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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Alliance Ski Trip 2017

This year, Alliance decided to try something new by taking a team trip down to the Black Hills of South Dakota for some snow sports action.  Nine members of Alliance opted to participate, so once all the arrangements were made the crew traveled down to the Hills and started exploring.

The Alliance Snow Trip crew outside the Terry Peak lodge with Master Naomi Even-Aberle of Full Circle Martial Arts in Rapid City

The crew tore up Terry Peak for two days, shredding during the day and enjoying games in the evening.  The crew also got to spend some time enjoying Black Hills amenities and Full Circle hospitality thanks to the generosity and facilitation of Master Naomi Even-Aberle of Full Circle Martial Arts in Rapid City.

Some of the crew braved the cold and snow to do a few runs topless in the balmy February afternoon air.

On the slopes, the levels of experience varied across a great range.  A couple older members of the crew were shred veterans who have been all over North America in search of that white gold; a handful of others were brand new to the idea, learning for the first time how to ride the white, frozen waves that covered the rocky sides of Terry Peak.  Fellowship and team building was a core goal of this trip and all of our participants experienced these things in spades.  Of particular note, one Alliance student was introduced to his future instructor; after graduating, high school senior Mason Rud will be heading to Rapid City for college where he will continue his martial arts studies under Master Naomi at Full Circle.

The Alliance 2017 Snow Trip was a success and a memorable event for all those who participated.  The crew had lots of fun and hopes to be able to reprise such a trip in future years.

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Roughrider Invitational 2016

Alliance Taekwondo attended the 2016 Rougherider Invitational Championship on October 24th.  Alliance fielded a team twenty-two competitors strong, including blackbelts Tammy Fairbanks, Dale Schneibel and Kyle Sanford and junior blackbelts Tanner Olson, Shauna Fairbanks, Eddie Lin and Cameron Lemere; underbelt competitors included Logan King, Tristian and Tyler Glass, Justin LaFavor, Madison and Mason Rud, Andrew Burger, Kaitlyn Retzer, Alex Hamilton, Jaylynn Ernst, Keith and Addy Smette, Kenyon Meissel, Clark Schumacher and Chloe Poffenberger.

The 2016 Roughrider crew with awards

Ms Tammy Fairbanks took third in her 3rd dan division with a sharp Taebek, while Mr Kyle Sanford showed power and solidity to take first with Kumgang in his 2nd dan division.  The jr blackbelt division had some stiff competition, but the Alliance youth team stepped it up and both Shauna Fairbanks and Eddie Lin placed in separate divisions with Koryo, both taking second place.

In underbelt forms, twelve juniors and three adults competed.  In the adult divisions, Madison and Mason Rud competed in the advanced divisions, and Jaylynn Ernst competed at the intermediate level; Ms Madison Rud took home the first place trophy in her division.  In the junior divisions, advanced competitor and jr blackbelt candidate Logan King took first, while teammates Tristian Glass and Alex Hamilton took third and first respectively.  At the beginner level, Mr Kenyon Meissel took third and in a separate division Mr Clark Schumacher took first.

In underbelt weapons, Mr Logan King showcased his Hapkido bo-staff set and took first place in his division.

In breaking, junior underbelts Mr Logan King and Mr Justin LaFavor took home awards in two advanced divisions; King placed first, while in a separate division LaFavor took third.  In an advanced underbelt division, Madison Rud took second.

In the always competitive jr blackbelt divisions, Mr Tanner Olson delivered solid strikes to win second, while in a younger division Mr Eddie Lin broke his way to third.  In the adult blackbelt divisions, Mr Dale Schneibel  showcased his trademark power and ferocity to own a second place finish.

In the sparring divisions, the Alliance underbelts faced some tenacious competition.  In an older advanced division, teammates Mr Logan King and Mr Andrew Burger 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 King taking a respectable second.  In a younger advanced division, Tristian Glass fought fast and smart, and claimed second.  In the adult divisions, Ms Madison Rud fought her way to third place in an advanced women’s division, while Mr Mason Rud claimed first in an adult men’s division.

The junior blackbelt divisions were full of stiff competition, as usual.  In a big division in which three Alliance jr blackbelts competed, Mr Eddie Lin defeated his older training brother Mr Tanner Olson for a chance at the first place match; Lin ended up with second, while Olson won his match to claim third.

