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History of Whitecourt Taekwondo

  • 1971: Dave and Rick Billington, students of Grandmaster D.K. Chun, started a branch in Mayerthorpe.  Jim Rennie Sr. began his Taekwondo training.

  • 1975: Jim Rennie Sr continued training with Charles Matagora in Fox Creek under Master JJ Lee of Calgary and advanced to the level of blue belt.

  • 1979: about a dozen Vietnamese refugees were relocated to Whitecourt.  Three of these people were Taekwondo Black Belts: Hung Ngyuyen (3rd Dan Black Belt) Vinh Nguyen and Duc Tran (1st Dan Black Belts)

  • 1980: in cooperation with the Whitecourt Recreation Department, the Whitecourt Taekwondo Club was formed. Some of the students from that very first class were Jim Rennie Jr., Doug Nesterchuk and Don Guenette. Mr. Nguyen was the head instructor until 1985, after forming a close friendship with the Rennies.

  • 1982: The Whitecourt Club joined Grandmaster D.K. Chun and became a branch association

  • 1983: Jim Rennie Sr. became the first Black Belt in Whitecourt, followed the year after by Jim Rennie Jr and Doug Nesterchuk

  • 1985: As the Vietnamese instructors moved across Canada, the Rennie’s took over the reins of the Whitecourt Taekwondo Club

  • 1985-1995: As students grew in numbers and belts levels, new branch clubs were started with instructors from the Whitecourt Club.  Thousands of students trained in these new branches in Mayerthorpe, Sangudo, Niton Junction, Barrhead, Westlock, Evansburg, Peers, Edson, Swan Hills, Slave Lake, Athabasca, Kinuso, Fort Assiniboine and Blue Ridge.  Of these 14 clubs, most are still active today.

  • 1987: Jim Rennie Jr lives in Korea for the school summer break, training at Yonsei University and DongSong Highschool

  • 1989: Jim Rennie Jr and Deanna Harris win spots on the National Team, and move on to the World University Games in Santander Spain.  On the same team was Sayed Najem, a competitor from Edmonton who often trained and taught in Whitecourt, who went on to two Olympic Silver medals. 

  • 1989: Tara Gosselin, Junior Black Belt, won a bronze medal in Colorado Springs at Junior PanAm Games

  • 1992: Deanna Harris, Black Belt, won a bronze medal in the Pan Am Games in the United States.

  • 1993:The Whitecourt Club sends its first team to Korea and Thailand for advanced training.  Some locals include Mike Stuckless, Andy Currie and Gary Parker.

  • 1995: The second team from Whitecourt heads to Asia for training, including Vaughan Mason, Elana Campsall, Mike Pike, Brenda Leriger, Sarah Carlson, Al Bourassa, and Darcy Thompson. 

  • 1998: A team of over twenty head to the Pan Am games in Annaheim, California, where they are asked to demonstrate at the opening ceremony.  Black Belts Orest Bliznicenko, Al Bourassa both Jim Rennie’s and Andy Currie help the team do a crowd pleasing performance and a first place finish later in the tournament.

  • 2001: Tara Rennie wins gold at the Jr. Nationals in Missisauga, Ontario and a spot on the Canadian Junior National Team

  • 2004: Black Belts Tara Rennie and Jeremy Wilhelm compete in the World University Games in Patras, Greece.

  • 2005: The Whitecourt Club starts the first ever program for 3 and 4 year olds.  The class is called Little Dragons, and  the 30 members are instructed by Master Rennie Jr and Mike Braun.

  • 2005: Jeremy Wilhelm represents Canada in the World Hanmadang Competition in Seoul, Korea.  The Canadian Team finished 5th place in this demonstration competition.

  • 2005: The Whitecourt Club hosts a 25th Birthday Party, with many old Black Belts coming back to visit.  Many of the dignitaries include Chris Becker, Shawn Morgan, Don Mackenzie,Doug Nesterchuk (an original student from the first class), Kevin Clarke, Amanda Moir, Mike Popowich, Deb Burak, Brenda Leriger, Randy Terrio, Doug and Lisa Whitney

  • 2006: During his 15th visit to Korea, Master Rennie Jr. takes along 63 students from across Alberta. 

  • 2007: Whitecourt Taekwondo added a new class for children 3 and 4 years old, which was a hit, with all classes hitting class size caps.

  • 2009: Master Jim Rennie Sr. goes to Korea for his 7th Degree Black Belt promotion. Instructor Jeremy Wilhelm and Tara Rennie graduate to their 5th Degree black belts adding to the already increasing amount of high level instructors within the teaching core of the small community.

  • 2012: Master Jim Rennie Jr. goes to Korea for his 7th Degree Black Belt promotion. Making Whitecourt the only Taekwondo club in Canada with two 7th degree Black Belts as instructors. 

  • 2015: Michael Braun is tested to his 5th Degree Black Belt. One of the last Masters to be promoted by Master Jim Rennie Sr. In July of 2015 Master Jim Rennie Sr. passes away at the age of 64 years old. He leaves a massive hole in the Taekwondo community not only in Whitecourt but in Alberta as well.

  • 2016: Master Jim Rennie Jr. accompanies Master Jeremy Wilhelm and Master Michael Braun to Korea for a promotion test. Master Jeremy Wilhelm tests for his 6th Degree Black Belt and Master Michael Braun tests for his 5th dan with the Chang Moo Kwan.

 

  • The Whitecourt Club has taught thousands of students, ranging from 3 years old to well into their 60’s.  While The Rennie family has been the backbone of the club for all of those years, Rennie Jr is quoted as saying “the Whitecourt Club has had great success and earned an international reputation, but not due to any single individual. Our Club has accomplished what it has from the determination and sweat of hundreds of volunteers, instructors and Black Belts.  We are a true Community Club, and will continue to have 200 people a night training long into the future, regardless of who is teaching the class.”