The 20th anniversary of the International Combat Hapkito Federation was celebrated with the first gathering of well-trained martial artists from all over the globe, including Tehachapi's Master Ivan Jadric and students from Tehachapi Combat Hapkito.
Black belt earners from Canada, India, Finland, Dubai, France, Italy, Germany, Panama, Mexico Spain, New Zealand, and Japan all converged on Phoenix, Ariz. in November to participate in the historic gathering.
Many of the local students who joined Jadric and his wife, Maria, not only made the trip to receive their own certificates of accomplishments, but also were on hand to help honor Jadric for his 50 years of martial arts training and commitment.
Grand Master John Pellegrini, the man who introduced Hapkido to adult students beginning in 1987 at his Florida studio, presented Jadric with a plaque, a trophy and two certificates for his dedication and excellence of service as an instructor and a 50-year participant in martial arts.
“I am honored to be presented with the award of excellence,” said Jadric who teaches at the Tehachapi Martial Arts Center in Old Towne. “But I am more proud that so many of my students have been recognized for their hard work and achievements.”
Among those students were a wide range of black belts who will be included in the first book of who's who in Hapkido.
Derek Demus a 4thdegree, Jeff Berchtold a 3rd degree, Kerstin Bassler-Fraijo, Frank Andrade III, Mark Oskay, Ida Tommysen, Matthew Trigo and Victoria Way all earned their 1st degree.
Each and everyone who came to study martial arts for different reasons, including exercise, discipline, and self-improvement to name a few.
Jadric’s own martial arts training began after a motorcycle accident nearly cost him his life when he was 19-years-old. After spending a year in the hospital, martial arts were a way for Jadric to regain his body’s tone, and strength, as well as providing an avenue for regaining his mental strength and discipline as well.
“It is a lot of pain, sweat and hard work, but I don’t know how to quit,” said the Croatian-born Jadric to newer students.
Over the last five decades, Jadric has not only regained his physical strengths and abilities but also surpassed many expectations by studying, practicing and becoming a master in not one but two styles of martial arts -- Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do.
As Jadric presented his students with their ICHF black belt certificates he reminded the recipients and the younger students sporting white, yellow, purple, green and red belts that certifications are more than a piece of paper.
"It shows your achievement; something you have earned," he explained, “My son waited one full year to get his; I waited about six years for my first black belt.”
“This is a big accomplish for me,” said Kerstin Bassler-Fraijo who accepted her 1st degree certificate for her black belt in combat Hapkido. “Sometimes, when you are older you don’t think you can accomplish things, but I am the mother of two, over 40 and I work a couple of jobs, and I did it."
“Traveling to Phoenix was a treat," she added. "There were so many people from around the world and we all had something in common. I am very glad I went, even if we all did not speak the same language, we were able to understand a lot."
Oskay thought it was amazing how everyone got along and the positive energy the gathering of 320 people from all over the world created, while Demus said the many forms of disciplines represented impressed him.
“Everybody was so polite, so friendly, it was humbling,” said Maria Jadric, who holds a brown belt in combat Hapkido and a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Meanwhile, her husband holds a 7th degree in combat Hapkido and in Tae Kwon Do, is an ICHF charter holder, a certified ICHF senior master, an International TaeKwon-Do Association charter holder, a certified ITA senior master, and holds a 1st degree in judo.
And at 70 years old, he has no plans of stopping.
“My next goal is to become a grand master,” said Jadric as he encouraged others of all ages to keep setting goals and working towards them.