Earle ready for new challenges
Wesley Earle Jr. guns for eighth-degree black belt spot at Pan Am Games
Shearstown taekwondo instructor Wesley Earle is gearing up for two major challenges over the course of the next year. In November, he’ll travel to South Korea in an attempt to obtain an eight-degree black belt. Then in 2018, Earle will compete for a spot with Team Canada for a taekwondo discipline that’s new to the Pan American Games, being held the following year in Lima, Peru.
SHEARSTOWN, NL — Wesley Earle Jr. spent 11 months in hospital following a battle with severe pancreatitis. Now he’s preparing to take himself to new heights in a sport that’s been Earle’s passion for most of his life.
Earle, a head instructor with Earle’s Tae Kwon Do in Shearstown, will travel to South Korea this fall to obtain an eighth-degree black belt. He’s also preparing himself for a bid to represent Canada at the 2019 Pan American Games.
His plans for the trip to South Korea were spurred on by encouragement from Master Seungmin Rim, a taekwondo instructor in Alberta who was conducting a poomsae seminar in Newfoundland and Labrador. Rim is Taekwondo Canada’s head coach in poomsae, a non-combative taekwondo form involving defined patterns of defence and attack motions.
Taekwondo has a history with the Pan American Games, a summer sporting event held every four years. For the 2019 games in Lima, Peru, poomsae is set to debut as a competitive event.
“I’ve known (Rim) for years,” said Earle, who has spent time with the national coach at a variety of training camps. “He recommended me as a representative for Canada at the Pan American Games.”
Earle will need to compete at the Canada Open and the Canadian National Team Trials next year to go to the games. But before that, he’ll look to become a Grand Master in the martial art. To do so, Earle will travel to South Korea in November to train and get tested for an eighthdegree black belt.
“You have to go to Seoul, Korea, over to the Kukkiwon, which is the main headquarters for taekwondo,” Earle explained. “They only do high dan (black belt rank) testings over there. Outside of Korea, the highest you can go is seventh dan … To go to eighth-degree black belt, you have to go right into the Kukkiwon headquarters.”
While going to South Korea will be quite the experience for Earle, who has trained in taekwondo for 38 years, he feels ready for it.
“I’ve been a seventh-degree black belt now for almost eight years,” he said, having completed the public test for that belt on home soil in Bay Roberts.
The most daunting aspect of preparing for his upcoming test and attempting to represent Canada internationally is staying in top shape, according to Earle.
“If you don’t diet right, you don’t exercise right, you don’t sleep right, you can’t compete right,” he said. “To compete at that level, you have to live a different lifestyle. You have to be on your edge all the time. It is part of my lifestyle (now), but by stepping it up to that level of competition, I’ve had to make some small changes … More training, for one. Better diet, for two.”
Earle’s start with the sport came as a boy in 1979.
“My father asked me and my brother when we were living in Saint John, New Brunswick if we wanted to join gymnastics or taekwondo,” Earle recalls. “And of course, I didn’t know what taekwondo was. All I knew was it was a martial art, and I’ve always been fascinated with the martial arts.”
Earle’s Tae Kwon Do opened in September 1982 in Shearstown, and today occupies a building behind the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall. Beyond his ongoing interest in teaching others about the discipline, Earle has an unyielding passion for taekwondo.
“I enjoy it because it’s a way of life. It gives me great physical fitness. It keeps me healthy.”
He gives a lot of credit to mental training through taekwondo for getting him through the 11-month stay in hospital, which came to an end last May.
“And of course, the medical system and God himself,” he said. “It all played a part. I wasn’t supposed to live.”
I said, ‘I’m not quitting.’ And I didn’t quit taekwondo — and I’m not quitting life.
When Earle first became sick in July 2015, he was a healthy 215 pounds. By February 2016, he was less than 90 pounds.
“I always try to be positive, because when you think positive, positive things happen,” he said. “When you live a way of life like that, you seem to have a stronger outlook … I said, ‘I’m not quitting.’ And I didn’t quit taekwondo — and I’m not quitting life.”
Shearstown taekwondo instructor Wesley Earle Jr. is gearing up for a major test later this year — obtaining an eighth-degree black belt.