Gordon Martial Arts fall promotions feature several families

Brian Hughes | Special to the News Bulletin/USA TODAY NETWORK

CRESTVIEW — Luly and Ramon Martinez don’t care that their oldest son, Ramon II, outranks his parents.

His advancement in Taekwondo means his proficiency in the martial art is improving, and that makes them proud.

Instructors, administrators and students gather for a group photo during Gordon Martial Arts’ promotion ceremony Oct. 1 in Crestview.

During Gordon Martial Arts’ Oct. 1 belt promotion ceremony, Ramon II received his second-degree black belt, bumping him above his dad’s probationary black belt and his mom’s orange belt. And his little brother, Rodrigo, received a black belt of his own, tying his dad’s.

“We take being a family center seriously,” academy owner Tom Gordon said. “You look around, you see lots of kids in uniforms sitting with parents who are also in uniform.”

Mayor JB Whitten and instructor Greg Bledsoe observe as Gordon Martial Arts owner Tom Gordon introduces probationary black belt recipients Ramon Martinez, Sydney Hann and Mason Rushing Oct. 1 in Crestview.

Or as Shaline Rampersad succinctly put it, “The family that kicks together stays together.”

She received her yellow belt, but is outranked by her daughter Zoe, 4, who earned her gold belt, and her son Zander, 6, whose new blue belt she helped tie on, removing the green belt he wore when he entered the Crestview Community Center that evening.

“It feels really great,” Zander said, “because I’m going to be in the intermediate class now.”

He's moving up from being a beginner in Gordon’s Mini Martials.

Shaline Rampersad embraces her children at the Gordon Martial Arts promotion ceremony Oct. 4 in Crestview, Zoe, 4, and Zander, 6, outrank their mom in Taekwondo.

Four-year-olds like Zoe are by no means the exception at Gordon Martial Arts. Her Mini Martials classmate, Kyson Bronk, could barely climb the stairs to the stage to accept his yellow belt, but diminutive stature sure didn’t stop him.

Gordon instructors assume more than just a leadership role. They befriend their younger charges, making them feel comfortable and appreciated. When one little boy was apprehensive about coming forward to accept his new belt, teacher Amanda Howard went back into the audience and held his hand as she escorted him up front.

Crestview Mayor JB Whitten speaks during the Gordon Martial Arts belt promotion ceremony Oct. 1 in Crestview. A voluntary collection after his remarks raised $260.64 for the Church of the Nazarene’s Sunday food kitchen.

During his remarks as guest speaker — during which he broke a board with a swift chop — Mayor JB Whitten told the students that by learning self-defense, they are helping make Crestview a safer city while developing leadership skills that will help them become community leaders themselves.

“You young people are helping me by taking your safety and security personally,” he said. “I really appreciate what you guys are doing, because one day, you are going to be leaders of the great city of Crestview.”

Two of Gordon Martial Arts most senior students are retirees Lane and Pat Watkins, seen receiving kudos from the academy’s instructors for achieving their new belts in Hapkido Oct. 1 in Crestview.

Then, during the ceremony, Rodrigo Martinez and Douglas Libby took a step closer to positions of leadership themselves when they were presented the coveted black uniform of Gordon Martial Arts’ leadership students.

“It’s by nomination only,” Gordon said. “There’s no charge and you can’t buy your way in. You’ve got to earn it.”

Gordon Martial Arts Mini Martials and Juniors mug for the camera at their belt promotion ceremony Oct. 1 in Crestview.

In all, more than 100 belt promotions were earned by Gordon Martial Arts students at the Oct. 1 ceremony.

Gordon Martial Arts offers instruction in Taekwondo, Hapkido, and Combat Jiu Jitsu at its newly renovated studio at 130 Oakdale Ave. W. in Crestview. For details, call 850-862-0720 or visit their website or Facebook pages at www.gordonmartial arts.com, Facebook: facebook.com/GordonMartialArt/. Students age 4 to adult are welcome.