I first saw Dale Copeland in action at her testing for 1st Dan black belt when she was 60 years old. What an inspiration. I’ve never seen someone with so much determination and dedication to Taekwon-Do before. Dale just oozes Spirit! (and not just in Taekwon-Do)
Dale recently achieved her 4th Dan Black Belt… at age 68!
There are two stories here.. A brief one from Dale herself, and then an article that appeared in a local community newspaper in Taranaki, New Zealand
In Dale’s words:
I started Taekwon-Do at age 56 … our daughter was too young to drive and I thought all girls should learn some self-defence, so twice a week I drove us around the coast to a small club. And LOVED it.
My daughter left for university but I kept going, training at the Taranaki Taekwon-Do club in New Plymouth. Got my black belt at age 60. I was in Paris checking emails 3 times a day, waiting to hear if I’d passed. When I got the news I was the happiest and proudest person in that whole city, floating along the boulevards.
I kept training, grateful to belong to a strong club which honours all its members. I go to club training twice a week and Black Belt training in the weekend, never missing a session unless I’m out of the country.
I gained my 4th Dan last year, a few days before my 68th birthday.
I’m the most fortunate person in the world, to have discovered this martial art and this club.
From The Okato Monthly
– Republished with permission.
Dale Copeland, Taekwon-Do exponent, earns her Black Belt, 4th Dan
Taekwon-Do is one of the most systematic and scientific of the traditional martial arts. Its predecessor, Taekyon, was developing in Korea throughout its 5000-year history, initially as a way of training body and mind, but the movements and patterns that make up Taekwon-Do were devised by General Choi Hong Hi while he was a prisoner during World War II.
The discipline shares some features with other Oriental martial arts and has gained something from the styles practised in the countries surrounding Korea, but the philosophy and symbolism of Taekwon-Do are unique. It has become a means of self-defence, a philosophy for living and a way of life.
Back in 1999, however, Dale Copeland simply believed that her daughter needed some self-defence skills. Because Toby was too young at that time to drive herself to a place where she could get them, Dale began driving her twice a week to Oakura, where Mr Murray Smith was running an International Taekwon-Do club.
Not one to waste time or an opportunity, and recognising furthermore that “everyone needs a group of friends and people with whom to share a common interest,” Dale joined too. Under Murray’s tutelage, she and Toby gained their yellow belts and when the club closed down they travelled further, to the Taranaki Taekwon-Do Club in New Plymouth. Toby has long since moved away from home but Dale has been practising Taekwon-Do for twelve years now.
Fellow club member and newly promoted 5th Dan Kirsten Livingstone says, “I have never met anyone who is so fanatical, and who has embraced the ‘Art’ of Taekwon-Do with such a passion,” adding that Dale demonstrates all five tenets of Taekwon-Do – courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit.
These are the attributes that have facilitated Dale’s rise through the ranks to a position more elevated than she would ever have dreamed of. During the week-end of 28/29 August, she was put through her paces to prove her worthiness to be promoted to Black Belt 4th Dan.
Over months, she had worked on her strength and fitness – sprinting, doing press-ups and squat kicks three or four times a week, and doing gym work twice a week. She had practised her moves and learned four new sequences, though only three were required. “One of them has 68 moves,” boasts Dale. “That’s a lot of learning!” And to achieve an additional requirement at this level, she had written a 153 page thesis, which analyses Taekwon-Do’s 24 patterns or tul.
Dale’s formal, practical assessment, which took place at the end of a two day long Master class, was in front of a panel of International Taekwon-Do Federation judges, including an Australian 8th Dan master.
A sizeable audience of Taekwon-Do exponents and others looked on as she put on an impressive display of patterned sequences and techniques, self defence, sparring, and board breaking. And so Dale, a few days before her 68th birthday, earned her Black Belt 4th Dan certificate, the stripes that are the distinguishing mark of her seniority, “Life Time Membership of Worldwide Taekwon-Do” and even more kudos amongst her peers.
I ask Dale, “Where to Next?” “I don’t look to the future,” she replies.”I just want to keep training and learning and moving upwards for as long as I can.”
Which is just as I would expect!