McDowell now a master instructor
Ainsley Walters, Gleaner Writer
DELROY McDowell, a 40-year practitioner of martial arts, was recently promoted to a master instructor of Sidekicks Taekwondo following the visit of Maurice Orange, head of the San Diego, California, Sidekicks Martial Arts Academy.
Along with master Orange, founder of Sidekicks Taekwondo, sixth-degree McDowell is the only other master instructor in the martial arts style, which started in 1984.
McDowell's promotion came when Orange, a former American Taekwondo Association regional vice-president, travelled to Jamaica to grade third-degree students.
"He came here to test some of my students for fourth degree, as my promotional authority did not extend to taking someone to fourth degree because I was fifth degree," explained McDowell, who switched to Orange's Sidekicks Taekwondo in 1988 and operates a school at the Young Men's Christian Association on Hope Road, St Andrew, with more than 60 students.
"Prior to my sixth degree, as a fifth degree I could only grade up to third degree," McDowell pointed out.
"With my new rank, sixth degree, I am now a master instructor in the organisation. I am actually the only other master instructor in Sidekicks, considering the style is like 20 years old."
McDowell's school at the 'Y', the former National Taekwondo Institute, was actually started by Garth 'Noel' King.
Doing out of love
After King resigned from teaching tae kwon do full time to concentrate on his business, McDowell continued at the location out of love for taekwondo and the 'Y's' volunteer-activities programme.
He ran the school on his own, without continued guidance from a senior instructor or master, until meeting Orange in the summer of 1988.
When Orange resigned from the American Taekwondo Association and started Sidekicks, McDowell and his students remained loyal.
Now 51, McDowell started training in martial arts from "primary school with 'Ras' Roy", doing a system of Korean martial arts, hapkido, at Dragon Gym, Victoria Avenue, downtown Kingston.
"All of my children do tae kwon do - two sons, Kevin and Phillip being black belts, and daughter, Kristen, 14, a green belt," said McDowell.
His other son, Maurice, died at age 19 of systemic lupus last July. He was a first-degree black belt.
Having watched his first instructor, King, move from the International Taekwon-Do Federation to the World Taekwon-Do Federation, McDowell said he is more attuned to the principles of martial arts as opposed to the politics of the sport.
"The politics with martial arts is difficult, the individualism and discrepancies with how instructors handle stuff.
"I think martial arts is a straightforward thing. You train to keep fit, learn the various tenets and live by them.
"The same tenets they should live by, when you look at it, you have to question what's happening. I stay with Sidekicks because of its concepts. It seems to follow what martial arts are supposed to be," he said.