Memories That Last a Lifetime

Have you ever had a point in your life where things just no longer made sense? You can’t figure out which direction you are going. You are not even sure that you WANT to reach your destination, much less if you CAN.

We have all been there, or at least most of us. When we are in those times of uncertainty, where do you turn? You likely will turn to those you trust the most. Family and friends. I have found that a great place to find life long friends is within the martial arts community. There is something about training together, sweating together, yes, even kicking each other, that builds a very special, deep bond.

As I was thinking about this blog post, I was reminded of this picture. Recently, the gentleman on the left, Master Nathan Moats, came by the school as part of our ongoing 30th anniversary celebration to share some memories. We talked about this picture. The brothers moats in this picture were my partners, my family. We trained together, traveled together, did demonstration tours together. We have walked through some crazy times together. Ultimately, Master Nathan would actually be a groomsman for my wedding.

When I first became a senior instructor, it was at a different program. The two here were my first black belts. Both of them were at my wedding. Sadly, one is no longer with us, but the other? Though we haven’t trained together in quite some time, we have kept in constant contact. I have had the pleasure of watching two kids grow into wonderful young adults, and am privileged to still play a part.

The last picture for this post is one of me as an early black belt with Senior Grandmaster Edward B. Sell, and Grandmaster Brenda J. Sell. Two living legends, and pioneers of Taekwondo. While he was alive, “Senior” was a Taekwondo father to me. He took personal interest in my life, and my family. Grandmaster Brenda Sell has always done the same. Today, she mentors me beyond even Taekwondo!

So, what purpose does this trip down memory lane serve? Its a reminder that, at the end of the day, community matters. Surrounding yourself with people you love, and who love you matters. Its a reminder that YOU MATTER. Sometimes we can lose sight of that, in the business of this life. Tight communities, like those found in the martial arts, can often help you refocus and recenter yourself. When life is crazy, and I can’t understand, you will find me either with my God, my wife, or my Taekwondo family. These are the greatest influences in my life!

Where are you being influenced? What group of people do you trust when your world is crazy? Always make sure it is people who are truly in your corner!

The Way Turns 30!

What an incredible honor and privilege it is to be writing this blog! 30 Years of Taekwondo excellence, WOW! The Way Taekwondo would like to share with you a bit of our journey of 30 years.

Truth be told, it was around October of 1989 that The Way was first conceptualized. The idea was to create a martial arts ministry team for a multi-art evangelistic group known as “Crossfire.” Among those dreamers were Kung Fu stylists, Taekwondo Stylists, and people who had dreams, but no training. They began to search for the best way to utilize martial arts to share their Christian testimony to the community around them. They discovered the United States Chung Do Kwan Association, and their Christian subset, the Taekwondo Rangers. Training with the Sell Team began promptly to convert the martial artists to traditional Taekwondo stylists in the Chung Do Kwan style of Taekwondo. By January of 1990, the program opened as the Taekwondo Team for Crossfire, under the direction of Master Kevin Kugler (Then, Mr. Kugler) with Parkway Baptist Church student ministries.

At first, the program was merely people trying to be better so they could perform better demonstrations, but it wouldn’t be long before people started gaining interest in this church Taekwondo program. They began to expand, separating the demonstration team out from the “regular program.” Within merely 4 years of the program’s beginning, there was a room full of demo team members training and another full room of regular practitioners.

As time went on, Master Kugler began to oversee a program that was busting at the seams. The program would have to rent larger spaces to hold testings in one large group. By this time, The Way was operating under the name “Parkway Baptist Taekwondo,” and was a regular fixture within the United States Chung Do Kwan and Taekwondo Rangers special events, training sessions, and tournaments, producing high-quality black belts and instructors.

Master Kugler contracted brain cancer, and though only given 6 months to live, he fought bravely for another 2 years, even continuing to lead Parkway Baptist Taekwondo as his health allowed. Several students even got opportunities to spar with him long after he was supposed to have passed. Truly, he was an inspirational leader! Sadly, Master Kugler passed away in December of 2004. The program was then passed on to Master Dave Jarvis, who was Master Kugler’s senior student. Master Jarvis would lead the program through 2011, during which time, his senior student, Master Felicity Miller would take control.

