Fifth degree Master Ola LeBlanc, at centre, works with two of his junior Taekwondo students at a recent Monday evening training session at the Port Elgin fire hall. LeBlanc, who has been studying Olympic style Taekwondo for almost 30 years, as been holding twice-weekly training sessions in the village for the past 18 years. LEBLANC PHOTO
PORT ELGIN, NB – Enhancing life through the training of the body and the mind is the basis of Taekwondo. Master Ola LeBlanc has been practicing this discipline for almost 30 years; since 1993 he’s been instructing youths and adults at twice-weekly training sessions in Port Elgin.
“Taekwondo is a martial art that teaches more than physical fighting skills….it enhances our spirit and life through training of the body and mind…it’s the scientific use of the body in learning methods of self-defence; but it’s far more reaching than that,” LeBlanc, who lives in Portage, near Cap Pelé said recently.
He explained that total concentration is used to help the body maintain a state of calmness and awareness.
“This allows us to be able to remain calm and free of stress, to be able to handle situations more effectively, without the use of physical aggression,” he said.
The goal of Taekwondo is to achieve harmony with nature and with oneself; to gain balance between good and evil (Um and Yang). LeBlanc noted that taekwondo is an effective sport particularly for youths at risk.
“It not only gives them something to focus on, it teaches them to respect others; to use their training to enable them to deal with situations which might otherwise end on a negative note instead of a positive one,” he said.
First conceived in the 1950s through a renewed interest in an ancient Korean form of self-defence known as Taekkyon. Since that time it has attracted much interest; indeed more than 80 million people of all ages now practice the art of Taekwondo. It was introduced in Canada for the first time by ninth degree Grand Master Chong Soo Lee in 1964; and brought to New Brunswick by Master Won Kap Chung in the late 1970s.
LeBlanc first became interested in Taekwondo in 1985 and for the next 12 years studied under Moncton Taekwondo master (now a Grand Master) Won Kap Chung, followed by nine years under Chong Soo Lee. Currently he studies with Master Allie Vaughan, who is the current president of Taekwondo New Brunswick.
Each Taekwondo student undergoes testing at various levels of their training.
“Our training never ends; we’re always training to achieve a higher level of skill and control. I first started in karate in 1975, that’s what peaked my interest in martial arts…but Taekwondo is so electric, so stimulating...I liked the nice kicks (included in Taekwondo) and you start sparring right away when you’re a white belt…these things just sparked my interest,” he said.
LeBlanc began teaching his own classes in Taekwondo in 1993, holding twice-weekly classes in both Cap Pelé and Port Elgin. Several years ago he scaled back to just the Port Elgin classes as his students began to move further away to attend more training in the larger centers. Some students have progressed to higher levels and many have participated in provincial competitions over the years. He follows the World Taekwondo Federation style of learning, which has been included in Olympic sports.
LeBlanc also credits his good relationship with the Village of Port Elgin for supporting the Taekwondo program.
“The village has always been very supportive of our program; they’re very fair with the rental fees so I’m able to pass that on to my students. I don’t do this to make money, Taekwondo is a big part of my life and I enjoy working with youths – and adults too – to increase their enjoyment of it,” he added.
LeBlanc noted that Taekwondo employs solid principles including being loyal to your country, obedient to your parents, trustworthy to your friends.
“During each training session we reinforce the importance keeping the tenets of Taekwondo and to maintain the principles of showing respect to your instructors and to seniors; to never misuse Taekwondo; to be a champion of freedom and justice and to strive to build a more peaceful world. And I lead my students by example….it’s really a common sense approach to everything in life,” he said.
LeBlanc suggests that those persons of all ages who might be interested in Taekwondo and what it is all about should visit any of his training sessions, at no cost. The Port Elgin Taekwondo program is held on the second floor of the Port Elgin village office, 41 East Main Street, each Monday and Thursday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Training is very flexible, he notes, as he accommodates participants’ work and school schedules.
“Generally the junior level trains from 6:30 – 7:30 and adults after that, but sometimes parents are training with their children at the same time and that also works well,” he said.
For more information on Taekwondo training LeBlanc can be contacted at his home at 506-577-6254; on his cell at 506-533-4442 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.