, Ms Jaylynn Ernst taking second and Ms Amber Mcgrath taking third.  Mr Mason cleaned up his opposition to take first in the men’s division.  Mr Justin Lafavor fought three matches and went undefeated to claim first place in his advanced division.  In a tough advanced division, Mr Tristian Glass and Mr Tanner Lafavor fought fast and hard to take second and third respectively.  In two separate advanced divisions, Mr Alex Hamilton claimed third place after a tough match with a very aggressive fighter and Ms Kaitlyn Retzer claimed third despite taking a bad fall in her first match.

Mr Kenyon Meissel scores.

In the younger, less experienced divisions, Mr Clark Schumacher and Mr Kenyon Meissel were placed into the same group; in a tougher division than their last tournament appearances, they showed the results of their training and hard work, with Mr Clark Schumacher taking his matches to claim first, and Mr Kenyon Meissel taking third in a solid showing.  Ms Reese Spagenske earned a third place finish in a young division, while two other Alliance junior ladies – Ms Tatum Spagenske and Ms Addy Smette – took fourth in their brackets.

In the jr blackbelt divisions, three Alliance competitors tested their mettle.  Mr Eddie Lin carved through his opponents to take first place in his division, with teammate Mr Cameron Lemere taking third behind him.  Mr Braden Fritel was in a tough division with older students, and ended up coming away with third.  In the under eighteen blackbelt fighting divisions, Mr Austin Hunt had some good action and also claimed the third place spot.

Adult blackbelt breaking was the second to last event of the day, and consisted of two rings of black belts setting up breaking sequences of up to ten boards each.  Mr Caleb Olson – now confined to a wheelchair after a serious accident two years ago – has been competing in breaking despite his limitations.  For the first time since his accident, he showed the true meaning of perseverance and focus, acing his breaking setup and taking first place in the adult men’s blackbelt breaking division.

A separate breaking event for Masters, in which there are no limits (within reason) to the number of boards, bricks or stations, is also unique to the Greenquist Invitational.  This year Master Devon Waldron competed, breaking six boards and eleven bricks to claim the Masters’ Breaking Champion award, reprising his win from last year.

Due to assorted scheduling conflicts, Alliance didn’t field any fighters for the over eighteen blackbelt fighting divisions this year.  The men’s championship match was a replay of last year’s title match, in which Mr Jesse Kipp challenged Master Charles Smith for the title belt; Mr Jesse Kipp was denied, allowing Master Charles Smith to retain the belt, winning the title match for the fourth year in a row.

Alliance would like to thank the Greenquist Academy for hosting the tournament and providing a wonderful environment for competition and both team and personal growth. We would also like to congratulate the entire team on all the hard work, and thank the parents, instructors and coaches who have supported them. As always, our gratitude goes out to Grandmaster Eric Greenquist for his many years of dedication and instruction, and Great Grandmaster Moo Young Yun for his tireless efforts in the promotion of Korean martial arts.

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New Alliance Jr Blackbelt

Please join us in congratulating Logan King for achieving the rank of 1st Poom.

Originally from Nebraska, Mr Logan King – “Loki” – moved to the Dakotas in 2013 and has been training since that fall; since then, Mr Logan has grown as a martial artist and put in many hours of hard work, dedication and competition.

Mr Logan King, the newest Alliance jr blackbelt.

After several months of training as a red belt, Mr Logan tested for his junior blackbelt on the 4th of March, 2017 at 10:30 AM.  The difficult exam lasted an hour and a half; Mr Logan demonstrated positivity, perseverance, a wealth of knowledge and a high degree of technical proficiency, and performed upwards of fifteen breaking and candle techniques.

Testing for a blackbelt rank is a privilege and an honor; only 2% of people who start training in martial arts make it to blackbelt.  It requires years of practice and dedication, and comes only after a student has accepted and done well with added responsibility, and has the recommendation of their instructors and Masters.

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Alliance Taekwondo Master Earns Hapkido Master Degree

On Saturday, February 25th, Alliance general director Master Devon Waldron passed the exam for 4th degree Master in Hapkido.  An honor and a privilege, the rank of Master allows the instructor to run exams and certify students through blackbelt rank, and earns the Master’s school certification as an official Cchung-Ryoung Hapkido training hall.

Master Devon Waldron already holds a 4th degree Master rank in Taekwondo, as well as being an authorized and ranked instructor in the Bak Shaolin Eagle Claw system.  Now he adds 4th degree in Hapkido – a Korean martial art descended from techniques taught to dynastic royalty, which he has been studying for 18 years – to his credentials.  Just as with Taekwondo, the rank of 4th Dan Master is one of the most significant, because it represents years of study and dedication, and when achieved confers a host of responsibilities and privileges upon the recipient.  A Master degree in martial arts is analogous with an academic Master degree in that the holder of such a degree is considered to be highly knowledgeable and proficient in the subject area, and has put a lot of time and effort into achieving the degree.

Please join us in congratulating Alliance Taekwondo’s Master Devon Waldron on achieving his Hapkido Master degree 4th Dan!  필승

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