The Merrill Karate Club is pleased to announce the award of Black Belt Certificates in the form of Tang Soo Do to Rachel Berg and Allison Smith on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. Tang Soo Do is an ancient Korean martial art incorporating a variety of fighting principles.
Twelve students have achieved black belt certification since the clubs origination in 1983. Rachel and Allison represent the first two female black belts in the Merrill Karate Club’s history.
Both freshmen at Merrill High School, Rachel began her instruction in 2010 beginning in the third grade, while Allison began her training in the summer of 2010 after the second grade. As students, both recipients have completed 13 prior belt level testings before achieving the honor of Black Belt, a summer-long program to become certified instructors, and training in various weapons courses.
Rachel’s primary focus is kung fu, Chinese dao, kobudo involving the use of nunchucks and sword.
Allison’s primary focus is kobudo and kenjustu involving the use of bow staff and sword.
Both Rachel and Allison were instructed for the majority of the years under the direction of Jon Gartmann. In 2015, Master Gartmann sold the club to accept an invitation to move to Texas and teach martial arts with the Kickstart Kids program. Kickstart Kids was started in 1992 by Chuck Norris and George Bush. The program has 40,000 students in the state of Texas. Adam Salazar oversaw their instruction since 2015 and continues to serve as the instructor for Merrill’s club.
Allison is the daughter of Jon and Michelle Smith. Rachel is the daughter of Jeff and Carrie Berg.