6th Degree in Taekwondo is considered a high-dan masters rank and is only permitted after years of dedication and much work. Age and training requirement(s) must be met before a student is even recommended to test for such an honor. Master Nick has been a Taekwondo student for over 31 years and has been a head instructor for 20 years.
The test of Master Nick and fellow black belts was held on April 29th in St. Cloud. GRAND MASTER JIN YOUNG KIM, a 9th Degree originally from KOREA did the testing. The test under Grand Master Kim was of techniques, numerous and multiple-board breaks, written and oral exams and essays and was a five plus hour duration of physically and mentally demanding martial arts abilities. A 6th Dan Test is one of skill, perseverance, knowledge of the sport and life style and the promotion comes with many responsibilities.
"An important aspect of Tae Kwon Do and what we teach to our students are the tenets of Tae Kwon Do: courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit," he said. "They have served as life lessons for both myself and my two daughters who have been able to participate with me."
Kirlin said making friends at the gym is what he enjoys most. "I have been able to meet a lot of folks I probably wouldn't have crossed paths with,"
He said , "I believe we are the first two students of Master Nick's to go completely through training at his gym and attain the master rank," Kirlin said. "One in 10 starting students will get to black belt and of those 1 in 10 will get to second. The time and training between tests lengthens as you progress. There are more expectations."
Both of his daughters are First Degree Black belt as well.
Both Master Shane and Master Chris have traveled to Korea for training on separate trips.
We are so proud of their Achievements
Master Chris studied karate from age 8-13. He said the martial arts have given him confidence. "Particularly as a child, I was kind of shy and karate made me carry myself differently and think of myself differently," he said. "I played team sports as a kid, but I wasn't one of the star players. Martial arts gave me the ability to excel on my own while still being a part of a training team."
His daughter, Cascade, has been one of his students, earning a second-degree black belt. "She and one other student tested right after their 15th birthdays and became youngest second-degree black belts in Park Rapids history," he said.
The master's test has several components. He said testing is like a marathon, with intense physical aspects. It also involves history of Korea and the martial arts. He said overcoming limits is the biggest thing he has learned from Master Nick. "If I say I can't do something, he tells me he knows I can," he said. "It just might take a little more practice. He tells me how to push beyond those boundaries I sometimes put on myself and do things I didn't think I could do."