March 7, 2023

TAO Canada’s newest Master is 7th Dan Master Rudy Johnson.  Master Johnson was promoted over the weekend of March 4th and 5th in the UK by FGMR.  In attendance were GM Cutler and GM O’Neil.  Congratulations Master Johnson!

January 29, 2023

On the weekend of January 27th-29th, 100 red belt and black belt students, Instructors and Masters from across Canada attended the first Annual Technical Conference and AGM since 2020.  The AGM was held on Friday evening with members of the Board of Directors and school owners in attendance.  During the technical conference all 24 patterns were covered as well as 3-step and 1-step sparring.  Keeping true to the teachings of the founder of Taekwon-Do, General Choi Hong Hi, the students and Instructors were drilled on correct sine wave and the proper application of techniques.  By the end of the 12 hour training, everyone was exhausted but motivated in their efforts to keep Chang Hun Taekwon-Do alive in its purist form.

December 29, 2022

The students of Yong GI Taekwon-Do School collected over 220 pairs of new winter socks in support of Covenant House!

Covenant House are there for young people when they need a caring hand most.  Even though we are strangers to them we do it to let them know, in spirit at least, they are not alone.  In 2023 we will find ways to get stronger and therefore give more.  No matter how much we give, it will not be enough.

December 14, 2022

On Wednesday, December 14th, Morningstar Taekwon-Do hosted their annual Christmas Demonstration and Food Drive.  Proceeds benefitted the Fareshare Food Bank of Oakville. It was a fabulous turnout with over 200 people on hand to see the black belt demo team!

December 3, 2022

On Saturday, December 3rd, four students from Oakridge Taekwon-Do graded for II Dan. Congratulations to all those who were successful in their quest for higher ranks!

November 12, 2022

On Saturday, November 12th, three students from Lightning Taekwon-Do graded for I Dan.  Congratulations to all those who were successful in their quest for higher ranks!

October 22, 2022

On Saturday, October 22, Oakridge Taekwon-Do hosted their 13th annual Technical Seminar at Fanshawe College. Over 60 instructors and students were in attendance from London, Oakville, Scarborough and Ottawa. Conducted by ITF-TAO Technical Director, Mr. Mike Morningstar, the seminar began with an intensive warm-up and moved right into basic movements, patterns and kicking drills. The training was 5 hours in length; the first 3 hours for colour belts and the last 2 hours for black belts.

August 27, 2022

On Saturday, August 27th, Yong-Gi Taekwon-Do School hosted their annual Potluck Picnic.  With food, entertainment and a lot of fun, it was a great success!

Yong-Gi Taekwon-Do School spent many classes at this exact park location in the summer heat and the winter snow, training through the shutdown.  They came back to the same place – this time to celebrate – together.  They couldn’t have asked for a better evening!

July 1, 2022

On Friday, July 1st, Morningstar Taekwon-Do put on their Canada Day Demo at Coronation Park.  For those who weathered the weather – it was a fantastic day!

June 8, 2022

On Wednesday, June 8th, Morningstar Taekwon-Do hosted their first demonstration night in two and a half years!!!  Originally scheduled for December 2021, but ultimately postponed due to government restrictions put in place to curb the spread of Covid, they were still able to put together a sizeable donation for the Fare Share Food Bank of Oakville.  This donation was made to the food bank last December with the promise of the demonstration to come as soon as restrictions eased.  By all accounts, the demonstration was a resounding success and everyone is looking forward to the annual Christmas demo 2022.

June 4, 2022

On Saturday, June 4th, Morningstar Taekwon-Do hosted their annual Technical Seminar at Sheridan College in Oakville – their first since 2018!  Approximately 100 Instructors and students from Morningstar Taekwon-Do in Oakville, Oakridge Taekwon-Do in London and Yong Gi Taekwon-Do in Toronto were in attendance.  Conducted by ITF-TAO Technical Director, Mr. Mike Morningstar, and under the watchful eye of Mr. Rudy Johnson, ITF-TAO President, the seminar began with an intensive warm-up and moved right into basic movements, patterns and kicking drills.  The training was 5 hours in length; the first 3 hours for all belts and the last 2 hours specifically for black belts.  Everyone agreed, it felt good to be back!!!

May 14, 2022

On Saturday, May 14th, Lightning Taekwon-Do hosted a Technical Seminar in Lethbridge, Alberta.  In their own words, “thank you to our guest instructor, Mr. Morningstar, Technical Director, from Oakville and our Calgary family, Lightning ITF Mrs. Gardner Volk and Mr. Volk, for coming to train with us.  We had a super great time training and sweating together again!”

August 16, 2021

On July 31, 2021, Lightning ITF Taekwon-Do in Calgary, Alberta had the honour of hosting their first advanced belt pattern seminar.  This is something they had been wanting to do since opening the school a year ago, but unfortunately Covid had other plans.  It was amazing to have students from both Mr. Howes’ Cardston Taekwon-Do and Lightning ITF Taekwon-Do attend!

This seminar was intended for anybody of the rank of Blue Belt or higher.  In all, 13 people attended, including Mr. Chris Howes, VI Dan.  Mr. Howes was assisted by Mrs. Sonya Howes, V Dan.

Prior to starting the seminar, two of Mr. and Mrs. Howes’ students (Mr. Tristan Howes and Miss Janya Knight) were promoted to 1st Dan.  After a brisk warm up, participants got right into patterns, starting of course with Saju Jirugi and Saju Makgi.  From there they went through some of the early patterns and finished off with Juche.  The seminar was only three hours long, but Mr. Howes walked them through many patterns to hone their techniques and sharpen their skills.

Covid has prevented them from having regular classes since opening their school but the artists that attended this seminar have all found their own way to stay motivated and work on their skills.  For many, this was a stepping stone for refreshing and reinvigorating their training.  For some, this was a great opportunity to have their mentors, Mr. and Mrs. Howes, check in on their progress as they prepare for future testing.

