Memorial to 3rd Degree Black Belt Mr. David Curtis
His story in the martial arts -- from my perspective -- Master Erik Kluzek
Mr. David Curtis was the main instructor over the Basement TKD classes, until he passed away on January 21st, 2008. Mr Curtis was a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Schools (TCS). He trained for seven years in California before moving to Colorado. He trained in the martial arts for 14 years. He also trained for 5 years in Kung Fu. He was certified in first aid, CPR and AED by the American Heart Association. Mr Curtis completed Black Belt Leadership Academy 2006, an intensive one-day course in martial arts instruction.
Mr Curtis always put his utmost energy into his classes. He was an extremely dedicated student and always put his entire effort when demonstrating techniques for students. At the same time he was very patient, compassionate and understanding working with beginners.
Mountain View TKD
David started his martial arts training at the Mountain View School of Tae Kwon Do in Mountain View California in 1994. He trained under Master Mike Conboy, and after years of consistent training and hard-work he earned his first degree black belt from the Chung Do Kwan Alliance in Sep. 23, 2000, under 7th Degree Master Don Richardson of Flagstaff AZ.
Move to Colorado -- UCAR TKD
Soon afterwords, in 2001, David moved to Colorado, where he connected with my class UCAR TKDwhich was being taught at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He came to the evening classes as often as he could which was very consistent. I was impressed with his ability, power and commitment. He worked hard and always tried to learn and do better. Sometimes Black Belts forget that they are students too and forget to work and develop. Not David, he worked hard at keeping his skill up as well as learning more both physically and mentally.
In March 2004 he tested to his 2nd Degree Black Belt, from Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Schools under 9th Degree Grandmaster Dong Hoon Kim in Tucson Arizona. I was fortunate to watch and participate in his test, and was very proud of his work and accomplishment.
In November of 2004 Dave started new classes in his basement -- basement-TKD. He started teaching a few friends and work colleagues and had a small -- but very enthusiastic -- group of students. His first student was his sweetheart Sandy Priest. David did a very good job with his students, he paid close attention to them, and helped them to improve. Sometimes martial artists teach -- in order to show-off to students. But David put the students needs first. He was patient and careful with them and didn't overwhelm them (Sandy interjects that this wasn't the case when free-sparring! ;-) But, as a fellow instructor I'm sure this was helping students to do more than they thought they could.)). He was also encouraging and helpful. One way to judge an instructor is to look at their students -- and David's students are all fine upcoming martial artists. Pictures a test of of one of his students Swasti testing to yellow belt test from December 2005 are here.
Colorado Blue Wave Martial Arts
In Sept 2005 he became one of the five founding members of Colorado Blue Wave Martial Arts, which is a non-profit organization for teaching the martial arts in Colorado. David wanted to teach -- to contribute to the community and to help -- not to make money. David was elected President by the board of directors. In November of 2007 he switched positions to Treasurer. David did a good job on the board and his opinion was listened to. He was also instrumental in helping and organizing COBWAMA Summer Camp 2006, as well as Rockies Kick 2007, and all of the seminars we had with Master Kim. He and Sandy became the "King and Queen of T-shirts" and designed and developed the T-shirts for all of our events. I have just loved the shirts they have done and was always impressed with their efforts in that regard.
Understanding the meaning of Black Belt
In our advanced curriculum I list attributes that Black Belts should strive for.
David was exemplary in all of these attributes both in his dedication to the martial arts and in his personal life. One of the things I was especially impressed with is that he understood what it means to be a black-belt.
Getting sick and advancing to 3rd Dan
Before Rockies Kick 2007 David was already ill, and he wasn't able to participate much. But, he came, had a good attitude and took pictures of events as well as participating in the forms clinic, and in discussions. Shortly afterwards he had to have surgery, and a complication of the surgery was a blood-clot to his liver. The liver failed, and eventually the kidneys went into temporary failure, and the only way to save him was a liver-transplant. But he continued to have infection and wasn't able to qualify for a transplant. The doctors finally had nothing more they could do for him, and he was sent home with Hospice care on Thursday, January 17, to enjoy his last days in the comfort of his own home.
On January 18th 2008 he was advanced to 3rd Degree Black Belt. It was my utmost privilege and honor to give him his certificate and shake his hand in congratulations for this representing both Colorado Blue Wave Martial Arts and Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Schools. The required time for advancement from 2nd to 3rd is 3 years and David exceeded that by almost a year. Personally I wanted him to advance sooner and we talked about having him advance last November. Even though I felt he was ready -- he was reluctant to advance. But, he had worked hard on his forms, kept training, had started teaching students all of whom were doing excellent. I had just been looking through past pictures of David and found the different seminars he went to, and was impressed with his form and technique. In a critique I did of his forms in 2005 I said
"Good power, speed, focus. Good eye focus. Good focus, power and speed within techniques. Nice, snap with sang-soo".
So although the official certificate will have to say "Honorary" (because he was unable to do the physical requirements) -- in my mind and heart David was a full fledged and well deserving 3rd Degree Black Belt. And we congratulate him in spirit and rejoice in his achievement in Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan.
I was honored to be able to make that presentation to David last Friday at his home -- before he passed away. I was again impressed with his character when he didn't want us to do that. I literally had to convince him he deserved it, and it was something I wanted for him long beforehand. I recently had a phone call from someone who wanted to become black belt as quick as possible. In contrast we have David who had high standards and lived as a black-belt -- not just around his waist -- but in his heart and mind as well; and did his best to fulfill those high standards and inspired those around him. After we shook hands (in good Korean martial form with his left hand under his elbow) at presenting him with his belt and certificate -- with tears in his eyes David said he was proud to be part of Chung Do Kwan. And David we are indeed all proud you have been part as well.
Comments from folks who knew and trained with David:
Pictures of David
Sandy receives his 3rd Degree Black Belt Certificate
Helping with Student Testing -- (Sep 2006)
COBWAMA Summer Camp at Outdoor Wilderness Adventure Camp -- (August 2006)
Testing out glasses
Goofing Around Inside
Challenge in the Pines Training Seminar -- (Jun 2005?)(photo courtesy of Master Lou Blazquez)
Advancement to 2nd Dan -- (March 2004)
1 Step sparring
How to contribute to his memory.With David's ordeal in the Hospital, it brings home to me the importance of staying healthy, checking in with the Doctor regularly, giving blood, and also being an organ donor.
Although we can't say if David's condition could have been prevented earlier -- we can say that having the doctor check you out and having regular testing done -- is a good thing. David also stayed healthy with his martial art training -- which helped but no one thing will cure everything. Eat right, take supplements, exercise, and see the doctors you need to.
David's condition also brings home the need to give blood. David went through gallons of donated blood through his ordeal -- and it underlines the critical need there is to donate blood to folks. Bonfils is a non-profit organization that helps people give blood in Colorado.
Become an organ donor
Finally, although David wasn't able to take advantage of an organ donation of a liver -- other folks would be able to. Simply by donating organs after your death -- you could save someone that others care for as much as David. Consider checking a yes for organ donation on on your driver licence and let your loved ones know you'd like to do so. More information on organ donation is available from Donate Life America.
The COBWAMA David Curtis Memorial Scholarship fund
We have started a scholarship program to help pay for students in need. See Scholarship Program for more information.
If you have memories, pictures, thoughts, or even corrections that you would like to contribute to this web-site contact Master Erik Kluzek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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