SHEARSTOWN, NL — One of the two seventh-degree black belts in Newfoundland is hoping to move on to the eighth.
Wes Earle of Shearstown has been involved in taekwondo for decades, starting when he began taking lessons the late seventies.
From there, his love for the sport only grew stronger.
Now, Earle is at the top of Newfoundland’s taekwondo community as the senior seventh-degree black belt in the province. Only one other person on the island has a seventh-degree black belt in taekwondo.
Now, Earle is looking to expand his understanding of the sport even further, and is hoping to move forward into eighth degree at the end of December, making him the only person to ever achieve this in the history of the province.
In mid-November 2017, Earle spent 10 days in Seoul, South Korea, where he practiced, trained and was tested on his understanding and mastery of taekwondo.
Back home in Shearstown, Earle is now playing the waiting game to hear back on his results, which will determine whether he’s eligible to move up in rank.
“It was an amazing experience,” Earle told the Compass.
“South Korea, or at least the part I was in, is so different than here in Newfoundland. The culture, scenery, everything. It’s always been a dream of mine to travel there and reach this level, and it just feels great to be one step closer.
“I don’t want to sound too over-confident, but I think the testing went really well. If I were to go back and do it again, I don’t think I’d be able to do it any better,” he said.
While in Seoul, Earle was a part of a four-hour taekwondo seminar followed by a one-hour test that included all sorts of taekwondo movements, and ensured that Earle was up to date on all aspects of the sport.
He also did an interview with both the president of taekwondo and the secretary general.
“Where I went is the kukkiwon – the world taekwondo headquarters,” Earle said. “Anybody looking to move on from seventh degree and into eighth is going to have to go to Seoul, and go there.”
However, as Earle explained, there is even more to it than that.
Earle also had to complete a 10-page thesis, complete an application, receive a letter of recommendation from the president of taekwondo Canada, and provide an updated resume that detailed his history with taekwondo, which took months leading up to the moment where he traveled to Korea to be tested.
A candidate must spend a minimum of eight years as a seventh degree before moving on to eighth, and then another nine years before moving onto the ninth, and final, degree – something Earle said he is hoping to achieve in the future.
Earle has spent decades teaching and training fellow Newfoundlanders the ways of taekwondo from his own school located in Shearstown – Earle’s Tae Kwon Do.
“It’s a passion. I’ve been involved in taekwondo since 1979 when me and my brother joined lessons,” said Earle. “We brought taekwondo to the east coast of Newfoundland in 1982, and I’ve had the school open ever since. It really is a dream of mine to move forward like this, to go to Korea and train, and I really would love to keep pushing it until I’m a ninth degree – a grandmaster.”