A family of black belts

By on June 17, 2019
The Kanous family of black belts (l-r): Richard, Nancy, Alicia and Rick.

The Kanous family of black belts (l-r): Richard, Nancy, Alicia and Rick.

It’s been said that the family that plays together, stays together. Well, in the case of Clarkson residents Rick and Nancy Kanous, the family that kicks together, sticks together. Rick (Hilton High School, class of 1980) and Nancy met in a Unified Tae Kwon Do school in the late 1980s. Rick, a third-degree black belt, was one of the instructors and Nancy was a student. Soon they shared a love for the Korean Martial Art and a last name; and as the years passed their children, Alicia and Richard II began studying Tae Kwon Do. Alicia and Richard achieved their third-degree black belts together in 2010; by this time Rick was a sixth-degree. And Nancy? She was one belt away from black belt but had paused her own practice, choosing to focus her energies on home, work, and being a TKD/football/cheer mom. 

Fast forward to 2019: Rick, 57 years old, is a seventh-degree black belt; the highest level an American had attained in Unified Tae Kwon Do (all higher belts were given as an honorary degree). But that didn’t stop this former Marine from pursuing his dream of becoming an eighth-degree black belt. There was no testing protocol for it, so Rick worked hard to create a pattern which was approved by the co-founder of Unified Tae Kwon Do. Rick practiced diligently in anticipation of the grading ceremony in May. But he wasn’t the only member of the family overcoming obstacles in pursuit of their dreams. After years of supporting her family from the sidelines, Nancy decided to come back and finally get her black belt. Despite the limitations brought on by age and previous knee and shoulder surgeries, she persevered to relearn old patterns she’d forgotten along with new patterns for the upcoming grading. 

May 18, 2019 was a momentous day for the Kanous family. Rick became the first American in Unified Tae Kwon Do to earn his eighth-degree black belt. Richard became the youngest Unified instructor to earn his fifth-degree black belt. And Nancy made the family of black belts complete as she finally earned her first-degree. It was a day of Kanous character on display; a day to celebrate the family bond that comes from their shared faith in God and from the tenets of Tae Kwon Do: courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance, and indomitable spirit. 

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