A local taekwondo master was surprised recently by a national award for his work and contribution to the sport.
Grandmaster Dwight Stevens, founder and head instructor for the Stevens Taekwondo Academy schools, was honored by the USA Taekwondo 2012 Lifetime Service Award, the ninth martial artist to be so recognized by the organization.
The citation noted that Stevens has “devoted decades of service to the advancement of the sport” as an athlete, instructor, coach and leader and was one of the first Americans to earn the rank of certified International Referee for taekwondo.
In addition to the long-running taekwondo program through the YMCA, Stevens was instrumental in establishing and instructing in the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point taekwondo program and oversees several branch schools through his advanced students. He is a certified Inayan Pressure Sensitive Nerve Area instructor and has worked with many law enforcement agencies teaching special techniques. Stevens has trained thousands of students of all ages with more than 850 black belts earned, and participated in national events, including selection of Olympic athletes.
“I am honored and humbled by this award,” Stevens told his students afterward.
The announcement and plaque came as a surprise to Stevens, who did not know of his nomination by Master Steve Decker, instructor for schools in Port Edwards and Wausau, with assistance from Stevens’ son Grandmaster Robert Stevens, founder and head instructor at Stevens World Taekwondo in Denver and Senior Master Hilde Henkel.
Martial artists advance
More than 40 martial artists earned new belt rankings in promotion testing recently at the Stevens Point YMCA.
Eleven-year-old Isaac Williams earned his first dan black belt in impressive style, performing koryo and four taegeuk forms with great precision, before snapping a board with a back spinning side kick. Williams also demonstrated advanced kick combinations and sparring skills before answering oral examination on the codes, origins and philosophies of taekwondo.
Three student won trophies for excellence in the testing. Blue belt Ryokung Won earned first place, red belt Blake Carroll took second and yellow belt Alvin Cox placed third. Grandmaster Dwight Stevens judged the testing, assisted by senior masters Mark Henkel and Bill Dragolovich.