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Four students earn black belts in Taekwondo

By Staff | Oct 20, 2016

From left, Master Randy Casco, Brianna Doan, Katie Villanueva, Milena La Monica, Kanen La Monica and Master Kevin Spencer celebrate the students’ black belt test.

LAHAINA – Some 15 years ago, in being complimented on the exemplary job she and her husband had done in raising their three sons, who are among the outstanding scholar-athletes in the history of Lahainaluna High School, Stacy Casco replied, “No, it’s not us; it’s the village that raises the child.”

Indeed, the West Side continues to grow and build strength as a nurturing, grassroots community, but there is no denying the contributions of organizations, individuals and families like the Cascos, which are immeasurable in defining our island home.

Upon closer inspection, you find longtime residents like Stacy and Randy Casco, who have dedicated their adult lives to the perpetuation of the gold standard of integrity, built upon an iron-forged work ethic, deep respect for others and the wisdom of aloha.

Randy returned to Maui after serving the country in the United States Air Force and began his career as a physical education teacher at Lahaina Intermediate School as well as coaching track and field at Lahainaluna. Along the way, Randy entered the traditional martial arts pathway of Taekwondo. Now, almost 40 years later, he is Master Randy Casco, VII Dan, or Seventh Degree Black Belt, in the United States Taekwondo Federation and chief instructor of Casco’s Taekwondo based at the Lahaina Civic Center with an affiliate school in Kihei.

Four young students of Casco’s Taekwondo – one from Lahaina and three from the Kihei branch headed up by Kevin Spencer, V Dan (Fifth Degree) – stepped forward to take the black belt test three weeks ago in the Lahaina Intermediate School cafeteria administered by Master Casco, Master Spencer and Lahaina assistant instructor Ron Balagso, II Dan.

Those candidates included Brianna Doan, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at LIS and the daughter of Tammy and Daniel Doan of Lahaina; Kanen La Monica, 15, a sophomore at Seabury Hall, and Milena La Monica, 17, a senior at Seabury, both the children of Carla and Vincent La Monica of Kihei; and Katie Villanueva, 17, a Baldwin High School senior and daughter of Emily and Rafino Villanueva of Kihei.

The nerve-wracking and physically demanding two-hour examination included requirements of patterns (hyung); advanced consecutive, advanced combination and twin-foot flying kicking (chagi); advanced one-step, advanced semi-free, and free sparring (kyorugi); self-defense (ho sin sul) against one attacker employing ten different techniques; and power foot, power hand and technique breaking requirements.

Upon completion of the testing, Master Casco congratulated the four young students and implored them to continue to practice the refinement of character that is manifested in Taekwondo. He also recognized the families of the examinees as well as the students that continue to practice at both the Lahaina and Kihei locations.

“Taekwondo has made me the person I am today. I have learned the respect and perseverance that comes with the practice of this martial art, and I know that you will continue that spirit,” he concluded.