It was an honour for the instructors of Lightning ITF Taekwon-Do to finally be able to work with Mr. and Mrs. Howes again!  They have come full circle from training directly under the Howes’ to operating their own dojang under them.  It is their intention to do more of these going forward in an effort to grow and spread the art.


August 18, 2020

Getting to Know our Dojangs (8/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

Lightning ITF Taekwon-Do:  Mrs. Keri Gardner-Volk, III Dan

Mrs. Gardner-Volk began Taekwon-Do in 2006, at the age of 31.  Previously, she had been involved in track and field and running, but had recently recovered from a knee injury and wanted to try something different.  She had two good friends who were martial artists and they encouraged her to explore martial arts.  She was fortunate to find Lightning Family Martial Arts and trained under Mr. Chris Howes, VI Dan, until he relocated to Cardston.  Mrs. Gardner-Volk achieved her first degree black belt in June 2011 and her second degree black belt in June 2014.  She completed Mr. Howes’ Assistant Instructor Training Course and received her certification as an assistant instructor in October 2015.  She was able to test for her third degree black belt in December 2018, while training under a fellow student of Mr. Howes.  While training under Mr. Howes, Mrs. Gardner-Volk had the opportunity to attend several competitions in Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as seminars with Mr. Mike Morningstar, First Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha, Grand Master James Lim, and Master Andrew Rhee.  She was fortunate to meet Grand Master C.K. Choi at one of the last competitions that he attended.

Mrs. Gardner-Volk’s husband and co-owner/instructor at Lightning ITF Taekwon-Do is Mr. Cal Volk.  Mr. Volk began training under Mr. Howes in 2010, achieving his first degree black belt in 2013 and his second degree black belt in 2016.  He also completed the Assistant Instructor Training Course with Mr. Howes in 2016.  As they both enjoy teaching, they took the opportunity to take over a space left by another martial arts school in July 2020, with classes commencing in September 2020.  They are very appreciative of the generous assistance from their instructor and mentor, Mr. Chris Howes, who is supporting them in this endeavour.

The Volks are looking forward to this new chapter in their journey as instructors and mentors to others, and hope to continue to improve and develop themselves as martial artists; Mr. Volk plans to test for his III Dan next year, and Mrs. Gardner-Volk hopes to attain the rank of IV Dan with the ongoing guidance and support of Mr. Howes.  Their ultimate goal is to grow their school into a supportive community that provides quality training, instills confidence in their students, and encompasses the essence of Taekwon-Do as a way of life.

August 6, 2020

ITF-TAO Canada would like to welcome Mrs. Keri Gardner-Volk, III dan, and the students of Lightning ITF Taekwon-Do in Calgary, Alberta as our latest member.

Welcome Mrs. Gardner-Volk!


June 28, 2020

Getting to Know our Dojangs (7/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

Dynamic Dragon Taekwon-Do:  Mr. Edward Mercado, IV Dan


At 14 years old, Mr. Edward Mercado, along with his brother, got his first introduction to martial arts when his parents enrolled them in Karate.  This introduction lasted for one year.  Mr. Mercado grew up in Ottawa and, doing what most teenagers do during that time, he became part of a dance crew, spending most of his time polishing breakdancing moves.  It was only when he was 19 years old that he developed a keen interest in martial arts.  He first took up Wing Chun (for about a year) as influenced by his idol, Bruce Lee.  Soon after, he discovered Taekwon-Do by watching tournaments on local television.  This sparked his interest.

In August of 1991, Mr. Mercado joined the Merivale branch of Lu’s Tae Kwon Do in Ottawa.  There he trained under Mr. Maher Burhan for a year.  In 1992, he started training under Mr. Rudy Johnson, who became his principal instructor thereafter.  As a blue belt, Mr. Mercado started assisting the kids’ classes, and was given the task of doing administrative duties.  Mr. Johnson made a tremendous impact with his mentorship to Mr. Mercado, not only in martial arts, but also in his personal life.  Mr. Mercado, to this day, looks up to Mr. Johnson with great respect and admiration.  Their bond goes beyond the four corners of the dojang, as they developed a strong friendship as well.

In September 1994, through hard work and perseverance, Mr. Mercado earned his very sought after I degree black belt under Mr. Lu.

Mr. Mercado competed and participated in local and international, as well as provincial and Canadian championships.  One of his most memorable experiences was in 1996 in the provincial competition when he placed 2ND in patterns and 3rd in sparring.

In May 1997, still training under Mr. Lu, Mr. Mercado earned his II degree black belt.  In 1999, he started a program to teach Taekwon-Do in the City of Ottawa.  In January 2000, Mr. Mercado promoted to his III degree black belt.

For the next 10 years, until 2010, Mr. Mercado devoted his time teaching the principles and techniques of Taekwon-Do.  In August 2010, he relocated to Toronto to be with the love of his life.  He had an unplanned break away from Taekwon-Do for a couple of years as he adjusted to his new life in Toronto.

In November 2015, Mr. Mercado began to train once again by officially joining Jung Park Tae Kwon Do.  When he was younger, he had fond memories watching Grand Master Park’s movie “Search and Destroy”.  Joining GM Park’s school was a dream for him as GM Park was a well-known figure considered as one of the pioneers of Taekwon-Do.  GM Park noticed Mr. Mercado’s extensive experience and asked him to teach at his Scarborough location.

In 2016, Mr. Mercado earned his IV degree black belt certified by GM Park.

Mr. Mercado has always been passionate about his love for Taekwon-Do and for teaching.  He has the enthusiasm to share his knowledge and pass on both essential life skills and mastery of techniques to his students.  He is well-loved and respected by many.  When he was younger, it was always his dream to open up his own school.  With his determination and hard work, Mr. Mercado made his dream come true in September 2019 when he opened Dynamic Dragon Taekwon-Do.  He teaches his students to live by the school motto of “TRAIN HARD, BUILD CHARACTER”.

