On Sunday, June 23, 2013, the Einstein Tae Kwon Do and Hap Ki Do (TKD/HKD) club celebrated its 35th anniversary, earning it the distinction of being the longest-running club in the medical school's history. Nearly 40 members of the Einstein community attended the celebration, which featured TKD/HKD members demonstrating their skills for promotion to the next belt level.
Dr. Ronald DePinho with Charles Gardner and Grandmaster Kang display a proclamation honoring the club, issued by State Senator Andrea Stewart-CousinsThe club was established in 1978, by then-student Ronald DePinho (Class of '81), who is now president of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Texas. "I was attracted by the physical as well as intellectual attributes of martial arts, and was fortunate enough to learn from Grand Master Ik Jo Kang, one of the most accomplished practitioners of Tae Kwon Do and Hap Ki Do," recalled Dr. DePinho, who in addition to being an alumnus is a former faculty member of Einstein. "Learning Tae Kwon Do instilled a sense of responsibility that encouraged me to give back to society by teaching what I had learned."
Students performing sequence of forms for promotion It was this philosophy that inspired him to form the club, whose foundation was further bolstered when former dean Dr. Dominick P. Purpura provided a room for their practice sessions on the 15th floor of the Belfer building. It was here that the club held its activities and quickly grew into a "dojang" or Tae Kwon Do studio — "a sacred environment that enhances mental and physical abilities and transforms ordinary individuals into extraordinary ones," according to Dr. DePinho.
Dr. DePinho credited the club's long run to the steady stream of outstanding club members who serve as instructors long after they have earned their black belts. Dr. Belinda Jim, associate professor of clinical medicine at Einstein and an attending physician at Jacobi Medical Center, exemplifies this tradition. Initially a student of Dr. DePinho, she continued her training under Grand Master Kang and is currently the senior instructor in the TKD/HKD club.
"Our success continues to depend on the support we get from the Einstein administration, spearheaded by the office of student activities," noted Dr. Jim. "They recognize our unique history and tradition."
With regard to what attracted her to join the club, she added, "Apart from physical fitness, I found that the qualities of perseverance, discipline and concentration, central to Tae Kwon Do, helped me as a student and later as a doctor. My training ensured that I channeled all my energy and focus into giving my best at all times, even under the most strenuous circumstances."
The Einstein Tae Kwon Do-Hap Ki Do ClubDr. DePinho agreed. "Training in martial arts endows physical and mental endurance as well as the ability to withstand stress, and these traits are essential for building a successful professional career."
The club also offers members the opportunity to bond with individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. "Many of us have forged lasting friendships," said Dr. Jim.
The club's future is secure in the hands of Einstein's newest generation, which is passionate about keeping the legacy alive. Lisa Glass is a black-belt holder who serves as one of the club's instructors. A seventh-year M.D.-Ph.D. candidate, she recalled, "I almost didn't join because it was something outside my comfort zone, but I'm glad I did; Tae Kwon Do has made me overcome my limitations and realize new strengths. I ran a marathon, became a black-belt, all of which I never thought I would achieve."
She added, "I'm determined to pay forward the gift the club has bestowed upon me."
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Posted on: Thursday, August 15, 2013