Blackbelt fighting was two rounds of two-minute continuous fighting and scoring per match.  In the fighting highlight of the day, Mr Kyle Sanford burned through two opponents before meeting up with training brother Mr Jesse Kipp from the Greenquist Headquarters gym.  After two more exhausting rounds in which Sanford displayed his persistence and fortitude, he was declared winner and awarded first place.

In the underbelt under 15 Grand Championship, Mr Logan King tied up with an advanced Roughrider student; King nearly won the trophy, but was edged out after a forms run-off with a split decision; even so, a notable cap to a successful day for King.

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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Detroit Lakes Invitational 2016

A small crew of eight competitors from Alliance Taekwondo made the trip out to Detroit Lakes the first weekend of June to compete in the Detroit Lakes Invitational Tournament. Senior blackbelt Kyle Sanford headed up the team, with jr blackbelts Austin Hunt and Braden Fritel joined by new jr blackbelts Eddie Lin and Cameron Lemere in their first appearances at the blackbelt level.  At the underbelt level, Madison Rud, Mason Rud and Alex Hamilton tested their mettle.  Together they claimed nineteen top three placements and an honorable mention.

The 2016 Detroit Lakes crew

Three of the four Alliance junior blackbelt competitors competed in forms.  Mr Braden Fritel earned a second place with Koryo.  In a separate division, Mr Eddie Lin took second in his division despite having learned Koryo only a week before.  In a third, younger division, Mr Cameron Lemere took first place.

In underbelt forms, Ms Madison Rud took first in an advanced adult division.  Mr Mason Rud took third in an intermediate adult division.  In a youth intermediate division, Mr Alex Hamilton also competed with a form he’d only just learned and received a fourth place honorable mention.

In a handful of large breaking divisions, the Alliance competitors had some fun.  In the underbelt divisions, Ms Madison Rud competed in an adult advanced division and registered a first place performance.  Mr Alex Hamilton competed in a youth intermediate division and earned third place.  Mr Cameron Lemere took third in another division, with Mr Eddie Lin taking first.  In the adult blackbelt breaking division, Mr Kyle Sanford’s hit or miss performance earned him a third place finish.

In the weapons divisions, Mr Kyle Sanford and Mr Braden Fritel both put forth earnest efforts.  In the adult blackbelt division, Sanford’s performance of Chi Mei Quan was strong but a big error towards the end of the set cost him.  In the jr blackbelt division, Fritel performed the first half of Shepherd Staff and, despite some hesitation, took third in a large division.

In a young intermediate division, Mr Alex Hamilton fought hard against obdurate competitors; in the match for first place he was edged out in over time and came away with second place.  In the adult underbelt divisions Mason Rud battled his way through an intermediate division of six to claim first place.  In an advanced women’s division, Madison Rud had another decisive showing and, despite a dearth of calls for very clear points, still managed to come out on top and secure a first place finish.

In the jr blackbelt divisions, which were two rounds of continuous fighting per match, Mr Austin Hunt, Mr Braden Fritel, Mr Eddie Lin and Mr Cameron Lemere competed in three separate divisions.  Lin and Lemere were grouped into a tough bracket and fought intense, hot rounds.  Lin made it to the first place match, where he fought a Detroit Lakes veteran national competitor; after a single point decision in overtime, Lin was awarded second place.  Fritel also fought well in one of the most competitive jr blackbelt divisions of the year, clearing all comers until the match for first.  Facing off against Wyatt Hermanson yet again, they traded blows and points; after the dust had settled, Wyatt had taken first bringing the all time score between the two to an even three wins for each.  Hunt showcased some of his best fighting to date; relaxed but fast and accurate, he achieved his first win against longtime rival Rylee Hermanson of Roughrider to take first place.  In the adult blackbelt divisions, Mr Kyle Sanford – after a close bout that went into overtime – was relegated to the third place match, which he won.

Alliance would like to thank Master Lucas Holzhueter for hosting the tournament and providing a solid environment for competition where Alliance students experienced 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 martial arts.

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Two New Alliance Junior Blackbelts

Please join us in congratulating Eddie Lin and Cameron Lemere for achieving the rank of 1st Poom.

Both Mr Eddie and Mr Cameron have been training at Alliance since 2012; after over three years of training each, they have undertaken the exam for their jr blackbelt.  Mr Eddie is looking forward to middle school next year, while Mr Cameron is looking forward to his last year of elementary.

Mr Eddie completed his exam for first degree jr blackbelt on May 22nd, 2016; Mr Cameron completed his only incomplete breaking technique shortly thereafter, completing his exam on the evening of June 2nd, 2016.  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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