March 29, 2020

Getting to Know our Dojangs (6/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

Yong GI Taekwon-Do School:  Mr. Jas Taggar, V Dan

Yong GI Taekwon-Do School provides students with an alternative message to some aspects of modern life, such as an excessive reliance on modern comforts, the non-stop distraction of social media, short-sighted materialism and the narrow minded focus on money as the sole form of human currency.  This is done through rigorous, yet respectful, physical training and study.  Since the training of a Taekwon-Do student is by nature challenging, Mr. Taggar’s hope is that the student develops a strong sense of humility after which real learning can start.

As a child living in the U.K., television was very limited.  Mr. Taggar spent his time in physical activity – he often played soccer and cricket morning till night.  That’s where he first learned to kick but, more importantly, learned the importance of teamwork.  The more Mr. Taggar and his friends played together as a group, the more confident they grew as individuals.  As children they debated “who could beat up the other, Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee”.  Mr. Taggar and his family moved to Zimbabwe shortly after independence in 1980 where he played High School Field Hockey and swam daily.  Coming to Canada in 1983 was a culture shock.  Displaced and isolated, he watched Bruce Lee’s movies wishing he could defend himself against the politics of division, hierarchy and segregation as fearlessly as Bruce Lee himself did.

After arriving in Canada, Mr. Taggar and his brother both worked in the summers.  They saved every penny and found a place to train they could actually afford.  From 1983, Mr. Taggar was fortunate to train under a dedicated and very physical instructor in GM Sullivan, and under KI Do Kwan School of Taekwon-Do for 35 years.  He made friends in the early years that he is still in contact with to this day and values greatly.

Over three decades of training Mr. Taggar worked through many very physically tough classes and attended many seminars.  He has performed in a variety of demonstrations and, after attending tournaments at the local and national level as an independent, achieved Gold in Patterns and Silver in Sparring in the GTF Worlds of 2008.

Starting the Yong GI Taekwon-Do School in December 2019 was the most difficult decision Mr. Taggar has ever made in his Martial Arts career.  Often a late bloomer, it was time to take the reins and find his own voice.  It is his hope his current students will one day find it within themselves to also do the same.

Based on his life experiences, Mr. Taggar sees strength in groups – the more diverse the better.  He believes we learn best from one another.  He found the ITF-TAO to be professional, respectful, organized and friendly; the decision to join was compelling.  Mr. Taggar wishes to open the doors of friendship, opportunity and the world at large to the students that wish to take that path.

In his view, the sections of General Choi’s Encyclopedia which focus on Morality and Philosophy are the most important.

Yong GI means courage.  Personally, this next phase of his journey must be Spiritual, i.e. The “Do” of Taekwon-Do.  The school is here to serve as a path, one that ultimately must lead to some form of enlightenment. Yong GI Taekwon-Do school is here solely to use the life-long, challenging training of Taekwon-Do as a sharpened sword to cut through the barrier of false ego.

March 7, 2020

On Saturday, March 7, 2020, students from seven dojangs across Ontario gathered together in Oakville to compete in both patterns and sparring at the ITF-TAO Challenge Friendship Tournament.  Congratulations to Mr. Morningstar and Morningstar Taekwon-Do for hosting such a professional, successful, well-run tournament!  Thanks to all the volunteers, judges, competitors, parents and spectators who supported this fantastic event.

February 1, 2020

On Saturday, February 1, 2020 students from six dojangs across Ontario and one dojang from Newfoundland gathered in London, Ontario for the 1st annual ITF-TAO Canadian Technical Conference.  This inaugural event was hosted by Oakridge Taekwon-Do.  The eight hour training session included patterns from Chon-Ji to Tong-Il, kicking drills, basic movements and physical conditioning.  Looking forward to next year’s event hosted by Morningstar Taekwon-Do in Oakville, Ontario.

January 30, 2020

ITF-TAO Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Rebecca Montaño VI Dan of Montaño Taekwon-Do in Waterdown, Ontario to the position of Canadian Liaison to Special Needs Taekwon-Do International! This special affiliation with SNTI will help us to provide the greatest possible opportunities for all our members by connecting all who are involved with special needs in their dojangs!

Congratulations Ms. Montaño!

December 18, 2019

Morningstar Taekwon-Do in Oakville held their annual Christmas demonstration on Wednesday, December 18th.  Their black belt demonstration team gave a fantastic display of board breaking and brick smashing and various other exciting aspects of Taekwon-Do……with a Holiday Season theme.  All proceeds were donated to the Fare Share food bank of Oakville.

December 17, 2019

Getting to Know our Dojangs (5/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

Montano Taekwon-Do:  Ms. Rebecca Montano, VI Dan

Ms. Montano began training in Taekwon-Do on August 10th, 1985 at Sereff Taekwon-Do in Broomfield, Colorado under Grand Master C. E. Sereff.  She had seen the movie The Karate Kid and asked her Pops if she could do karate. He had trained in ITF Taekwon-Do before she was born and had attained the rank of  5th Gup.  Her Pops figured she wouldn’t care if it was karate or Taekwon-Do, so he took her to Taekwon-Do classes.

Some of Ms. Montano’s accomplishments in Taekwon-Do:

  • received I Dan (A-1-4567) in November of 1991 (tested under GM Sereff)
  • attended the NZITF-ITF World Taekwon-Do Camp in New Zealand with Master Paul McPhail (January 1992)
  • attended three USTF-ITF World Taekwon-Do Camps in Grand Lake, Colorado with GM Sereff (1993 camp included a two-day seminar taught by General Choi)
  • after moving in 1998, received IV Dan (A-4-385) in March 1999 (Albuquerque, NM under Mr. Charlie McGinnis VI Dan)
  • became Mr. McGinnis’ assistant instructor
  • General Choi’s Cup (2000): Gold in IV Dan Patterns (and last time competing with her father, who retired after this championship)
  • USTF-ITF National Champion IV Dan Women’s Patterns (qualified for worlds)
  • three International Instructors’ Courses with General Choi Hong Hi (including his final course in Denver on April 8th, 2002)
  • competed in the World Championships (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, October 2003), losing to Master Alvin Bernard in the men’s category
  • USA National Champion IV Dan Womens Patterns (Jacksonville, Florida, 2004)
  • bronze medallist in Women’s IV Dan Patterns (ITF XIII World Championships, Daejeon, South Korea in October 2004)
  • silver medallist in IV Dan Women’s Patterns in final competition (Can-Ams in Oakville, ON on June 4th, 2005)
  • received V Dan on July 25th, 2005 (Odessa, Texas)
  • received Class A Umpire certification (under Mr. Kurt Ottenson on March 16th, 2007)
  • attended events with FGMR, including a Grand Master Class in 2015 and IIC’s in 2016, 2017, and 2018
  • attended the first ITF-TAO International Instructors’ Course in November 2019
  • received VI Dan on November 10th, 2019
  • coach of New Mexico Jr. Team
  • attended seminars with Masters from the US, including Master Akard, Master Mitchell, Master Hups, Master Nunez, and many more
  • 14+ technical seminars with Mr. Mike Morningstar.

