This is the second in our series of conversations with leaders in the poomsae world to help promote the positive development of poomsae in the U.S. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Grandmaster Turgeon!
Profile (extract from Team USA/USA Taekwondo website)
Birthplace: Hartford, CT
Coach: GM Park Hae Man
Dojang: CT Chung Do Kwan
High School: East Catholic H.S. (Manchester, Conn.) ’83
Sports Played in High School: wrestling and track
David is an international referee in both poomsae and kyroogi…he has refereed at the Pan Am Championships, World Collegiates, German Open, Canadian Open and U.S. Open…he is an international certified Kukkiwon instructor (2000) and served on the Kukkiwon Advisory Board (2007-08)…he is also a certified USA Wrestling coach and certified state of Connecticut middle and high school level coach.
MAJOR POOMSAE COMPETITION RESULTS (past 5 years):
2011 U.S. National Poomsae Team Member (1st Masters)
2011 U.S. National Poomsae Team Member (2nd Team w/Garth Cooley & Ron Southwick)
2011 U.S. National Poomsae Team Trials (1st Masters): 1st
2011 U.S. National Poomsae Team Trials (2nd Team w/ Garth Cooley & Ron Southwick): 1st
2011 U.S. Open (1st Masters Poomsae): GOLD
2011 U.S. Open (2nd Team Poomsae w/ Ronald Southwick & Garth Cooley): GOLD
2010 U.S. National Poomsae A Team Member (2nd Team w/ Garth Cooley & Ron Southwick)
2010 U.S. National Poomsae Team Trials (2nd Team w/ Garth Cooley & Ron Southwick): 1st
2010 U.S. Open (1st Masters Poomsae): GOLD
2009 World Poomsae Championships (2nd Team w/ Garth Cooley & Ron Southwick): 8th
2009 World Poomsae Championships (1st Master Male): 9th
2009 U.S. National Poomsae Team Member
2009 U.S. Poomsae Team Trials (1st Masters): 1st
2009 U.S. Poomsae Team Trials (2nd Men’s Team): 1st
2009 U.S. Poomsae Team Trials (2nd Pairs): 3rd
2009 Danish Poomsae Open (1st Masters): GOLD
2009 Indy Cup (Ultra Division): Grand Champion
2008 U.S. National Poomsae Team Member
2008 World Poomsae Championships (1st Masters): 10th
2008 World Poomsae Championships (2nd Men’s Team): 7th
2008 World Poomsae Championships (2nd Pairs): 9th
2008 Belgium Technical Open (1st Masters): 5th
2008 U.S. Poomsae Team Trials (1st Masters): 1st
2008 U.S. Poomsae Team Trials (2nd Men’s Team): 1st
2008 U.S. Poomsae Team Trials (2nd Pairs): 1st
FPM: How long have you been training in taekwondo?
DT: It will be 37 years this September
FPM: When did you first start competing in poomsae and what are some of the most significant changes that you have observed take place since then?
DT: I started competing at the first poomsae team trials in 2006 in San Diego, before that it had been 20 years since I had competed myself. One of the most significant changes over the last year would be the changes that have been made to the age groups, especially the pairs and teams. The other exciting change is the growth that competition poomsae has seen, more and more competitors are getting involved and getting excited about competing in poomsae only.
FPM: What is your training schedule like?
DT: I spend five days a week training, weekends tend to be either tournaments, seminars or family time. Each day is a mix of conditioning and poomsae work. I try to mix it up a bit, but usually include yoga, bike riding, elliptical, kicking drills and various methods of performing poomsae.
FPM: As a competitor who has done it all (pairs, teams, and individual), which do you feel is the most challenging of the three and why?
