Master Dan Bourelle to visit Asheville for December testing

Master Dan BourelleWe are excited to announce that Master Dan Bourelle, owner and head instructor of Wilmington Martial Arts and Fitness Center, will be joining us as a guest judge for our testing this December. Master Bourelle holds a 5th degree in Hapkido, a 4th degree in Taekwondo and has been teaching martial arts for over 15 years. In addition to being an accomplished martial arts instructor, he is also a certified personal trainer and certified MMA conditioning coach. It is clear that Master Bourelle is an energetic, passionate and dedicated instructor and we are greatly looking forward to his visit!

Master Bourelle began his martial arts practice when he was 13 in Norfolk, NE, in 1993. His older brother paid for them both to take Hapkido classes as a birthday present. However the Hapkido classes were mainly for older students, so Master Bourelle opted to join Taekwondo classes first in order to “earn” his way into the Hapkido classes, which were primarily taught for law enforcement officials. He has continued to train in both arts, and additionally the sword art of Gumbo, for nearly 20 years.

When asked about his greatest influences, Master Bourelle cites his teacher, Master Fred Roskens, and his teacher, Master Ken Brooks. He says he still leans on their guidance by imagining what they would do if they were in his situation. The ninja turtles and karate kid also played a big role in Master Bourelle’s early interest in martial arts. Additionally, he appreciates Bruce Lee’s influence, because “he brought new ideas and philosophy into martial arts and changed people’s minds and perspective.” Master Bourelle says that he strives to do the same.

Master Bourelle began assist teaching martial arts shortly after earning his 1st dan at the age of 16. He had not planned to be an instructor, but simply felt like he was doing his part to give back as a black belt. He took the role seriously and stepped into the new responsibility – and was soon teaching all of the school’s Hapkido classes. He says that teaching felt natural and that it felt good have a positive area in life where he could help others and be respected by adults.

Part of Master Bourelle’s martial arts path includes creating new highlights and roadmarks for himself constantly. Previous defining moments of his martial arts career include unexpectedly placing 1st in a national tournament, and testing simultaneously for his 4th dan in Hapkido and his 3rd dan in Taekwondo. Finally, he describes opening and running his own martial arts school as one of the biggest accomplishments of all –
“After numerous years working for Architecture/Engineering Firm, I lost my job during the recession and decided to open my martial arts school full time. I thought for sure I was going to lose everything I owned to keep the doors open…the first thing I bought for the studio was a couch to sleep on, as I thought I would lose my house. Luckily, my house survived, and so did I, and so did my school! That couch still sits in my office at the school and reminds me that when you want something bad enough, nothing will stop you.”

Master BourelleMaster Dan Bourelle is clearly passionate about both practicing and teaching martial arts. He used to love competing when he was younger, but says that now his practice has evolved to have a deeper emphasis on self-defense, culture, and the forms. He says “I love Taekwondo because there are so many layers that I am still discovering after 20+ years of training.” His favorite element of teaching is seeing students push the limits of what they thought they could do, and then seeing them realize that those limits don’t actually exist! That moment, he says, is when he knows that someone’s life just changed for the better in a big way.

Master Bourelle’s other hobbies include baseball and softball, sand volleyball, music, and guitar playing. He also loves visual arts, and although he doesn’t paint, draw or sculpt often anymore, that passion for art still exists in him and continues to manifest in different ways.

This will be Master Bourelle’s first visit to Asheville Sun Soo. His teacher’s teacher trained under Grandmaster S.J. Kim, who is the founder and president of Taekwon-do International. He is excited to visit a new school and is going to be doing some filming at Sun Soo for part of a documentary. He says that he has learned something new from every school that he’s visited and is excited to see what will be unique about his visit to Asheville. Master Bourelle’s advice to testing students is this – “own it! Which means, accept your current skill level, give it your all, and apply the techniques so that they work for you!” He also added the following – “For those black belts testing, I’m going to pass along one of the best pieces of advice I was given about being a black belt. Good black belts do what they are told quickly and efficiently. Great black belts get it done without being told.”

Thank you Master Bourelle for visiting us and we are very excited to meet you and to share with you!

Master Shay Tippens to visit Asheville for October Testing

This weekend we are pleased to welcome 4th degree Master Shay Tippens to Asheville Sun Soo as one of our guest master instructors on our judging panel.  Master Tippens is the primary instructor at the Chapel Hill location of Master Partridge’s United Tae Kwon Do Academy. Master Tippens is an enthusiastic, friendly and detail oriented instructor and we are excited that he will be joining us for our testing.

