By Sgt. Lee, Yoon Joo, 2ID Public Affairs OfficeApril 16, 2007
With a loud yell, a camouflaged Soldier wearing a Taekwondo uniform jumps up and within a few seconds all four wooden plates held by other Soldiers break in half, not able to resist the powerful and swift jump kick.
Taekwondo performance has been a regular part of many official 2nd Infantry Division events. Ever wondered about the performers of these great shows' They are the 2ID Taekwondo Team, the only Taekwondo demonstration team in 2ID.
The 2ID Taekwondo Team began in March 2000 by Maj. Gen. Russel L. Honore, the 2ID commanding general from 2000-2002. When Honore watched a Taekwondo performance of ROK special forces at an official event, he was so impressed that he decided to make a Taekwondo team in 2ID. He put Grandmaster Kim, Mun Ok in charge of this project, and the 2ID Taekwondo Team was born.
However, after five years, the team had to be disbanded due to a budget deficit. One year after it was disbanded, the 2ID Taekwondo Team was reactivated by the order of Maj. Gen. James A. Coggin, the current commanding general of 2ID, and made another successful debut.
"Maj. Gen. Coggin has great interest in Taekwondo, which was another reason for the reactivation of the 2ID Taekwondo Team," Grandmaster Kim said.
There have been some glorious moments for the team during the past years. Just after the team was created, in 2000, they were invited to perform in the Gyeonggi Province International Exposition opening ceremony. The team members were novices, barely knowing anything about Taekwondo.
Yet, Grandmaster Kim did not want to turn down this great chance and decided to do his best to train the Soldiers for the performance depite only having three days' preparation. The team trained very hard, eating and sleeping in the gym. Only after the performance began were Grandmaster Kim and his Soldiers able to know the training really paid off. The Soldiers pulled off an excellent performance at the ceremony, impressing the audience.
"That was the hardest and most memorable moment for me," Grandmaster Kim said. "It was the result of great passion and efforts of our Soldiers."
In 2004, the team participated in the World Taekwondo Hanmadang, the prestigious international Taekwondo competition event held in Korea and the 2ID team placed fourth. Taekwondo teams from 36 countries participated in the event.
The 2ID Taekwondo Team is planning for more impressive achievements in the future. Grandmaster Kim is planning to expand the Taekwondo team program to be 8th Army-wide in June. They were also invited to perform at the U.S. Veteran Association opening ceremony this year. They will also participate in the annual U.S. Open Taekwondo Championship, an international Taekwondo event held in the United States. The team has participated in this event several times and received one gold medal and three silver medals in 2002, and two silver medals and one bronze medal in 2003.
Currently, the team consists of 17 U.S. Soldiers and six KATUSA Soldiers with past martial arts experience. All were selected from 2ID units through Taekwondo testing.
"Since team members are selected from their own respective units by qualifying by the test, they have great pride in themselves," said Cpl. Joo, Soo Hyung, a member of the 2ID Taekwondo Team who was selected from 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery last October. "Because there are only 23 members on the team, we spend time together more often, bringing us closer."
They spend their day time practicing, from basic movement skills to more sophisticated techniques, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The team also participates in morning physical training as PT instructors for battalion-level PT events.
"It is hard work and takes dedication to train," said Pfc. Alexander Wood, another member of the team from 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry, "but we have our team members who are always there for each other to help improve and grow."
"Besides, it is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you would not get anywhere else," Wood added.