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Canadian Elite Welcomes Master Galarraga to Canada
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Canadian Elite Taekwon-do was pleased to have Argentina’s Master Nestor Galarraga VIII th Dan come to Canada in late February to teach an Umpire course. Mr. Demers and Mr. Reid welcomed Master Galarraga to Ottawa on one of the coldest days of the winter so far, the temperature was about –23celcius during the day and it dropped down that night to –30celcius. We are grateful that he did not turn around and go right back home where he told us it was nice and warm.

Our three-day course started off on Friday night with a check in from all of the students that were participating in the course. We had Canadians from one end of the country to the other and we welcomed some American students as well. There were black belts from VI th Dan all the way down to yellow belts, from all age ranges, who came to learn from Master Galarraga. On Friday night we started with an overview of what we needed to know in order to Umpire at a World level and Master Galarraga also told us about some of the exciting things that he is doing for Taekwon-do. We had a special surprise that evening when Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa, Master James Lim and Master Parm Rai took a break from meetings they were attending to come by our training area to visit with Master Galarraga and the students. It was quite an honor for all of us.

The next two days were packed with information. As black belts we have some knowledge about how umpiring works and how competitions are run. Some of us had been to a World level tournament and have seen all of this in motion but until you sit down and actually learn about this you do not realize how much effort, training and planning goes into a competition at this level. We not only learned about the umpiring side of the competition but as well we learned about the different roles that people play, such as the coaches responsibilities, the jury table members responsibilities as well as those of the center referee and the corner judges.

After Master Galarraga went over all of the information with us, on Sunday it was time to practice. This was, were the fun began. We all had the opportunity to be a center referee, to practice what we had learned, the Korean terminology, body motions and hand gestures, all put together for the fist time for some of us made for a very interesting interpretation of how things were supposed to be done. It is not as easy as it looks. But perseverance is one of the tenants that we all live by so we just kept trying.

For all of us it was a very interesting weekend in many different ways. First the course we took was amazing and we learned so much. For some people it was the first time they met Grand Master Choi and doing so in a small personal setting is something many will not forget. Some of us were amazed to see a few of our bigger more sturdy black belts taken down to the ground by Master Galarraga as if they were little more than rag dolls, when he did some self-defense with us during a break. But many of us were in awe about Master Galarraga himself. We had only ever seen him as tournament director at the past few World Championships. So we knew him as a no-nonsense, hard working, serious person who was focused only on Taekwon-do. We met a little bit of a different man over the weekend. He was hard working and focused as he taught us what we needed to know but at the same time, he was very personable man, he would joke around with us, teased us and laughed with us during our practice time. He is an awesome teacher and a lot of fun to be around, Argentina and the world of Taekwon-do are lucky to have him.

We want to Thank Master Galarraga again for an informative, entertaining weekend, we all enjoyed his presence very much and hope that he will come back to Canada despite the weather. He left us on Tuesday night to go back home to his warm country, just in time in fact, we were bombarded with a series of snow storms starting Wednesday, that left our city snowed in for almost a week with over 75cm snow in total.

Taekwon

Mr. Michel Demers VI Dan
Mrs. Tina Ford III Dan
Canadian Elite Taekwon-do

Written by: Tine Ford - 18th March 2008

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