Charlie Carries the Torch


2024 is a big year. The dojang will celebrate our 30th anniversary. And this month, our son Charlie will earn his Go-Ma; his child-level black belt

If you ever played organized sports as a child, you know that there are few things worse than the coach’s kid. Can you picture them? Entitled. Untalented. Always getting special treatment. And they always seem to start the game, even though they consistently mail it in at practice. 

Charlie was not given any extra benefits because he is my son. He followed the same path that every other student follows. He started out in the Tigers, and moved through his belts like every child who did it before him. And with no special treatment. 

Being “Master Gorino’s son” has probably made this journey even a little harder for him than other students. People have always looked at Charlie a little differently. They expect different things from him than other students his age. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. 

I have always tried not to be one of those parents who put enormous pressure on their kids to be world champions… like, tomorrow. 

Instead, I have always wanted Charlie to experience what I experienced. To love Tae Kwon-Do for what it is, and experience it not as the son of a Grand Master, but like a normal kid. 

Charlie has never needed any extra help from me. He takes his training very seriously, and he loves the dojang. Charlie helps out around here as much as he can. He likes to teach, and loves to work the front desk. In a way, he is getting the ground-up experience of not just being a student, but running a martial arts school at the same time. 

Charlie has participated on the demo team. He is a Junior Leader, and I am sure he will become a D.E.L.T.A team member when he gets older as well. 

But it hasn’t been all gravy for Charlie. I have watched him struggle with all of the same things other students his age have struggled with. I have talked in this blog many times about the “four times every student wants to quit.” I know Charlie has experienced at least one or two of them. I don’t think he ever really wanted to quit. But there have been many times where he has lost a bit of his enthusiasm for his training.

He has never let moments like those slow him down. He works very hard, and his progress has been steadily moving forward, regardless of any mental setbacks.

Charlie earning his first black belt means a great deal to both me and his mother, Master Tica. It means even more to us that he is doing it through our system. We know that this black belt is only the beginning for him. Charlie isn’t a natural, but he is a hard worker, and we can’t wait to see how he blossoms after this amazing achievement.

My only regret is that my mentor, Grand Master Park, is not alive to see Charlie earn his Go-Ma. He and I talked a great deal about this day, and he always said he wanted to be there when it happened. Grand Master Park and I had talked about me testing for 9th Degree Black Belt on the same day Charlie tested for his first Black Belt.

But in many ways, Grand Master Park will be here. I try every day to honor his legacy by passing along the training, guidance, and wisdom he gave me to every student who walks through my door. 

Me, my wife Tica, and all of our black belt students are a monument to this great man, and the martial art to which he devoted his life.

We also lost another great man recently, Grand Master Robert Heisner. He was the Pioneer of Tae Kwon-Do in Western New York. In addition to teaching martial arts in the Niagara Falls area, he was a minister. He spent a lot of time working with at risk youths and counseling in the prisons in W.N.Y.  He was like an uncle to Charlie, and had been so excited to watch him take his test. 

This month, our son Charlie will join us. And we couldn’t be prouder.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, visit the Contact Us page or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!


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