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Taekwon-Do Dublin TKD

Senior master Robert J. Howard, was promoted to Taekwon-Do Grandmaster, 9th degree black belt, at the 17th ITF World Championships in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Grandmaster Howard received his new rank (Sasung, Korean for Grandmaster) from the president of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), Professor Chang Ung, at the 17th World Championships. The RITA’s president has just returned from the North Korean capital city and his family and students throughout Ireland are already celebrating the fantastic news. He is the first European to be promoted by the Professor Chang Ung and the ITF and, according to the ITF’s website (, makes him the 8th worldwide. Also promoted in North Korea to the coveted rank of Grandmaster was Senior Master Phap Lu (Canada), SM Hwang (ITF and Czech technical director), SM Kim (Technical director to Bulgaria).

On his promotion Grandmaster Howard said "I'm so honoured to be promoted to Grandmaster by the ITF. When I started in Taekwon-Do back in the sixties I never thought I’d be still training today, and still with my original instructor First Grandmaster Rhee Ki Ha. Perseverance is one of General Choi’s five tenets and I’ve always tried to live by them.

Grand Master Howard is the highest ranking Taekwon-Do practitioner in Ireland. He is renowned for his loyalty to both his instructor, First Grandmaster Rhee Hi Ha, and the founder of Taekwon-Do, General Choi Hong Hi. He is a true martial artist and teaches Taekwon-Do in the spirit in which Gen Choi intended.

He started his martial arts training in 1966 and was one of the first Irish men to achieve the rank of black belt in 1971, (the other two were Mr Liam Dandy (now Master) and Mr Frank Mathews). He was one of the driving forces in the promotion of Taekwon-Do in Ireland. Through his instructor, First Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha, he has a direct lineage to the founder of Taekwon-Do, Gen Choi Hong Hi.  Indeed many of today’s students of Taekwon-Do in Ireland can trace their roots back to Gen Choi Hong Hi, via GM Rhee and GM Howard.  In 1995 he became the first Irish man to be promoted to Master (7th Degree).

Over his years of teaching Taekwon-Do, Grandmaster Howard has trained thousands of students and produced hundreds of black belts (including Master and Senior Masters).  He has trained many international competitors and World Champions.

Since the early 70s he has been travelling the world training in Taekwon-Do and umpiring in European and World Championships.  He is very well respected both in Ireland and internationally and has many Taekwon-Do friends around the world.

In 1994 he retired from umpiring internationally but as the president of the association he continues to represent Ireland at European and World congresses.

In 1995 he was promoted to 7th degree, making him the first Irish man (and third European) to achieve the title of Sahyung (Korean for Master).

Grand Master Howard still trains and teaches. He travels throughout Ireland, giving seminars and classes and continues to be an inspiration to his students. He is also the senior examiner at the RITA black belt gradings. GM Howard teaches at the Cabra Parkside community centre, Dublin 7 ( The promotion will make the RITA’s 40th anniversary in 2012 even more special. Photo by Mark Nixon (


Senior Master Howard's Dojang is starting an introductory Taekwon-Do course for teenagers commencing on the 20th September for a period of 8 weeks. The cost of the course is €40 and is open to both boys and girls. We hope to see you there. You can contact me with any enquiries at the number below.

Master Robert Howard 087 698 7624


2 Masters, 2 Days, 5 Components  – Athlone Training weekend a great success.


20 Taekwon-Do students from 6 schools travelled to Athlone for the weekend to train hard under the guidance of two ITF masters.  The students from; Athlone, Blessignton, Cork, Galway, Kilmacow, Limerick, and Old Bawn, trained, sweated, learned and laughed as Master Robert Howard and Master Mark O’Donnell drove them through the weekend’s training.

It was a great opportunity for students ranging from 10th kup to 6th degree black belt to train together and cover all the five components of Taekwon-Do.  The goal of the weekend was for students to develop an understanding of how the five components; fundamental movements, patterns, conditioning, sparring and self-defence, are all linked together and that if they leave out one component then they are not doing Taekwon-Do. If they spend all their time doing patterns and omit self-defence, or concentrate on sparring too much at the expense of power breaking (conditioning) then their Taekwon-Do is incomplete. ‘The students got a chance to see all the aspects of Taekwon-Do. It was great, especially for the lower grades who often can’t see the point of doing 3 and 2 step sparring’ said Conor Dunne assistant instructor at Athlone Taekwon-Do School.

