ARLINGTON, Va. --
Tae kwon do is a Korean form of martial arts studied for self-defense, philosophy, power and discipline. Members of the All-Marine Tae Kwon Do Team constantly sharpen these skills so when they do face an opponent, in or out of the ring, they will be victorious.
“I love the level of discipline this sport brings,” said Cpl. Michael T. King, a second-degree black belt and captain of the team. “I love the feeling that when I win all the sweat, blood and bruises actually paid off.”
King, an administrative assistant to the chaplain of the Marine Corps, said practicing the martial art keeps him in outstanding physical and mental shape.
“I've been practicing tae kwon do since I was 19,” King said. “I met the All-Marine coach in 2006 when I was stationed at [Marine Corps Air Station] Cherry Point, N.C.”
King has trained in various martial arts his whole life and was looking to put together a team when he was introduced to tae kwon do master Missy Cann, a sixth-degree black belt and the coach for the All-Marine team.
“I’m just glad to help the Marines any way I can,” Cann said.
Cann also said tae kwon do mentally prepares them for combat.
The All-Marine Tae Kwon Do Team has competed in three competitions so far this year, to include the Armed Forces Conseil International du Sport Militaire Qualifiers, which determined who would represent the U.S. armed forces in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire in St. Jean, Quebec, Canada.
The team will compete in the U.S. Senior Nationals later this year with the hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London, as well as the U.S. Canadian Open and the Tae Kwon Do at Sea, which will establish their official national ranking.
Although the team competes in events occasionally throughout the year, the season never truly ends, King said.
“Team members train on their own during the year and are brought in for certain events leading up to the Armed Forces Team Trials,” said Steven Dinote, the Semper Fit athletic director at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
Unlike the All-Marine Basketball Team that practices together, the tae kwon do team trains on their own to hone their skills, Dinote said.
Recently King was not able to join his team members in Las Vegas for the U.S Open due to military obligations.
“Being a Marine means mission accomplishment,” King said. “We give what time we can to tae kwon do.”
King’s teammates said they share his sentiment.
“Our duty as a Marine comes first,” said Cpl. Terry Hill, training non-commissioned officer in charge of Battery M, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, of Chattanooga, Tenn. “I didn’t join the Marines to do tae kwon do.”
Members of the All-Marine Tae Kwon Do Team also said they enjoy the opportunity to train as a group, but it doesn’t happen very often.
“This year was the first year that the armed forces came together to hold a joint training camp in preparation for the armed forces tae kwon do CISM tournament,” King said. “Usually we only come together to compete for a place on the team, but it was great training together and learning from each other and the coaches who have international and world championship experience.”
King also said it takes a great deal of discipline to be able to get kicked around by someone in the ring and still be friends when they step out.
“In the ring we have a purpose and a goal, but once we step out we are all friends again,” said King, who doesn’t let friendship stop him from enjoying a good fight.
“[Although] the look on someone’s face when they get kicked in the head is priceless,” he added.
For more information on the All-Marine Tae Kwon Do Team, visit www.usmc-mccs.org/sports.