History of Taekwondo Alliance of Alberta
The Taekwondo Alliance of Alberta (TAA) has an exciting and controversial part, leaving a legacy ahead in the future of Taekwondo in Alberta.
Founders Master Jim Rennie Sr. (1950-2015) and his son, Master Jim Rennie Jr., saw a need for change in the 1990’s in Alberta’s Taekwondo (TKD) scene. At this time, TKD was politically controlled by a small group, and in the area of competition, the champions were at times chosen by favouritism instead of abilities.
At the 1992 Nationals in Canada, an Albertan favoured to win the Canadian spot on the Olympic team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona was clearly robbed of the chance due to politics. Unfortunately, Team Canada went on to the Olympics with the selected competitor with perhaps our country’s poorest performance by a representative ever.
At the same time, locally there were so many instances of high level Black Belts being held back from higher ranks, as their Master’s aimed to control their students and not allow them to progress to their own destinies from their years of hard work, and contribution to TKD in the province.
The Rennie’s united with a large group of similar minded Albertans to form the Taekwondo Alliance of Alberta, with over thirty clubs of high level martial artists who wanted to see the focus on their students instead of politics. Some of the mandates of the newly formed not-for-profit was to unify coloured belt promotions, so that everyone had the same belt system and certificates. As well, all Black Belts would be tested annually in a large group, which added so much credibility to the tests, as well as the excitement from hundreds of people attending promotions together. All certification was promptly administered through the Kukkiwon, the universal promoter of Black Belts, again something that was lacking in many previous schools. Annual retreats were held to promote continued learning for instructors, and many training trips took part to far off places such as the Carribean, Mexico, Thailand and Korea. As well, it was the first group in Canada to promote group liability insurance, allowing instructors and students and their families to rest easy knowing they had a group insurance plan.
As the group matured, many Masters were promoted to 5th Degree Black Belt Level and higher. Some of those include (in no particular order):
Jim Rennie Sr. Jim Rennie Jr. Ken Froese Jeremy Wilhelm
Tara Rennie Mike Braun Doug Kim Tracy Lu
Adam Forest Bonnie Lanosky Greg Biamonte Thai Le
Steve Bartley Bill McLaughlin Melissa Isaac Mike Braun
Terri Miller Sean Cooper Norm Moreland Derek Sadler
Interestingly, this splinter group of Black Belts in Alberta led to many more groups uniting across Canada for the same purposes, as well as into the United States and abroad. Master Rennie Sr. stated “it was not a comfortable position to be in, as we left the ranks that had been followed by so many before us. But it was the right thing to do, and changed Taekwondo for the future of our province, across Canada and abroad. The right choice is not always the easiest choice.”
The Alliance has continued to evolve, with many of the original clubs still belonging, and new clubs continuing to come along. Some clubs have moved on, with the ongoing support of the Alliance, as they are able to do Kukkiwon Membership System (KMS) certifications on their own through Taekwondo Canada as they have now reached master level. The Alliance still continues large group Black Belt tests, and in 2019 won the KMS Member of the Year for Canada. The Alliance has a variety of trips planned, 2022 to Thailand, and again in 2022 to Korea, for group training. In a closing comment, Master Rennie Jr. says “I am proud of what Dad and I were able to be a part of, along with so many visionary martial arts enthusiasts.
Together, our Alliance changed what Taekwondo looks like to many in our province, and after a period of transition, it is great to see all groups within the province working together to focus on the most important element of our sport- our student’s growth!”