Ms. Montano opened her dojang on September 12th, 2017 at the Flamborough YMCA.  She began with 11 students across two family classes and now has 47 students and teaches seven classes each week.  These classes include advanced and beginner family classes, individual classes, and hamster classes (for 4-6 year olds).  Ms. Montano was inspired to open her dojang by her first instructor GM Sereff, who maintained that he did not want his students to buy him gifts, but rather that the greatest gift he could receive was to have them train a student of their own from white belt to I Dan.  In addition, when Ms. Montano’s Pops passed away in 2015, she realized the experiences they shared together – travelling the world training, competing, testing, and attending seminars, classes, and camps.  As a mother, she also took notice of all of the activities that required parents to watch their kids (including swimming, hockey, and soccer).  The opportunity to open at the YMCA allowed Ms. Montano to share with families the experiences that she had and allowed her to begin a family class where children 7+ AND their parents came to class together.

One of Ms. Montano’s greatest memories or achievements in Taekwon-Do is when she organized a patterns demonstration for her Pops when he entered hospice. The following is a link to more information on that event: https://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/10/11/taekwondo-master-with-terminal-cancer-honored-by-his-beloved-students/.  Other great achievements of Ms. Montano include watching her sons wearing their uniforms for the first time (as 3rd generation ITF) and watching her students compete for the first time.

Going forward, Ms. Montano would like to keep growing her school and offer more classes for individuals, as well as continuing her family classes.  As her classes draw many families with high needs children, she wants to continue to nurture that.  High needs children often have difficulty with traditional sports and activities, even when they are very high functioning.  The social interactions and expectations lead to increased anxiety, and the child does not want to return.  It is stressful for the parents as they want to provide these opportunities for their kids, but the neurotypical norm doesn’t work for them, leaving the parents with a more overwhelmed and anxious child even though the idea was to provide the opposite.  Ms. Montano’s family class allows these children to come to class with their parents, providing them a sense of comfort, and giving them the opportunity to see if they enjoy Taekwon-Do.  Ms. Montano often sees children who were unable to leave their parent’s side and unable to interact with a partner now coming to multiple classes per week and partnering with other children their own age.  The parents in these scenarios are often stressed and unable to attend activities for themselves, until they begin coming to Taekwon-Do as a family.  An additional benefit that Ms. Montano did not expect is that Taekwon-Do provides a new way for these parents and children to communicate, especially through the use of understanding the first tenet of Taekwon-Do – courtesy.  Courtesy becomes pervasive to their lives, and can be applied as a means of communication outside of Taekwon-Do as well.

Ms. Montano is passionate about continuing to teach the art that she loves, promoting the tenets of Taekwon-Do, and helping families to incorporate them into their lives.  Ms. Montano is honoured to be able to provide families with the opportunities that she had growing up.

Thank you Ms. Montano for taking the time to share your story with us!

Check us out next month for the next instalment in this series!

December 7, 2019

On December 7th Johnson’s Taekwon Do in Ottawa held their 12th annual dinner demonstration in support of the TAO program.

The TAO Program (Tenacity-Attitude-Optimism) promotes service to the community through subsidizing the participation of low-income families and youth at risk in their learning of traditional Taekwon-Do.  Over the years, 30 families have been given an opportunity to participate in Taekwon-Do classes.

This event was well attended by over 165 members of the community as well as the local councilor. The demonstration was created entirely by the students and the event was enjoyed by all.

November 21, 2019

Getting to Know our Dojangs (4/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

Cardston Taekwon-Do:  Mr. Chris Howes, VI Dan

Mr. Howes’ very first Taekwon-Do class was in 1979 at the age of eight years old.  He was always intrigued by martial arts movies and movie stars, including Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.  This interest is what drew Mr. Howes to Taekwon-Do.

One of Mr. Howes’ accomplishments in Taekwon-Do was being the personal assistant to and direct student of Master Choi Jung Hwa (son of the founder) from 2001-2006.  He attended to Master Choi Jung Hwa as his personal and technical assistant at seminars in:

⁃Moscow, Russia,

⁃Brussels, Belgium,

⁃Bochum, Germany,

⁃Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 

⁃Buenos Aires, Argentina, 

and multiple times throughout Canada at International Instructor Seminars and Master Classes.  Mr. Howes has attended numerous seminars conducted by General Choi Hong Hi (the founder of Taekwon-Do) all over North America.

Mr. Howes achieved his 4th Degree Black Belt from Master Choi Jung Hwa. To receive his IV Dan from the son of the founder was a tremendous honour.  Mr. Howes was promoted to VI Dan by Master James Lim in 2015.  Master Lim is a second generation ITF Grandmaster and a direct lineage to Grandmaster CK Choi.

Mr. Howes’ coaching achievements include:

⁃2004: Daejon, South Korea Senior and Junior World Championships – Head Coach and Chief of Delegation Canada

⁃2006: Geelong, Australia Junior World Championships – Head Coach and Chief of Delegation Canada

⁃2007: Rio del Garda, Italy ITF World Cup – Head Coach Western Team.

