Thirty-three community members receive black belts in Taekwondo

December 20, 2012

Young Brothers Taekwondo announces the promotion of 33 students to the rank of first dan or higher.

Mai Palmer, age 18, receives her first dan black belt from Grandmaster Mark Giambi. Mai, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has been training at Young Brothers Taekwondo for seven years. Photo by Larry Pullen.

“These candidates trained exceptionally hard for this test,” said Grandmaster Mark Giambi, 8th dan. “They prepare mentally and physically in order to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. In the case of many of the junior black belts, they’ve been training half their lives, and for many of these black belts, this promotion is just a milestone on the life-long journey in the martial arts.”

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art of self-defense with a set of principles that make the practice relevant not just to health, fitness and personal safety benefits, but also to the student’s daily life. By applying the Taekwondo tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit to all aspects of life inside and outside the dojang (training hall), students improve their focus, discipline, decision-making skills and relationships.

“The physical benefits of regular training can’t be overstated,” said Grandmaster Giambi. “Students lose weight, improve flexibility, reduce stress and are able to protect themselves if necessary.”

In the ITF Taekwondo system, there are nine levels (gup) below the first black belt rank (dan). To be eligible for black belt testing, a candidate must complete all nine gups and pass a pre-test. During the black belt test, students perform patterns (tul), which are choreographed simulations of attacks and defenses; demonstrate self-defenses with a partner, exhibit proficiency in sparring, and successfully break boards with a variety of kicks.

Students promoted to new ranks are: 4th Dan: Jim Kastleman. 3rd Dan: Tara Gautier. 3rd Dan Jr.: Cameron Gibbons. 2nd Dan: Chris Cander, Michael R. Rodriguez. 2nd Dan Jr.: Pola Aronowski, Alejandro Certuche, Sebastian Certuche, Rwendy Lune, Anna Moise, Carlos Ramos, Michael C. Rodriguez. 1st Dan: Mai Lynne Palmer. 1st Dan Jr.: Beau Bradley, John Capelli, Joseph Capelli, Brandon Cole, Arturo Dzul, Logan Gill, Mikaela Juzswik, Porter Lee, Jackson Lee, William Pyper Mckay, Jade Moon, Ioana Nechiti, Petru Nechiti, Blake Noteboom, Garrett Noteboom, Abby Shin, Michael Skaribus, Jonathan Varcados, Maia Vo, and Leigh Vo.

Brothers Young Il Kong and Young Bo Kong, both 9th dan, trained under the “father of Taekwondo,” General Choi Hong Hi, and pioneered the spread of the martial art throughout the United States. In 1968, they founded Young Brothers Taekwondo
Associates. In 1982, their longtime student, Grandmaster Mark Giambi, who began training at the age of 11, established the Young Brothers Taekwondo Centers in Houston. Grandmaster Giambi has been training students in the West University/Bellaire community for 26 years.

For more information, visit or call (713) 666-6655. There will be a free self-defense class for adults on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 from 12-2 p.m.