Reprinted from the Taos News (July 31-August 6, 2003)
Teacher attains 7th-degree status
By Cornelia de Bruin, The Taos News
Local taekwondo teacher Daniel Thor has achieved a seventh-degree black belt, and the title of master teacher, after studying the Korean martial art for 31 years.
"I originally started teaching in California; I've taught for 27 years," Thor said. "I was kind of a small-town person when I was a kid, and wanted to leave the San Francisco Bay area because I was getting tired of all the people."
Thor contacted his former pupil, local surgeon Stephen D. Cetrulo, and moved here 22 years ago to work with Cetrulo as a physician assistant.
Taekwondo is the Korean form of the Asian martial arts. As Thor explains it, "Martial arts are like shoes; there are lots of different styles."
Moving through the nine degrees of taekwondo ranks takes a lot of study and practice.
"The movies are great, but what you see is not a lot of what the martial arts are about," Thor said. "Each degree that you achieve has minimum requirements; one is that you hold the rank for as many years as it is numbered."
He was a sixth-degree black belt for seven years before testing in front of his peers during an annual world tournament held in Little Rock, Ark., last June.
"That gave me the seventh degree rank, but the title comes from the association," Thor said.
His students, who are very proud of Thor's achievement, say their lives are enriched simply by the opportunity to spend time with Thor.
Thor is married to Penny and is stepfather to two college students, Matt Laberty, 24, who is studying for his master's degree in computer engineering at University of New Mexico-Las Cruces; and Chip Laberty, 23, who is pursuing his bachelor's degree in computer engineering at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.
© The Taos News 2003