Mr. Howes opened his first dojang in 1998 in Calgary – Lightning Family Martial Arts (LFMA) – a large retail-based school which he ran for 18 years.  LFMA began as a community centre-based program with eight locations throughout Calgary.  These were eventually amalgamated into one when the retail studio was opened.  Mr. Howes began with just eight students and eventually exceeded 300 students over the 18 year span.  He wanted to have his own martial arts school ever since he walked into Grand Master Park Jong Soo’s dojang on Young and Bloor in Toronto – it was an amazing place with two floors and a long staircase up where you could see pictures of GM Park along with Bruce Lee, Joon Rhee, and other famous martial artists.  It also had a huge training floor, weight room, and martial arts supplies – it was amazing.  Prior to opening his own dojang in 1998, Mr. Howes was working with other instructors running programs and instructing in various dojangs.

Currently, Mr. Howes is running a smaller dojang in Cardston, Alberta with around 30 students in the Taekwon-Do program and another 25 in the fitness aerobics program.  There is also a second location in the works.

Mr. Howes’ goal is to continue to push himself to be an example to others, as well as build and develop his dojang and his students.  Mr. Howes also wants to continue to teach and learn Traditional Taekwon-Do as General Choi intended.

Thank you Mr. Howes for taking the time to share your story with us!

Check us out next month for the next instalment in this series!

November 9, 2019

ITF-TAO held an International Instructor Training Course in Oakville, Ontario during the weekend of November 8-10 on what would have been the 101st birthday of the Founder.  Instructors from five countries were in attendance – Canada, USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Argentina.  Topics such as how to conduct a proper warm up, how to teach a beginner the first class, how to motivate and encourage students as well as Sambo Matsogi, Ilbo Matsogi, Hosinsul, Umpire Rules and Procedures and of course all 24 Tuls were covered.  Keeping true to the Original Teachings of General Choi Hong Hi, the Training Secrets and Theory of Power were explained in detail.

There was also a promotion test following the International Instructors Course.  Congratulations to Ms. Rebecca Montano on her promotion to VI Dan!

November 5, 2019

ITF-TAO Canada would like to welcome Mr. Jas Taggar, V dan, and the students of Yong GI Taekwon-Do School in Toronto, Ontario as our latest member.

Welcome Mr. Taggar!

November 1, 2019

ITF-TAO Canada would like to welcome Mr. Edward Mercado and the students of Dynamic Dragon Taekwon-Do in Scarborough, Ontario as our latest member.  Mr. Mercado is an ITF certified 4th dan black belt.

Welcome Mr. Mercado!

October 25, 2019

……news from the ITF-TAO Tournament/Umpire Director

October 15, 2019

Getting to Know our Dojangs (3/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

Johnson’s Taekwon-Do:  Mr. Rudy Johnson, VI Dan

After graduating from university in 1980, Mr. Johnson relocated from eastern Canada to the west – Calgary, Alberta.  It was there, in May of that year, that Mr. Johnson stumbled across a Taekwon-Do school.  It was owned and operated by now Grand Master J.J. Lee.  At that time it was advertised as Korean Karate.  Mr. Johnson had stumbled across the very thing he had been searching for in his long pursuit of learning a martial art.  Korean Karate was mysterious to him.  He was drawn by its purported power and dynamism.  It would be a logical fit for him as a child of the 1960s – influenced by TV characters such as Mrs. Peel of the Avengers and Kato (Bruce Lee) of Green Hornet fame.  The latter came into full force during the 1970s.  Mr. Johnson researched and practised briefly in Judo (informally) and Karate but was never able to do so with any consistency.  He saw the martial arts as necessary to maintain a defensive edge while growing up amidst racial violence and other challenges on the streets.  JJ Lee welcomed Mr. Johnson and started him on his Taekwon-Do journey which has endured for some 40 years now as student and instructor.

By fall of 1981, Mr. Johnson decided to return to university to pursue further education – which took him to Victoria, B.C.  It was there Mr. Johnson met and trained under T.S. Kwon – coincidentally an earlier student of JJ Lee.  He would train and grade between Calgary and Victoria until 1986 when his education took him to Ottawa, Ontario.  Mr. Johnson received the rank of 1st Degree in November 1984.  He started assisting Mr. Kwon at his main location and at a private school in Courtney, British Columbia on Vancouver Island.  He would also complete his Master of Public Administration during this time.

Mr. Johnson moved to Ottawa in January 1986 with the intention of returning to Victoria following completion of his work terms.  It was in Ottawa that Mr. Johnson came into contact and trained briefly with Master Park Dong So.  His dojang soon transitioned to his student Phap Lu (now Grand Master).  Mr. Johnson would go on to instruct at one of Mr. Lu’s branch schools – eventually owning and operating that location.  It was during this period that Mr. Johnson met General Choi Hong Hi.

Since Mr. Johnson had trained and graded in the Chung Do Kwan system, he felt it was important to continue – at least for grading; but Lu’s training was vastly different than what he knew and certainly others saw the difference in how Mr. Johnson did TKD.  Mr. Johnson sought out Grand Master Park Jong Soo in preparation for his 2nd Degree – given his acclaim and relationship with Mr. Johnson’s instructors.  Realizing Mr. Johnson wasn’t returning to the west coast, he graded for 2nd Degree under GM Park Jong Soo – who guided him on how to improve his Taekwon-Do.

Since Mr. Johnson was moving around during this period, he always considered his home dojangs and instructors to be Grand Master Lee and T.S. Kwon.  His instructors in eastern Canada would likely have formed the same impression.  Though well received wherever Mr. Johnson trained, this perception had the effect of making him an outsider to other school systems. This would affect grading prospects; but as Mr. Johnson was never a student in pursuit of rank – it didn’t matter.

Attainment of Ranks

1984 – Promoted to 1st Degree

1988 – Promoted to 2nd Degree

1992 – Promoted to 3rd Degree

1995 – Promoted to 4th Degree

2009 – Promoted to 5th Degree

2016 – Promoted to 6th Degree

Taekwon-Do Career Highlights

  • Being selected while a yellow belt to participate in JJ Lee’s Calgary Stampede demonstration which ran for 10 evenings on the main stage.  Mr. Johnson was allowed to perform Toi Gye with the group and observe the level of expertise of Master Lee and his black belts.
  • Represented Kwon’s Taekwon-Do School at WTF Canadian National Team Trials in 1981.
  • Leading Kwon’s demonstration team.
  • Competed in Master Park Jong Soo’s Canadian National Exhibition annual Open Tournament.
  • Graded for 4th Degree by General Choi.
  • Given the responsibility of school ownership/head instructor.
  • Graded for 6th Degree by FGMR.
  • A founding member of ITF-TAO.
  • President of ITF-TAO.


