CRESTVIEW — Gordon Martial Arts held its promotional ceremony Friday in Crestview’s Community Center where roughly 130 students moved up in rank.

Among honorees, two junior — under 18 — black belts were awarded to Bradley Johnston and Ashton Mobly.

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CRESTVIEW — Gordon Martial Arts held its promotional ceremony Friday in Crestview’s Community Center where roughly 130 students moved up in rank.

Among honorees, two junior — under 18 — black belts were awarded to Bradley Johnston and Ashton Mobly.  

“They are celebrating their promotion and hard work for the past three months. There [are] three months in between testing cycles and for the taekwondo students, the first stripe is beginning moves, the second stripe is their form and the third stripe is self-defense moves,” said Mary Valdez, a Crestview resident with two black belts in Hapkido and combat jiu-jitsu. “They have to demonstrate those three things to have three stripes before they are able to test for their next color belt.”

Gordon Martial Arts offers classes in taekwondo, Hapkido and combat jiu-jitsu for both kids and adults. A local pediatrician, Dr. Alberto Barbon, was promoted to third degree in Hapkido (a martial arts form that consists primarily of joint manipulations and throws) and Amanda Howard was promoted to fourth degree in taekwondo. She also earned instructor status. A dedicated student, in 2006, Howard traveled to South Korea to test for her third-degree belt.

“Martial arts for us is a bigger picture than just a kick and punch,” said Thomas Gordon, an instructor who owns the studio. “We also teach the tenets of taekwondo, which are integrity, perseverance and the indomitable spirit, and we help the kids who are hyper [to] calm down a little bit and the kids who are shy come out of their shell a little bit.”

Jay Sanders, the principal of Davidson Middle School, was the event’s guest speaker and explained taekwondo’s tenets of perseverance as it related to the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic distance runner who was also a prisoner of war survivor in World War II. 

At promotional ceremonies, the guest speaker also selects the charity for donating money that was raised by passing a box throughout the audience, and Sanders picked Relay For Life (a cancer walk sponsored by The American Cancer Society) as the recipient of the $180.45 raised that evening.

In August, Gordon will travel to Canada for the Korean Martial Arts Master’s Hall of Fame and in September, Gordon Martial Arts will offer a women’s self-defense clinic with the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Department. 

The next promotional ceremony will take place in September.