Greenville Taekwondo students test for black belt

Jordan Dill

GREENVILLE – It was a family affair Saturday at the YMCA of Darke County in Greenville as five Taekwondo students tested for their black belt rank.

According to father Jason Geesaman of Greenville, the sport has brought his family of four back together. He and his wife Dena, along with they 13-year-old daughter Mercedes, were among the five that spent the better part of the day being tested both mentally and physically in hopes to advance to the black belt level. Their 10-year-old daughter Denay was supposed to test with them, but was unable to since she had suffered a leg injury. According to the Geesaman’s Denay is hoping to test next month and will join her dad, mom and sister as a family of black belts.

“We couldn’t have gotten to this level without putting God in the center of our lives,” Jason Geesaman told The Early Bird.

Joining the Geesaman’s Saturday were 15-yeard-old Jordan Dill and Travis Gregory, 17, both of Greenville. All are Taekwondo students of the Mike O’Neal class held at the Y. O’Neal is a 4th degree black belt and has more than 30 years of teaching experience. He has had schools in Union City and Winchester, Ind. in prior to the current one at the Darke County YMCA.

“We had members of both Taekwondo and Jujitsu schools so the students could get a wider range of experience and knowledge as they tested for their black belts,” O’Neal stated. “They all did very well and each knew where their strengths and weaknesses were so they can be able to work on them as they advance to the next level.”

Though several of the students are young, their instructor Brenda Glunt assures that they are very mature for their age and are well aware of what responsibilities come with the black belt rank. Glunt is a local instructor under O’Neal and strongly believes in what his teachings do to better all the students.

“Mr. O’Neal has dedicated his entire adult life to his students, both young and adult, by not only teaching self-defense and proper techniques and is also a strong advocate in his teachings against drug and alcohol use,” Glunt said. “He promotes surrounding yourself with positive role models and friendships and living by a strong code of integrity.”

During Saturday’s testing, the students were put through numerous physical displays of technique. They also were tested about their knowledge of the art history. At the end of the day, they each had to fight off several of the black belt judging panel members.

In an interview with The Early Bird at the end of the day, all five students said they were happy to make it to the black belt level and were exhausted from the testing. The group officially received their black belts in a presentation ceremony before their regular class on Tuesday evening at the YMCA of Darke County. In addition, Brenda Glunt and Tim Miller both advanced to second degree black belts during the ceremony.

Back row: Brenda Glunt, Travis Gregory and Tim Miller. Front row: the Geesaman family. (Jordan Dill not pictured)
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