Mr. Johnson was not destined to compete in many tournaments.  His decision to return to university meant that he had to limit his Taekwon-Do involvement to training and assistant instructing.  Mr. Johnson’s university studies were his primary focus.  That said, he was keen and proud to represent Kwon’s Taekwon-Do School at the 1981 WTF Canadian National Team Trials.  Although unsuccessful, Mr. Johnson and the team did well against their WTF competitors.  Another practical reason for not having competed much was that they were not affiliated with a National or International organization.  Mr. Johnson remained unaffiliated until his move to eastern Canada.  By that time, he was attentive to career and starting a family.  Pursuing competitions wasn’t practical at this stage of his life.  More importantly to him, he was not at the top of his “training game” – a requirement to compete in his mind.  Throughout, he was continually encouraged to compete by those who observed his techniques.  Mr. Johnson did participate several times in Grand Master Park Jong Soo’s annual Open Tournament at the Canadian National Exhibition.

Mr. Johnson has been asked over the years about his competition achievements.  This seems to Mr. Johnson to be the measure of Taekwon-Do practitioners.  Although he has a strong love of sparring and has won and performed well at various levels, he was not keen to and has no acclaim at international events, having never participated.  As an aside, Mr. Johnson grew to feel that the proliferation of competition evident in eastern Canada diminished Taekwon-Do (as he appreciated it) despite the many excellent practitioners.


At Johnson’s Taekwon-Do school, Mr. Johnson aims to keep alive that which was given to him by his Chung Do Kwan instructors and the larger gift from Chang Hun (General Choi Hong Hi).  Generally speaking, the politics of ITF Taekwon-Do kept his instructors as independents though they always maintained the highest regard for the Founder and what he accomplished.

Through Grand Master JJ Lee and T.S. Kwon, Mr. Johnson became accustomed to the etiquette, style, teaching and techniques of Chung Do Kwan.  They held strong to ceremony.  Cleanliness and punctuality were strictly observed.  Mr. Johnson trained as often as his schedule would permit – which meant every day (Monday to Saturday) sometimes twice per day and almost always after classes.  A benefit of having to change dojangs and systems allowed for the adoption of methods and techniques; although Mr. Johnson has always been cautious of drifting from his core which has always served him well.

Core Beliefs

Mr. Johnson started teaching Taekwon-Do with one goal in mind:  to ensure that any student in front of him and proclaiming to be learning Taekwon-Do, is learning traditional Taekwon-Do.  Owning and operating a school was never in Mr. Johnson’s plans.  He was asked to help Grand Master Phap Lu with one of his locations.  Mr. Johnson agreed to a limited teaching commitment.  This morphed into ownership.  With that, Mr. Johnson also committed to not allowing lack of money to prevent a student from training.  He continues to hold true to those ideals.  He is pleased that his students have also taken the same approach.  Mr. Johnson supported Mr. Hanna as he founded and spearheaded their TAO program.  The TAO program (Tenacity-Attitude-Optimism) promotes service to the community through subsidizing the participation of low-income families and youth at risk in their learning of traditional Taekwon-Do.  While serving as President, ITF-TAO, Mr. Johnson looks forward to exploring ways we can help the membership strengthen a commitment to elevating the practice and maintenance of the Traditional, Authentic and Original Taekwon-Do bestowed to us by General Choi Hong Hi.

Thank you Mr. Johnson for taking the time to share your story with us!

Check us out next month for the next instalment in this series!

October 5, 2019

Congratulations to Master Alvey and 88 Dragons Martial Arts for a very well run, successful Friendship Tournament!  The day began with a series of demonstrations from Master Hance and the students of Taekwon-Do Maximus and Mr. Morningstar from Morningstar Taekwon-Do.   Over 110 competitors from six dojangs competed in both patterns and sparring.  Thanks to all the volunteers, judges, competitors, parents and spectators who supported this fantastic event!

June 1, 2019

On Saturday June 1st, competitors from across Canada and the USA gathered in St. John’s, Newfoundland for what turned out to be a fantastic day of high level competition. Congratulations to Mr. Rick Winsor and the organizing committee from Cabot Taekwon-Do for hosting a very professional and well organised event.

Around 170 registered competitors representing 10 TAO schools were greeted by several beautiful Newfoundland pups on their arrival at the venue.  This year’s special guest was from Japan, technical committee member Mr. Taizo Sugaya.  The tournament was highlighted by a fiercely competitive black belt division and, for the first time in many years, an all Canada final.  Team Ontario took the gold medal in the team competition.  All in all a great event!

May 29, 2019

Getting to Know our Dojangs (2/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

88 Dragons Martial Arts:  Master Dennis Alvey, VII Dan

Master Alvey first started training Taekwon-Do in December of 1985 with, now Grand Master, Cleveland Bryan.

Master Alvey was initially interested in Taekwon-Do while still in high school.  He wasn’t a very confident teenager, so when he called the local Taekwon-Do school to ask about classes and the Master shouted at him on the phone, he hung up immediately and wouldn’t enquire for another five years.  That was Master Lee Sukhi, who turned out to be his first instructor’s Master.  Master Alvey spent a year in the Canadian Armed forces when he was 18.  After he was released from the military, he felt the need to get involved in an activity where he would be able to maintain the high level of fitness he had previously achieved.  He was also seeking a sport where he could further develop his new found self confidence and self discipline.  Taekwon-Do was the perfect fit.

