Shoulders Earns Black Belt

shoulders black belt

Zachary Shoulders, 11, of Olney, a student at Olney Taekwondo Center (OTC), received a promotion to 1st degree black belt during a special ceremony at the school Sept. 4. He becomes the 12th OTC student to receive this distinguished rank.

Shoulders is a student at East Richland Middle School, and is active in multiple sports, including baseball, swimming, and soccer.

The promotions ceremony, dubbed the Traditional Black Belt Soap and Candle Ceremony, stands as an American Taekwondo Association (ATA) tradition started by its late founder, Grand Master H. U. Lee.

During the ceremony, black belt candidates are presented two gifts by their instructor: a bar of soap and a candle. Both gifts symbolize the sacrifice of the taekwondo instructor for his students: the soap sacrifices itself to clean the body, just as the instructor sacrifices himself to train the student. Likewise, the candle sacrifices itself to provide illumination, just as the instructor does for his students.

Black belt candidates, upon receiving their new rank, lights their candle from the instructor’s candle to symbolize the passing of knowledge. The new black belts then become sources of light and knowledge themselves.

This tradition began after Grand Master Lee was given similar gifts by his own instructor when he left Korea in 1964.

As Olney’s only dedicated martial arts training facility, OTC strives to provide quality martial arts instruction by blending traditional values with modern training techniques. All of OTC’s instructors have met the ATA’s stringent instructor certification requirements and teach a nationally-standardized curriculum. OTC is located at 233 E. Main St., across from Arcadia Cinemas, and can be reached at 392-3800 or

With over 300,000 members training at over 1,500 schools and clubs worldwide, the ATA has established itself as one of the largest and most respected martial arts organizations in the world. Known for its professionalism, the ATA teaches traditional taekwondo, a Korean martial art known for its powerful and dynamic kicking techniques.


Posted on September 28, 2009, in press release. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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