Master Tippens began his Tae Kwon Do practice at the age of 10 with Chapel Hill/Carrboro Tae Kwon Do in 1992.  He started because his parents hoped that a martial arts practice would improve his focus and concentration. Master Tippens remembers his first instructor, Master Whittier, as having a strong emphasis on stances, correct technique, and chambers.  Master Tippens remembers feeling awkward and uncoordinated, but his instructors stayed firm and guided him through techniques, helping him experience growth and success.

Master Tippens began teaching Tae Kwon Do in California in 2002 as a trade for the taekwondo classes he was taking.  Choosing to move back from California to pursue his black belt was a pivotal moment for Master Tippens and in 2005 he became the intern for for Chapel Hill/Carrboro Tae Kwon Do. In 2007 he became a full time instructor at the school where he started, and stayed on when Master Partridge took over and they joined the United Tae Kwon Do Academy family.  His recent achievement of 4th Dan has also been a major milestone.
Master Tippens describes his favorite element of practicing Tae Kwon Do as “the moment of “satori” when the physical practice become the meditative… This is probably why I gravitate towards the practice of poomse (forms).”  However, in terms of teaching, Master Tippens says “it’s all about the student.” He loves being part of someone’s “ah ha!” moment, even early on when students are first making efforts towards coordinating left and right sides of the body.

Always passionate about his personal practice, Master Tippens describes his major Tae Kwon Do challenge as learning to teach.  He started teaching at a relatively young age and initially found it to be stressful.  He says he is now very grateful for the students who trusted him at the beginning and helped him to build the confidence that he needed to make a career out of instructing.  He says that he now has more patience with his teaching abilities and trusts that his efforts will lead to improvements over time.
In addition to Tae Kwon Do, Master Tippens enjoys games and puzzles, ranging from classics like the daily crossword or a game of bridge to tabletop games to the occasional video game such as tetris.  He also enjoys spending time with his wife and playing disc golf.
Master Tippens is excited to join us this weekend and is ready to see students performing with focus and confidence!  Thank you Master Tippens for joining us and we hope that you have a great time.

Sun Soo at Eblen Intermediate School

In February, Master Morris, Mr. Dickinson and several Sun Soo students volunteered at Eblen Intermediate School, teaching 6th grade PE for a week. The focus was on practicing self discipline and self respect while learning some of the tae kwon do  fundamentals.

WLOS did a story about it on their “Never Stop Learning” segment with Tammy Watford. Watch the video here.

Odyssey School brings Tae Kwon Do to Students, Community

Asheville, NC November 8, 2010 — Beginning the week after Thanksgiving, Asheville Sun Soo will offer an 8-week introductory Tae Kwon Do session for area residents, students, staff, and family members of Odyssey Community School. The course is value-priced at $250 to include the uniform and up to three weekly classes.

Continuing its commitment to offer adult programs as well as student-based offerings to its surrounding neighbors and community, Odyssey will host four classes weekly at their Montford Historic District campus on Zillicoa Street in North Asheville. Kids classes will be offered twice weekly from 4:00 – 4:45 followed by an adults-only class from 5:00 – 6:00 PM. Kids can return to after-school care until 6:00 if necessary.

Participants are also invited to attend a third class at no cost at Sun Soo’s main facility in the K-Mart Plaza on Patton Avenue. A complete Taekwondo schedule is available on their website at

Head instructor Master Tony Morris notes, “our traditional Tae Kwon Do tenets of Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, and Indomitable Spirit are completely consistent with Odyssey’s philosophy of respectful interaction in an emotionally safe place. Bringing this special session to the school gym provides a convenient opportunity for the community to explore the benefits of martial arts.”

Students will be eligible to test for their white-yellow belt at the end of the introductory session. This martial arts session underscores Odyssey’s commitment to life-long learning and self knowledge, as students can continue their martial arts self defense training in the advanced program at Asheville Sun Soo Traditional Tae Kwon Do Academy.

For more information, contact Odyssey Community School at 828-259-3653 or Master Morris at Asheville Sun Soo Traditional Tae Kwon Do 828-505-4309.

Master Tony Morris is a 6th degree master instructor and -owner of Asheville Sun Soo Tae Kwon Do. He is also an accomplished architect, nationally renowned portrait artist, certified life coach, and trainer and motivational speaker.