Some of Master Alvey’s greatest achievements in Taekwon-Do have always been helping his students become stronger physically and mentally.  He also had the privilege to host and organize the final IIC to be held in Canada by General Choi.  It was a huge honour for Master Alvey to spend quality time with the General.  Master Alvey has won many awards over the years through competition, primarily in sparring.  Winning the Canadian National Championship at red belt in 1986 was his most memorable victory as he was in the best physical condition of his life and the competition was fierce.  However, as he grows older and he views Taekwon-Do in a different light, past victories are forgotten whereas nurturing his students is in the forefront of his mind.

In 1991 Master Alvey opened his first dojang in Vancouver to help supplement his income while he was attending college.  It was a small school where he taught primarily friends and friends of friends.  Master Alvey shared this studio with a dance instructor. This studio was short lived however as the time required was starting to have a negative impact on his grades. He chose to close the school and focus on his education.

A few years later, while still in Vancouver, Master Alvey worked in partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department where he taught at three community centres.

Master Alvey was having fairly good success there so he decided to open a private location and invite all his students to train at one central dojang.  It was then called Chon-Ji Taekwon-Do.  At its peak, Chon-Ji Taekwon-Do had close to 100 students.  Master Alvey would eventually sell that location to one of his students and relocate back to Ontario after living on the West Coast for 16 years.  Since being back in Hamilton Master Alvey has taught out of four locations. He started out in a small studio but due to growth he moved twice to larger locations.  He did close for ten months because of a health issue and thought he actually might retire from teaching.  But, Taekwon-Do being so important to him, retirement didn’t last long.  He reopened three years ago at his current location.

Master Alvey believes his greatest accomplishment has been to continue training and teaching following two serious motorcycle accidents and a major illness.  Through perseverance and indomitable spirit, Taekwon-Do has kept him healthy and given him a positive mind. The inner strength which he has gained through training has allowed him to stand up to and oppose injustice.  For ten years Master Alvey was a full-time anti-nuclear, wilderness, wildlife and ocean activist.  He participated in and organized campaigns where he risked imprisonment and physical retribution. However, as a black belt holder, Master Alvey never feared for his safety and this confidence allowed him to achieve great things.

Going forward, Master Alvey intends to continually grow his school and continue to help as many people as possible through the martial arts.  He would like to see TAO increase its membership while still following the same path of integrity and high standards it has been on since it began.  Master Alvey believes TAO has a great group of Masters, Instructors and students who are following General Choi’s original teachings. From what he has seen, the organization stands alone in this pursuit.


Thank you Master Alvey for taking the time to share your story with us!

Check us out next month for the next instalment in this series!

May 11, 2019

On Saturday, May 11th, Oakridge Taekwon-Do played host to their 12th annual technical seminar at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. There were 60 instructors and students from London, Oakville and Ottawa in attendance. Conducted by TAO Technical Director, Mr. Mike Morningstar, the seminar began with an intensive warm-up and moved right into basic movements, patterns and kicking drills. The training was 5 hours in length; the first 3 hours for color belts and the last 2 hours for black belts.

April 6, 2019

Congratulations to all the students who competed at the 7th Annual Round 13 Athletics Battle of the Brave today.  There was an amazing display of skill shown by everyone who stepped on to the mats. You should all be very proud of your efforts. It certainly made for some hard judging for the officials.

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped set up the gym, spent the day doing whatever was needed of them, and for dismantling the gym at the end of the day. Many hands make light work and the day went perfectly.  Thanks to Stjohn_ambulance for their help as well.

April 6, 2019

On Saturday, April 6th, Morningstar Taekwon-Do held their annual Technical Seminar at Kings Christian Collegiate in Oakville.

There were 90 instructors and students from Oakville, London, Waterdown, Mississauga and the New York in attendance. The seminar began with an intensive warm-up and moved right into basic movements, patterns, step sparring, and self defence.

The training was 5 hours in length, the first 3 hours for yellow belt and above and the last 2 hours for black belts only.

March 30, 2019

On Saturday, March 30th, Johnson’s Taekwon-Do hosted their annual seminar.  The morning session was for colour belts up to and including blue belt while the afternoon session was attended by red belts and above.  A special thank to Mr. Mike Morningstar, Technical Director for ITF-TAO, for coming to Ottawa.  Another great day of training.  Great job to all students; keep up the great work.

March 24, 2019

On Saturday, March 24th, Cabot Taekwon-Do in Goulds, Newfoundland hosted the 6th ITF-TAO “A” and “B” Umpire Course conducted by Mr Rick Winsor, Umpire Director.  This was a 7 hour course which covered the many aspects of judging for sparring and patterns as well as the related regulations for tournaments. Students took part in exercises requiring the use of the signals to indicate warnings and fouls and practiced the procedure to follow during matches. Through practical interaction students were engaged and active throughout the course.  At the end of the day a test was written to help students identify areas they needed to become more familiar with.  According to feedback following the course, students felt it was an integral part of their training and they were pleased with the level of ability they gained from taking part.

March 18, 2019

Getting to Know our Dojangs (1/11)

With an organization that is ever-growing, what better way to get to know each other than our new series, Getting to Know our Dojangs.  Each month a new dojang and its instructor(s) will be presented and introduced in an effort to bring an organization that spans an entire country just that much closer together.

Cabot Taekwon-Do:  Mr. Rick Winsor, VI Dan

Mr. Winsor first began Taekwon-Do in March 1996.  His interest in Taekwon-Do began with his interest in martial arts movies and love for the discipline it instilled.  After being in the military for 22 years, Mr. Winsor also connected with the military-like structure of Taekwon-Do.

Mr. Winsor’s accomplishments in Taekwon-Do include holding a 6th Degree Black Belt, being the Tournament and Umpire Director for ITF-TAO and having numerous wins at provincial, eastern, national and international level championships.  He feels his biggest accomplishment is having a very successful school.

He opened Cabot TKD in September of 2002 due to his passion for teaching Taekwon-Do and loving what it gave back (especially to young kids).  He started with just 7 students and has now grown that number to 90.  Mr. Winsor has also moved through five different locations in his time teaching, including Goulds Rec Centre, Kilbride Lions Community Centre, Kenmount Community Centre and Back Line Road.  His school is currently at Bidgood’s North Plaza in Goulds.