During the time that Master Jarvis and Master Miller were exchanging the charter, the program was moved to University Presbyterian Church and, truth be told, barely made it through the transition. The program dwindled to only a very small handful of students, and under Master Miller’s leadership and dedication, the program began to build steam again, packing out the training area provided! It was during this time that Parkway Baptist Taekwondo would officially become The Way Christian Taekwondo University, and our first logo was designed by Master Austin Moats. The silhouette of the original logo design is actually of Master Moats himself!

Master Miller retired in 2015, appointing Master Christopher Courington as the senior instructor. Master Courington was a student of Master Kugler and had founded a separate program at a YMCA. When the YMCA changed their creative direction, and chose to close the program, Master Courington returned to train along side Master Miller. During the time of the transfer of Charter, Master Miller appointed Chief Instructor Toavs to be the lead instructor of a new location at Crosslife Church.

Master Courington would see the program also expand to Eastpoint Fellowship, making this humble program into a 3-location school, with Master Courington leading the Eastpoint location, Chief Instructors Katie and Landon Noland in charge of the University Presbyterian location, and Chief Instructor Toavs in charge of the Crosslife location.

Unfortunately, both University Presbyterian and Eastpoint had need to close their doors to the program for differing reasons, but the staff found a silver lining in that everyone was able to regularly train together again. Now, The Way has consolidated resources, and formed tight leadership teams that have helped to even further improve the quality of instruction within the program. As the program enters its 30th year of operation, the logo has gotten an overhaul, as well as several other facets of the program’s standards of operation.

Through all of this, one thing we have learned as a program is simply this. Not a single instructor has done this on his or her own. We all have needed help from those around us, and we have all looked to our instructor, Grandmaster Brenda J. Sell for guidance. It has been the goal of The Way CTU to build legacy into each and every student, and for each student and each black belt to have a place to call home, and people to call family.

The highest ranked non-Korean female Taekwondo Practitioner in the world!

GM Brenda J. Sell

Brenda J. Sell (64 years old) is an American Taekwondo instructor, and the highest ranking non-Korean female practitioner of Taekwondo, according to the Kukkiwon, an international ranking body within Taekwondo. She holds the rank of 9th Dan black belt in the Korean art.

Grandmaster Brenda Sell at the U.S. Chung Do Kwan Association
National Tournament
Grandmaster Brenda Sell at the Barcalona World Championships

Grandmaster Brenda Sell is the president and CEO of the United States Chung Do Kwan Association, the oldest Taekwondo association in America, representing the oldest Taekwondo school in the world (Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan). Grandmaster Sell has blazed a trail for women in Taekwondo her entire life. In 1977, Grandmaster Sell became the first female to ever be recognized as an international referee by the World Taekwondo Federation. The first Women’s world championships was held in Barcelona, Spain in 1987, and Grandmaster Sell was on the team of the first women ever to referee a Taekwondo tournament as a certified official. In 2012, she was awarded her 9th degree black belt in Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan, making her the highest-ranked Chung Do Kwan female in the world, and in 2017, she stood before the Kukkiwon testing board, and was promoted to 9th dan in the Kukkiwon, making her the 2nd highest-ranked female, and the highest-ranked female not of Korean decent in the world of Taekwondo. During her journey to 9th dan Kukkiwon, Grandmaster Sell was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors cite her faith in God, and her commitment to Taekwondo as essential to her health. Essentially, her commitment to God and Taekwondo saved her life! Grandmaster Sell’s unique journey in Taekwondo has caused The Taekwondo Times to dub her “One-in-ten-million!” To date, only Grandmaster Myong Sok Namkung-Mayes and Grandmaster Brenda Jean Sell have the honor of the title of 9th dan Kukkiwon females. Truly, these two women are an inspiration to women the world over!

Grandmaster Mayes and Grandmaster Sell, the two highest-ranked women in the world of Taekwondo

Article by: Head Master Christopher Courington, 6th dan USCDKA/3rd Dan KKW

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