Earle ready for new chal­lenges

Wes­ley Earle Jr. guns for eighth-de­gree black belt spot at Pan Am Games

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

Keep­ing fit

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.”

We­blink: http://www.ear­lestkd.com

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Shearstown taek­wondo in­struc­tor Wes­ley Earle Jr. is gear­ing up for a ma­jor test later this year — ob­tain­ing an eighth-de­gree black belt.

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