Lead instructor John Orndorff was recognized and several students missed the first two days of school to compete at the event.
Orndorff received a certificate and the title of chief master by the National Korean Martial Arts Association (NKMAA). NAMAI instructor Chris Burns said the title isn’t necessarily related to rank, but has a lot to do with one’s success as an instructor.
“It is a title bestowed upon a martial arts instructor who has had a student test for and achieve the rank of master in the martial arts through the NKMAA,” said Orndorff, who was honored to receive the title.
Burns said three students went through a “long and grueling” test to advance in black belt rank. All three of those students are younger than 16. He also said it was one of the hardest tests he had ever seen.
“It was very inspiring for me to see young people that were willing to push themselves and not give up,” Burns added. “Through (any) strains or injuries they might have had, they just kept going. I was really proud of them. We all were.”
Samantha Bussert, of Norwalk, became teary-eyed when describing the impact the martial arts school has had on her daughter, Laila Bussert, who was among the students competing this weekend.
“As a single parent, they’ve helped me raise my daughter,” she said. “I’m just so grateful to all of them for being part of Laila’s life. It brings me to tears.”
Laila Bussert received her second degree black belt and also placed second in forms competition this weekend, her mother added.
Burns said achieving the black belt is about more than just rank. The martial arts school tries to make character development an integral part of its training program, he added.
“It’s (about) whether or not you’re doing the best you can in any given circumstance or situation,” said Burns. “That’s what it really means to us to be a black belt.”