Tae kwon do classes can lead to Olympic glory

Cayman Islands residents have plenty of combat sports available to them and now they can learn tae kwon do, among the world’s most popular martial arts. 

K-FIT TKD recently opened in George Town, just off Shedden Road, behind the Eucalyptus Plaza, near the Cotton Club. 

It is run by chief instructor Master Steve Graham, a 7th degree black belt in various styles of tae kwon do and Korean karate. 

Graham, a former British and European champion, trained with Grand Master Hock Lye Ooi, the founder of Ooi’s Tae kwon do. 

At K-FIT TKD, Graham is assisted by other black belts with a cumulative instructional experience that exceeds 140 years. 

“Whatever the reason for beginning your practice of tae kwon do, whether it is to have fun while learning a new activity or striving to stand on a podium holding an Olympic medal, expert instruction is a must,” said Graham. 

Cayman has a wealth of young athletes, and it is this reservoir of talent that K-FIT TKD hopes to embrace and nurture. Producing Olympic or world champions from the Cayman Islands, in combat or forms competitions, is the objective of the instructional team. 

The fact that tae kwon do is one of few martial arts with full Olympic accreditation, through the World Taekwondo Federation, is significant, instructors say. 

The Cayman Islands holds full membership of the world federation, enabling qualified athletes to participate in numerous competitions around the world, including the Olympics, Pan American, world, Commonwealth and Paralympic championships. 

Recent visits were made here by Master Jean Lopez, trainer of the U.S. Olympic team, and Master Rick Shin, executive director of the Pan American TKD Union. 

Additionally, through Master David Lieder, the Cayman Islands has an international referee representing it at most international tournaments, including the current Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada. 

More than 100 tae kwon do athletes throughout North, Central and South Americas as well as the Caribbean competed in this World Taekwondo Federation ranking event, earning points in pursuit of their 2016 Olympic dreams. 

“It was an honor to be selected among only 17 WTF international referees for this prestigious event,” Lieder said. “I was very pleased to represent the Cayman Islands at this event as well as the many other championships that I travel around the globe for. 

“My goal is to bring awareness to Cayman residents that there is taekwondo on the islands and it is an Olympic sport.” 

Small classes, an excellent instructor-to-student ratio, regular local testing and the opportunity to participate in international competitions, differentiate K-FIT TKD from other martial arts programs in the Cayman Islands, said Graham. 

Classes, which are run six days a week, are open to children in the afternoons from Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings. 

Adult classes generally run between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and individuals of all levels of experience are welcome to participate. 

David Leider refereeing at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada this week.
David Leider refereeing at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada this week.