Brett Hinds, right, a 4th degree black belt and instructor at McAlester Taekwondo gives instructions to 10-year-old Grant Raue who is preparing for his upcoming rank test.

Taekwondo is a form of the martial arts that has its origins in Korea. Not only is it one of the most popular and widely practiced martial arts in the world. It is also proving to be very popular in the McAlester area by the number of students that are enrolled in the McAlester Taekwondo school.

Students of the school have been practicing for weeks in preparation for their upcoming rank test which is designed to see if a student has learned the skills necessary to advance to a higher color belt. The tests were held recently at the Puterbaugh Middle School gymnasium

The students knew they would be testing under the watchful eye of Grandmaster Jack Hwang, a 9th Dan (9th degree black belt) in Taekwondo, and each one wanted to perform at their highest level.

Hwang is also the President of the International Martial Arts Federation, based in Oklahoma City. McAlester Taekwondo is a member of the federation and the school has been in the McAlester area, under the direction of various instructors, for over 30 years.

The school’s current head instructor and Chief Sah Bum Nim is 5th degree black belt Ray Harp. Sah Bum Nim translates as ‘teaching father.’

Brett Hinds is the assistant head instructor and is a 4th degree black belt. “We are very pleased with how our students performed at their rank tests,” Hinds said. “I am especially proud of our students that advanced from white belt to orange belt. That progression is one of the most difficult rank advancements. It is probably the second most difficult test they will ever have to face in Taekwondo. There is a large amount of knowledge that is required to perform the test properly.”

First degree black belt Betsy Dew is also an instructor at the school and she thought the students who tested did an excellent job.

“I am very happy with the performance of our students,” said Dew. “It is always an honor to have Grandmaster Hwang come down from Oklahoma City and personally test our students.”

In addition to the testing, Dew said that Mr. Hwang also conducted a special class for upper rank students in the instruction of self-defense techniques from seated positions. There was also a demonstration of the techniques.

“Tae-kwon-do,” translated literally means: Foot Hand Way. It is the national sport of South Korea and is also an Olympic sporting event.

Students who advanced are as follows; advancing to the rank of orange belt - Tasha Meashintubby, Faith Woody, Rebecca Frausto, Kallie Schoggins; to green belt - Patrick Ramsey and Lesa Bingham; to purple belt - Chelsea Artusse; to brown belt - Lorie Artusse, Jo Stewart and Preston Bingham.

Instructor Brett Hinds was promoted to 4th degree black belt.

The McAlester Taekwondo is located at 1226 S. Main.

Their Web site is and their phone number is 470-7170. They have classes for students age 5 to adult.

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