This wasn’t a technical seminar, but the two masters pointed out common mistakes which students make and gave valuable tips on how to maximise the power in their blocks, kicks, strikes. In the fundamental movements the students were taught how to use their whole body to defend themselves, everything from their fingertips to their toes.

Master Howard (Instructor at Master Howard’s Dojang) explained the need to for students to train hard both in the dojang and at home to develop your body. He quoted General Choi’s definition of Taekwon-Do, ‘It is the scientific use of the body in the method of self-defence; a body that has gained the ultimate use of its facilities through intensive physical and mental training’ and stressed the intensive physical and mental training part of the definition.

Master O’Donnell added to the discussion and said ‘If you want to just come along twice a week and do Taekwon-Do as a hobby, that’s fine, but don’t expect to become a black belt.’ He went on to say ‘You need to train 3 or 4 times per week, to supplement your dojang classes. If you are just coming to the dojang twice a week and not training or even thinking about Taekwon-Do at home then you are just wasting your time.’
The final component of the weekend was self-defence.  The masters pointed out that there are no secrets in self-defence. Whether it is a release from grab of defending against a knife, it is just the practical application of all the other four components of Taekwon-Do. It is not as artistic or beautiful as a pattern or as exciting to watch a good spar. It is rough, ready and effective.  There are obviously points like moving your body out of the way of the blade and moving in to grab the wrist, but these should have already been learned through fundamental movements, patterns and sparring.

The weekend ended with the masters thanking the students for training so hard and for their desire to learn and understand.  There were requests to make it an annual event and Galway was mentioned as next year’s venue. 










ITF 7th Degrees, Master Robert Howard and Master Mark O’Donnell, will be conducting an action packed training weekend on the 20th/21st August in Athlone. The two days of training will cover all aspects of Taekwon-Do and give a special emphasis on real applications of the techniques in self-defence and knife self-defence situations.  Topics to be covered include; patterns, sparring, flying techniques, self-defence and knife self-defence, making it a complete Taekwon-Do weekend.

Training is open to Black Belts and Colour Belts (9th kup up) from all Taekwon-Do schools and associations. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to train with 2 ITF Masters for 2 days.

Venue: Athlone Regional Sports Centre, Ballymahon Rd, Athlone, Co. West Meath.
Date: Saturday 20th August (10 am to 5 pm), Sunday 21st August (10 to 1 pm).
Closing date: Monday 15th August
Cost: €60 (€50 RITA members)
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Application Form: Download application form
Poster: Download event poster

Congratulations to the 21 boys and girls who were promoted to their next stripe, at last Friday’s grading under Senior Master Phelan (8th Degree). There were 16 promotions to red stripe (year 2) and 5 promotions to black stripe (year 1). The children are in the Taekwon-Do Tigers class (ages 6 to 8 years) which is part of the RITA’s children’s development programme and has a belt /stripe system which is unique to the programme. The Cabra school’s chief instructor, Senior Master Howard (8th degree), was there as a special guest, and the Tigers instructor Master Howard (7th degree) was also present and gave the commands. The Tigers were assessed under four categories; technical, physical and flexibility, kicking and jumping, and theory with Korean words, with the children showing improved performances in all areas especially flexibility and jumping. Both Senior Masters were very impressed with the children’s development and overall standard. As a result, the examiner had a very difficult job in deciding who to give the grading award to. To help in his decision he called 6 of the boys and girls to the floor again and had a second look at them. In the end he decided to give the grading award to Joyce Yu for her higher technical standard.

It was a busy year for the Tigers with their Christmas demonstration, Cabra tournament, and a trip to Athlone for another tournament. The grading was the final event in their calendar and the Tigers are now on their summer break and classes will resume in September. Master Howard would like to thanks all the parents for their support this year and looks forward to seeing them all again in September.

Photographs from this grading are available online here.

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