DANBURY, August 31, 2012 – Friday, August 31 was an evening of celebration at Han Dol Martial Arts, where students train in the traditional Korean-style martial art of Soo Bahk Do. Four students were promoted to first, second, or third-degree midnight blue belt. Students of Soo Bahk Do start with a white belt, and then graduate to an orange, green, red, and midnight blue belt respectively. Unlike other popular styles of martial arts, there is no black belt in Soo Bahk Do because black symbolizes perfection. All four midnight blue belt candidates had to face a grueling test in which they demonstrated proper technique, physical endurance, board breaking skills, and knowledge of commands in Korean.
John Sotherland was promoted to Sam Dan, or third-degree midnight blue belt. Sotherland began training in Soo Bahk Do when he was 13 and has trained for 10 years. He is a Jo Kyo Nim, or certified assistant instructor, and has been teaching part-time at Han Dol since April 2012. Sotherland has remained committed to his training over the years despite various other commitments, including graduating from college in Boston and then moving back to Danbury and transitioning from college life to a full-time job. Anthony D'Andrea and Jordan Walker were promoted to E Dan, or second-degree midnight blue belt. D'Andrea and Walker began training at five and six respectively and have both trained for nine years. Alex Pitser was promoted to Cho Dan, or first-degree midnight blue belt. Pitser began training at age four and has trained for nine years. The three teens have learned to balance their training with school and extra-curricular activities such as band, wrestling, and basketball.