DT: Each event has its own challenges and each has its own rewards as well. I would not say any is more difficult than the others, but you have to approach each event with a different focus. When I represented the US in all three events at the World Championships I had different views for each. It is a great honor to represent your country in the individual competition, being out there on your own and performing to your best ability is what all the training was for. The experience of being able to compete at a World Championship on stage alongside my wife was fantastic, how many couples can say they have shared that kind of experience in their lives? And my teammates Master Cooley and Master Southwick always make competing with them a fun and memorable experience. Anyone who knows them and gets to see us practice and prepare together instantly sees that we mesh together as a team well and we make the most of our time on the mat together.
FPM: What do you think about or focus on while you compete?
DT: Once it is time to compete, I really just try to relax and not think about anything at all. Part of doing poomsae well is being able to be very natural in your movements and let your technique flow fluidly and I find the less I think about the moves the more natural I can flow.
FPM: As captain of the US National Team, in what direction would you like to see USAT take in relation to poomsae (funding, seminars, etc.)?
DT: The biggest step for the US to make in poomsae is the support and recognition of the team. Right now the US Poomsae Team is fully self-funded and trained. Efforts to improve the recognition of our poomsae champions need to include raising the level of US competitions by giving poomsae the same attention and effort as sparring. Full enforcement of the rules, such as proper number of rounds, number of forms per round, posting of results and securing highly qualified referees are needed to bring the US up to par with the rest of the world. Taking shortcuts during competitions and changing rules at the last minute have become the norm for our US competitions and it needs to stop. Once these things happen then we can move on to having elite level training and even extensive separate team trials so that the best representatives will always be selected for our team. Some say that USAT can’t handle the financial burden of supporting the team, but the fact is poomsae would more than support itself if treated properly. With the right recognition and treatment of poomsae divisions the competitions would expose hundreds and thousands of new competitors to the NGB and give USAT the resources it needs to support both the elite level competitors and the grassroots movement. USAT could then push the grassroots training of poomsae and help those who want to get involved have access to the many knowledgeable people in the US.
FPM: To schools that perhaps do not teach WTF/ Kukkiwon poomsae to the standard needed for today’s athletes to succeed in a state , national, or international event, what suggestions would you give them to come more in line with today’s standards?
DT: The first step is acceptance. An instructor has to want to change and have an open mind about what is being taught. I see that even my instructor, who is considered one of the pioneers in taekwondo, has an open mind about small changes to the way some moves are done, and I figure if someone of his position can be open minded about it then I have no reason not to be. Taekwondo is an ever evolving sport that grows and improves over time and as the people given charge to spread the sport throughout the world we have to always strive to find the most up to date training and improvements to expand taekwondo as far as we can.
FPM: Of the national and international competitions in which you’ve participated, which event/tournament are you most proud of and why?
DT: It’s hard to pick any one over the others, each has its memories and experiences and I could go on and on about every one of them. But some stand out, as I said performing in all three events at the 2008 World Championships and getting to represent the US beside my wife Judy, and the various times I am out there with my teammates. One great memory will always be the Danish Poomsae Open when after taking first in a full division against competitors from six or seven different countries, my son and daughter were there watching me compete, and the award they gave was no bigger than a quarter. I can still hear my teenage son saying “We came all the way to Denmark for that!” But every time I think of that it reminds me that the reward isn’t the medal you might get but the knowledge that you worked hard to improve your technique and then each performance is the reward itself.
FPM: What excites you about the future of poomsae?
DT: Poomsae competition is growing in the US very quickly. I think that once people see higher level poomsae they appreciate just how much hard work and effort goes into it and are encouraged to try and participate themselves. The great thing about poomsae competition is it is open for participants of all ages, giving everyone the chance to enjoy the benefits of healthy competition.
FPM: What advice would you give to the up and coming poomsae athletes of today?
DT: Practice hard but never forget to just enjoy what you are doing. Too many people focus on beating someone else in their division and while winning is nice, it isn’t everything. The end goal has to be improving yourself and gaining the benefits that a lifetime of taekwondo practice will give you both physically and mentally. Work on making yourself better for those reasons and the competition will take care of itself.