Strathconas in Taekwondo

By Major Clayton Gardner

The Canadian Division Support Group Base Edmonton Taekwondo team is without a doubt the best Taekwondo team in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).  The team traveled to the CAF Taekwondo Nationals in Toronto, 15 – 17 November 2013, and blew away the competition.  The athletes competed against both military and civilian opponents in the Toronto Open tournament, which served as the venue for the CAF Nationals.  In total, the 13-person team took home 14 medals: five gold, four silver, four bronze, and a special award.

Corporal Alex Aguila, from the Strathcona Mounted Troop, fought three exciting matches in the men’s yellow belt category.  He did extremely well, defeating his opponents in the first two matches and then missing the gold medal by two points in an extremely close final.  He walked away with a Silver medal.  Unable to compete in sparring due to a recent injury (but undaunted), Major Clayton Gardner, Officer Commanding B Squadron, won Gold in the 1st Dan Male Executive patterns division.  Another notable victory for the Regiment was the team’s Head Coach, Captain John Kim, Second-in-Command of A Squadron, who was the recipient of the Dedication to CAF Sports Award.   As the coach, he was responsible for not only providing training and guidance to all the team members, but was also very active in the promotion of Taekwondo throughout the base and the recruitment of new team members.  A respected member of the CAF Taekwondo community, he is also the International Military Sports Council (CISM) team’s Assistant Coach.

The Edmonton Taekwondo team is most likely the best Martial Arts Team at any base in the CAF.  We are extremely lucky to have such an experienced group of coaching staff and instructors posted to one location.  In addition to our coach, we have 3rd, 4th and 5th degree black belt assistant instructors with one of them being on the Canadian National Team.  Our newest assistant instructor, Corporal Sinyoung Kang (1 MP Regt), was once on the Korean National team.  With 25 years experience in Taekwondo, I can honestly say that our Base Edmonton Taekwondo team is better than most private clubs in Edmonton with the added benefit of being no cost to the individual.  You need only to provide your time and dedication. 

Taekwondo is a natural fit for the combat arms professional.  The dedication, discipline, perseverance, and warrior spirit that is taught and ever present during martial art training and competition are attributes reflected during our own military training exercises and operations.  This sentiment was expressed by 3rd Canadian Division Commander and newly appointed CAF Patron of Taekwondo, Brigadier General Christian Juneau.  At the closing ceremony, Brigadier General Juneau explained why he took on the appointment as the Patron: “The discipline exhibited by the sport and its athletes mirrors the same discipline we ask of our soldiers.  I am very proud to represent the sport and hope it can grow within our ranks”.

You fight as an individual, but with the Base Edmonton Taekwondo team, you have the benefit of everything done within a team setting with a great support network.  That is why the athletes are able to develop so quickly and be so successful. If you are looking to get back into Taekwondo or learn a martial art in a competitive team environment, then our Taekwondo team is likely for you.  I look forward to seeing more Strathconas on this team in the future.