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New instructors reignite taekwondo on Bowen Island
When Gregory Ronczewski attempted to sign up his son for taekwondo classes on Bowen Island four years ago, his name was instantly placed on a two-month-long waiting list.
"There was no room, too many students, it was so popular," he recalled.
"When finally there was a spot for Alex, the school was just taken over by Master Ryu, a young and full-of-energy taekwondo master from (South) Korea."
But after Ryu returned to his home country to attend to family business, the local martial arts studio fell into a rotating cycle of taekwondo masters. None of them stuck, for various reasons.
"We are so sad such a wonderful gym is just sitting there," Ronczewski said.
Enter Scot Strachan and Michelle Park.
The pair, who have been training martial arts to youths for more than 20 years in Squamish, B.C., began hopping on the ferry in September to offer classes to Bowen Island residents at the old taekwondo facility at Artisan Square.
"Our first impression of Bowen Island TKD (taekwondo) students was positive. We felt that there were much excitement to have TKD back in the community," said Strachan, a sixth-degree black belt master in taekwondo.
Although he originally studied judo and karate as an adolescent, that was all before he met Park, his future wife, when he was 18.
She had been studying taekwondo since she was a child growing up in South Korea, where the art was taught at the elementary school she attended.
After moving to Canada as a teen, Park — now a fourth-degree black belt — inspired Strachan to take up taekwondo and the couple has been studying everything from Brazilian jiujitsu to yoga since then.
"It was nice to see some of the previous adult (Bowen) students showing their traditional side of martial arts — etiquette," Strachan said.
"The benefit of martial arts is in long term commitment (and) practising the tenants of TKD — courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit. It takes time to build such reference in the mind and body through physical and mental discipline."
And parents such as Ronczewski couldn't be more delighted with the programming.
"It is absolutely fantastic," he said.
"I haven't seen anything of that calibre on Bowen Island for the last three and a half years."
Classes take place Mondays and Wednesday at Artisan Square. Those interested in taking up taekwondo can call Strachan or Park at 604-892-3710 or visit squamishmartialarts.com.