Barb Marian receives her citation at the Korean instructors course.
It has been a memorable year for Colborne resident and Taekwondo instructor, Barb Marian - one that has taken her around the world.
A few years ago Barb began to ascend the ranks of Canadian referees, and this year the 5th dan black belt has been making her mark at the international level.
Since August, 2008 she has flown to Spain, Germany, Sweden for their Open Championships, and to Las Vegas, and Winnipeg. She has been twice to Korea and once to Azerbaijan. At the Spanish Open in April and in June at Azerbaijan she was selected as the best referee.
She travelled to Winnipeg for the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships with a member of Elite Martial Arts, the club she and husband, Glenn, own and coach. Barb refereed, while Cobourg athlete, Katherine Scanlon competed.
The sport of taekwondo continues to move forward and adapt to the times, and Barb has been a participant in the change. The Azerbaijani competition was the first-ever World Para-taekwondo Championship. The June para-championship and accmpanying World Cup Team Championships marked Barb's fourth trip to referee at a world championship. Seventy per cent of the 30 referees at Azerbaijan have officiated at Olympic competitions.
This was the first-ever major event to use electonic body pads which register hits. Video replays were in place for the first time. As well, the rules this year have been revised. She admits it was a significant new approach to the sport, and one in which she was honoured to participate.
The Korean experience was another honour for the lithe instructor. At the invitation of the international taekwondo federation she was invited to participate with 135 top instructors from around the world in a week-long instructors course.
In a building the size of a hockey arena the 116 men and 20 women studied and practised under the tutelage of some of the most illustrious instructors in the sport.
At the Korean Kukkiwon the participants learned how to teach the sport, and how to counsel athletes. They did hands-om sparring and patterns, they learned the value and skill of visualization, and they reviewed the rules of the sport.
Injury prevention and treatment is vital in a contact sport. Professors and doctors provided them with the latest knowledge.
It was a five-day program of intensive work. In an interview at the Colborne Elite Martial Arts gym two days after her return from the July course, Barb outlined somse of the days' schedules. It was an 11 1/2 hour regimen, sometimes with seven hours on the mat followed by another three in class. At the end of it all they were given practical and written tests.
Being in the home of taekwondo was a religious experience on its own; the instruction was inspirational. Already enthusiastic about the sport she and Glenn have adopted, Barb has returned from Korea with renewed vigour, eager to impart new knowledge on her students.
There was no evidence of jet lag as she talked of her recent experiences. Barb was keen to move forward with the 125 kids they instruct in Colborne and Cobourg. The club operates a recreational and competitive program and is home of Canadian Junior National Champion, Briana Hertendy.
On Barb's table sat the commendation she received at the end of the course. She was one of a select few chosen by the professors, doctors, and the head of the Kukkiwon. In a sport dominated by men it is almost unheard of for women to be acknowledged in the instructors course. Barb thinks there may have been three awarded in the 16 years that the course has been offered.
Barb is pleased with the commendation, but she and Glenn are more excited about the benefits the course will bring to the athletes they train. It is particularly important to Glenn, who worries that sometimes people are misled by instructors who promise more than they can deliver. He is no less passionate about the sport and knows that the knowledge Barb is sharing with him will make their strong programs even stronger. It's all about doing it properly. He sees her accomplishments an acknowledgement of the international governing nody that she is "doing it right".
While the busy 2008-9 season is behind her, Barb is already committed to several competitions in the year ahead.
This August she returns to Korea for the Korean Open. The Costa Rica Open follows and she may be invited to the World Championships in Copenhagen in October.
The energetic and engaging instructor/referee would like to accept an invitation to the Polish Open in September, but Glenn is not so sure.
Referees receive an honorarium and their room and board while at meets. All other expenses, including air fare is borne by the referee. There is only so much the family can afford. Glenn's father, Joseph, emigrated from Poland and there are familt ties, but they may not over-weigh the financial considerations.
Glenn runs Marian Industires in Colborne and Barb is the Business and Finance Manager for Newman Oliver & McCarten in their Campbellford office. Her supervisors have been very supportive, but in the end she may not be able to stretch the family budget.
Barb had hoped at one time to be invited to referee at either the Athens or Beijing Olympics, but it didn't happen. Under the old eligibility rules she would have exceeded the age limit before the next Olympics in London, England in 2012. New regulations allow referees over the age of 50 to participate.
After a year of rewarding and beneficial activities there may be hope yet that she will be selected by the governing body.
Barb understands why the taekwondo federation is careful about the selection of referees. At the Spanish Open one day they were at the site 17 hours. In a full-contact sport the referee has to be as attentive in the 17th hour as in the first.
To help her conditioning Barb is up at 5:30 every morning running.
As the interview wound down Glenn pointed out that Barb is internationally accredited as a referee and as an instructor. That is a rare combination, as most poeple who pursue the sport rise in one or the other stream of endeavour.
Up until this year Glenn has travelled only to North American competitions as a referee. This year he received his international qualifications as a referee and can work in the same meets as Barb.