Mr. Winsor’s greatest memory in Taekwon-Do is having Mr. Morningstar become his instructor in 2002.  He also fondly remembers testing for his 4th Degree with Mr. Mike Morningstar, Mr. Derek Morningstar and Mr. Ken Mackenzie at the Delta Hotel during a major St. John’s snowstorm in January 0f 2006.

His goal going forward for his school is for it to grow and produce excellent students, both in technique and character.  Mr. Winsor also wants to see TAO Canada become the most professional Taekwon-Do group in the country.  He feels that with the wonderful people who are running it, he can see this coming true.

Thank you Mr. Winsor for taking the time to share your story with us!

Check us out next month for the next instalment in this series!

August 16, 2018

Cabot Taekwon-Do held a demo on August 16 inviting members of the community to visit their dojang and have a chance to see what Taekwon-Do is all about.  The demo included a brief warmup, a variety of kicking drills, several patterns, self-defence and step sparring.  Of course, as always, the crowd pleaser was board breaking and students from white belt to black belt were given the opportunity to break.  In all, 42 students (and 5 family members) took part in the demo with the youngest being a Little Dragon, just 5 years old.  Each student took part in three or more aspects of the event creating a high energy level throughout the evening.  It was an excellent example of the capabilities of all the students and was a great display of Cabot’s amazing school spirit.

August 2, 2018

ITF-TAO Canada would like to welcome Mr. Roody Etienne and the students of Etienne’s International Taekwon-Do in Ottawa as our latest member.  Mr. Etienne is an ITF certified 6th dan black belt.

In 2009, Mr. Etienne started his first free Taekwon-Do programme to help disadvantaged children and youth at The Heatherington Albion Community Centre in Ottawa.  His passion and dream is to help those in need create a better and safer society.

Welcome Mr. Etienne!

July 17, 2018

On Tuesday, July 17, Terra Nova Taekwon-Do in St. John’s, Newfoundland offered a self-defence workshop as part of St. John’s Pride Week activities.  About 20 participants received introductory training focused on effective counter-attacking through efficient blocking/evading and proper vital spot identification and tool selection.  With an increase in hate crimes perpetrated for reasons of sexual orientation and sexual identity across Canada, Terra Nova Taekwon-Do’s Jeff Butt, 4th dan, says it is very important for members of the LGBTQ+ community to have at least a basic understanding of self-defence techniques.  “While things are improving all the time in terms of acceptance and inclusion, the sad truth is that there are still a lot of people who live in ignorance and let this ignorance guide their actions towards violence.”  Sabumnim Butt was joined by Alex Johnson, 3rd dan, from Cabot Taekwon-Do.

June 28, 2018

June was a busy month at 88 Dragons!

Master Alvey led a free self defence seminar on June 14th for members of the Big Brothers organization.  88 Dragons offers free self defence seminars to local, eligible community groups.  The young men and boys were taught basic self defence techniques, anti bullying strategies as well as situational awareness.  Master Alvey is offering a Taekwon-Do scholarship to one young boy from this group.  88 Dragons will fully fund his training, offer a free uniform and pay for all seminars and tournaments the child participates in.

The following week, June 21st, 88 Dragons presented a non-violence workshop for our members.  The workshop was led by a provincially certified trainer.  The trainer works at a group home for violent young offenders.  He also teaches the course to other group home employees around the province.  The focus was on how to firstly recognize agitated behaviour before the individual becomes violent.  Students were taught how to de-escalate a situation through the use of body language, verbal tone, kindness and understanding combined with communication strategies.

June 24, 2018

ITF-TAO Canada is excited to announce the launch of the new Canadian website……..

June 3, 2018

On the Sunday morning after the CanAm Championships, First Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha conducted a technical seminar assisted by GM Paul Cutler.  Students from Canada, USA, Japan, Nicaragua, Argentina and the UK participated.  The seminar was very interesting not only from a technical and physical perspective but also the amount of historical facts and stories that Grand Master shared with the students.  The people who unfortunately could not attend this seminar missed a great opportunity and experience that rarely comes around.  First Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha was the closest person to General Choi and he is one of his original Students.

After the seminar in Oakville, there was a grading for 4th-6th Dan conducted by First Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha and assisted by GM Paul Cutler. To be graded by FGMR to any rank is the highest honour being that he is the most senior Chang-Hun Taekwon-Do Grand Master in the world today and as stated by General Choi Hong Hi, “The greatest ever student of Taekwon-Do”. Congratulations to Canada’s own Mr. Rick Winsor, 6th Dan!

June 2, 2018

On Saturday, June 2nd the 2018 CanAm Championships were held.  The tournament brought competitors and spectators from across Canada and the USA as well as a team from Japan to the beautiful town of Oakville, nearly filling the 1,000-seat venue.  Special guests included First Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha from Glasgow, Scotland and GM Paul Cutler from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The cheers from the crowd were most notable whenever there was a final match between the USA and Canada, each country encouraging their country’s competitor.

The tournament started with an opening ceremony that culminated with some inspirational words from FGMR as we celebrated his 80th birthday with a cake and the singing of Happy Birthday by the entire stadium.  There was also a moment of silence in honour of General Choi Hong Hi who would have been 100 this year.  The tournament was highlighted by a fiercely competitive Black Belt division consisting of over 90 participants, many of whom had international experience competing in previous World Championships.  St. John’s, Newfoundland was chosen as the host for the 2019 CanAm Championships.

April 14, 2018

On Saturday, April 14th, Oakridge Taekwon-Do played host to their 11th Annual Technical Seminar at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. There were 61 Instructors and students from London, Oakville and Ottawa in attendance. Conducted by TAO Technical Director, Mr. Mike Morningstar, the seminar began with an intensive warm-up and moved right into basic movements, patterns and kicking drills. The training was 5 hours in length; the first 3 hours for color belts and the last 2 hours for black belts. Due to the intense ice storm that hit Southern Ontario throughout the day, the seminar was cut short to allow everyone a safe drive home.