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Parent says taekwondo suspension ‘ridiculous’

Grand Master Woo Yong Jung is seen during a martial arts demonstration in January 2017.
Grand Master Woo Yong Jung is seen during a martial arts demonstration in January 2017. - The Chronicle Herald

A Valley father says it’s “ridiculous” that a taekwondo instructor is being investigated for physically disciplining his teenage son.

“People are totally vindictive and malicious against our coach,” said Rolf Meier.

Meier’s three children train with Grand Master Woo Yong Jung, the former Olympic bronze medallist who owns and operates Woo Yong’s Taekwondo Academy on Kempt Road in Halifax.

A complaint was filed Jan. 15 with the Maritime Taekwondo Union (MTU), the Nova Scotia taekwondo governing body, against the South Korean-born Jung for using a bamboo cane on Meier’s 17-year-old son, Rodrigo.

The caning was done in front of numerous members of the club, including minor-aged students, an MTU news release said.

Meier said the complaint was lodged by a woman who has a daughter at the academy.

“Halifax police told her at the time that this is not an assault because it was mutually agreed upon as a traditional Korean punishment,” Meier said.

Halifax Regional Police have confirmed that they investigated, that the caning took place and that no charges will be laid.

MTU president Doug Large reiterated in a news release Monday that the association immediately suspended Jung from all coaching activities at local and national taekwondo events in the wake of the complaint. The MTU has initiated two investigations in response to the original complaint, and a second concerning Jung’s behaviour at the national taekwondo championships in Ottawa Feb. 15-18. The March 4 complaint asserted that Jung was seen in restricted access areas despite his suspension.

The results of both investigations are to be turned over to an independent disciplinary panel for review and possible additional sanctions.

The three-member panel is made up of professionals from the legal, management and medical communities who are not members of the taekwondo community or the MTU. Sanctions available to the discipline panel range from dismissal of the complaint to permanent expulsion from the MTU.

Meier said he has been travelling to Halifax four times a week for the past five years to have his three children — sons Rodrigo and national junior champion Django, 16, and daughter Jaya, 14 — work with Jung.

“What is going on is preventing my son from having his coach at the world championship of taekwondo in Tunisia,” Meier said. “He doesn’t have his coach because they are drawing out the investigation. Still nothing. No report, nobody questioned. The MTU is led by a man that was (pushed) out of the club by Master Woo Yong Jung. He is full of resentment and he is now trying to get payback.”

Large dismissed the accusation.

“The MTU has responded as an organization, according to our policy,” Large said. “I am not part of the decision-making process as to what happens during the course of the investigations. I am not part of the decision-making process of what happens with our disciplinary panel.

“My personal relationship with Master Jung is irrelevant.”

Large was once an instructor at Jung’s school. He left to start his own club, Chimo Taekwondo.

“I was his student for the first of my practice,” Large said. “I left his club to open my club. He continued in the role as my master for a number of years. We had a falling out and a subsequent reconciliation. Prior to this event, there were no issues between Master Jung and myself.”

Large said investigations take time, especially when the investigating team is made up of volunteers.

“There is nothing in our policies that limits the amount of time it takes to do the investigations,and once the investigations

are done, then we have some timelines to follow. Everybody who is working on this is a volunteer. They are doing this at whatever pace they can.”

Not fast enough for the Swissborn Meier, a production manager at a Valley strawberry growing operation.

“I find it totally ridiculous how far they are pulling this out,” Meier said. “You have the police saying, ‘It’s not a case, see you later guys,’ social services saying it’s really unusual but it is not a case.”

There is no safer place to have children trained than at Jung’s academy, a member of the parents association said.

“That is the way the parents association feels,” Byron Kendell said. “This was a question ofdiscipline between a family and that is the method that he used. . . . It was in the best interests of that young man.”

Meier said Jung is the best taekwondo instructor in the region, and his children and others are being penalized by the lengthy suspension.

“Those little people who make up the Maritime Taekwondo Union are very envious of his accomplishments. That’s what my main thing is and now they are trying to play games with it.”

The Canadian Justice Department website says slapping and punching may be considered assault, with some exceptions that include consent. Examples of consent include hockey players and boxers who have agreed to allow physical contact within the rules of the sport. The site says that under some circumstances, parents or teachers can use reasonable force to control a child or keep the child or other children safe.

Meier said his son deserved the punishment, accepted it and “getting 10 caning hits on the rear didn’t make Rodrigo move at all.”

“He came home, sat on his rear. It stung some but otherwise he was fine. We forgot about it.”

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