Youngest black belt recipients

Impressive: Macie Vitale and Paul Bonnici presented with their black belts by a Rhee Taekwondo founder Master Chong Hyup Rhee. photographs supplied




THE senior class at Rhee Thompson Valley at the Tyers Community Hall has two new, young entrants, after they received black belt honours for Rhee Taekwondo.

Paul Bonnici and Macie Vitale, who are both just 12-years-old, became the youngest students in Victoria to receive their black belts in Rhee Taekwondo.

The pair were presented with their black belts by one of the founders of Rhee Taekwondo, Master Chong Hyup Rhee, at the final Thompson Valley grading of 2022.

Upon achieving his black belt, Paul spoke on his Taekwondo experience so far.

“I’ve enjoyed my journey in becoming a black belt,” he said.

“It’s made me more confident about being in front of other people. It’s helped me become more fit, flexible and agile.”

Fellow recipient Macie exclaimed how she was also proud of herself.

“I’m so proud of challenging myself, breaking out of my comfort zone to be rewarded with this achievement is such an honour,” she said.

“Taekwondo has given me so much confidence and I hope that other young girls can see that martial arts (is) not just a boys sport. All girls should have the confidence to stand up and protect themselves.”

Both Paul and Macie began their Rhee Taekwondo story back in 2016, lasting a six-year journey to reach the highest belt honour.

After receiving their first Dan on their black belts, the pair will continue to work towards achieving more Dans in the future.

Dedication played a massive part in Paul and Macie’s success, as the pair trained multiple times per week at Tyers Community Hall, to work their way up to the senior class.

Both Paul and Macie have either siblings or parents who train alongside them, and the Dojang is described as having a community spirit and a family-friendly atmosphere.

“I love the welcoming feeling at Tyers Dojang, we all get along. It’s all about improving yourself,” Paul said.

Run by KJN Jo Rowson, she has loved watching students flourish, grow and mature at the Dojang, while she is extremely proud and honoured to see Paul and Macie achieve their black belts under her tutelage.

If you would like to join Rhee Thompson Valley, get in touch with KJN Jo Rowson on 0427 558 444, or visit the Rhee Thompson Valley Facebook page for more information on signing up and training sessions.

Power: Macie Vitale shows her style.
Balance: Paul Bonnici demonstrates how it’s done.