LAHAINA - One of the longest running martial arts organizations on Maui and in the state, Casco's Tae Kwon-Do, held Dan (black belt) examinations on Aug. 11 before a packed gathering of family and supporters at Lahaina Civic Center.
Master Instructor Randy Casco, VII Dan (seventh degree black belt) and founder in 1981 of the club in Lahaina, along with Kihei TKD Chief Instructor Kevin Spencer (fifth degree black belt) and Stacy Casco (third degree) formed the examiners' panel that oversaw the grueling testing that lasted over two hours.
Four Maui TKD students - one from the Lahaina club and three from Kihei - took the test that included patterns, kicking (jumping, flying), step sparring, self defense and breaking techniques.
From left, Shannon Christianson, Mariana Landeros-Ortiz, Randy Casco, Kevin Spencer, Sean Suetos and Jamse Arnold gather after the black belt examinations.
Fourteen-year-old Baldwin High School student Jamse Arnold, Waihee farmer Shannon Christianson and Wailea Marriott employee Sean Suetos - all from Spencer's club in Kihei - and Casco's Tae Kwon-Do and Lahaina resident Mariana Landeros-Ortiz, who runs a cleaning business, took the examination on this sultry Maui morning.
Suetos has been practicing the Korean martial art for 12 years and was testing for II Dan/second degree, while young Arnold and his mom, Christianson, who have been training in TKD for eight and seven years, respectively, and Landeros-Ortiz, with five years of practice under her belt, were all taking the I Dan/first degree examination.
Following the testing, Master Casco, the highest ranking United States Tae Kwon-Do Federation instructor in Hawaii and the first to be promoted and honored with such ranking, implored the students to continue to practice the martial art and to pass on their knowledge to newer practitioners.
"Try to implement your techniques into your training and strive for improvement. Pass what you have learned on to the junior students," he stated.
Master Casco added, "The test results will be examined over the next week, and confirmation of the rankings will come from headquarters in Colorado."
Special awards for referee training certification were then passed out to several students from both the Lahaina and Kihei clubs, and Suetos was recognized as the outstanding performer of the testing.
Casco's Tae Kwon-Do holds classes taught by Randy Casco, Senior Assistant Instructor Wayne Cochran (II Dan), and Assistant Instructor Ron Balagso (I Dan) Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Lahaina Civic Center, while Spencer's TKD is located at Kihei Community Center. For more information, call 661-4685.