Mind, body and Seoul: Newfoundland man earns elite taekwondo title

It took eight years of hard work and required travelling 10,000 kilometres for a final exam, but a Bay Roberts man has achieved his grand master eighth-degree black belt in taekwondo.

“I was very excited … I attribute this to my family, my friends, my students and my community,” said Wes Earle, who has run Earle‘s Tae Kwon Do in Bay Roberts for the last 25 years.

“It takes a long time to achieve this level, and I feel that I owe it to Newfoundland and Labrador and I‘m very proud of what I have accomplished.”

He said he is the first person in the province to achieve the title, and one of about 25 in Canada. It‘s a long-term commitment, since it takes eight years to go from seventh-degree to eighth-degree black belt and earns him the title grand master.

Physical test in Korea, resumé required

Earle found out earlier this month he had passed the final test in Seoul, which included a four-hour seminar on the movements of taekwondo and then a separate one-hour exam demonstrating his skill level in the different techniques.

“I didn‘t want to come out and say I had passed because I needed to have it officially from them first but I felt pretty confident about what I did,” Earle told CBC Radio‘s On the Go.

Wes Earle says he was thrilled when notice came he passed an exam that required him to travel to Korea for completion. (Earles Tae Kwon Do/Facebook)

But it isn‘t just physical prowess that gets someone the high honour. 

“We had to do up a resumé, we had to do a 10-page thesis on taekwondo, and all that had to be approved a month before I even went to South Korea,” Earle explained. 

That included listing his involvement with the spor, and Earle had plenty to include, since he first got involved back in 1979 at the age of 12. 

Earle has been inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Taekwondo Association‘s hall of fame, has competed nationally, taught the sport to children of all ages and led courses, including in self-defence and anti-bullying.

“There is a lot that goes into achieving this level,” Earle said. 

There‘s a big mental component, too.

“You cannot train your body until you train your mind. They go together hand in hand. If you want to get better at something you have to have the discipline to learn,” he said.

A new goal — nine years away

Earle recently celebrated the new title with a party at his taekwondo studio in Bay Roberts, which was attended by his parents, friends and his students.

“I had my dad put my belt around my waist … [and thought], ‘Wow, this is truly happening. It‘s official,‘” he said.

Taekwondo powerhouse0:42

But Earle isn‘t just relishing his new accomplishment — he is setting his sights on the grand master ninth-degree black belt.

He has to wait nine years until he can try for that title, but isn‘t letting that faze him.

“God willing, yes [I‘ll get it] … I‘ll be 60,” Earle said.

“To reach this level, just to maintain good health is enough for me.”

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