I decided to study the Martial Arts initially to regain a measure of physical fitness and to pursue an art which was true to the traditions and philosophy of the Martial Arts. I found all of those things and a very great deal more studying with Grand Master Soengkono. His instructional focus goes far beyond that of the physical training, he strives to promote a sense of community, co-operation and teamwork, along with a strong philosophy of good citizenship and genuine concern for others, both within and outside of the school. He ensures that each student is made to feel at home and that they are part of the school. He ensures that each student can train to his or her ability, while promoting their strengths, and motivating them to improve on, and overcome their weaknesses. His school has provided me with a positive environment and has afforded me the opportunity to surround myself with positive people. I have made new friends and increased my level of physical fitness, while becoming more positive and confident in my daily life.
Dale LaFreniere (Student), Thunder Bay
started learning Aikido in 2003, and when I moved to Thunder bay in 2006, I was very happy to discover a place where I could continue my training. Grand Master Soengkono’s dojo has exceeded my expectations. As soon as I walked in the door on the first day, I knew I had found a special place. Grand Master Soengkono has created such a positive, supportive, fun atmosphere at the dojo, and I always look forward to class. He is an expert Aikido practitioner, and his skill continues to amaze me whenever I see him in action. Not only this, but he is a superb teacher: he explains techniques in a clear way, and he seems to perceive exactly what each student needs, in order to build on their own unique strengths and take students beyond their individual limitations. he engages every student personally in order to make them feel a part of the class and at home in the club. His assistant instructors are also excellent. In addition, Grand master Soengkono leads by example in the personal arena: he teaches us not only about Aikido, but also about how to be a better person, and about the skills to succeed in life. I have learned so much from Grand Master Soengkono and look forward very much to continuing my journey with him and the other members of the club.
Dr. Ruth Wilson (Student), Thunder Bay
I came to Soengkono Aikido as a middle-aged father of a 10 year old daughter and a 13 year old son. My daughter and I started together and now my son has joined us. From the beginning, Grand Master Soengkono, the instructors and the students made us feel very welcome. Grand Master Soengkono treats everyone with the greatest respectand is a “master” of making all feel at ease.I continue to be impressed each class with how well he relates to children and adolescents. Grand Master Soengkono teaches not just the “how to” of Aikido, but also the “why”. My children are learning to stop an attack against them in a way that neutralizes the attack while causing as little harm as possible to the attacker. As a parent, I value my children’s learning of this philosophy even more than their learning of the martial skills. We look forward to Grand Master Soengkono’s continued instruction in this martial art and in his own unique “art of living.”
Dan Newton (Lawyer), Thunder Bay
I joined Soengkono Martial Arts to improve my physical health and to continue on with my goal of further connecting my mind and body. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, which affects my lower extremities, and that sometimes means I have to find ways that are more unique than others to accomplish my goals. Martial Arts has always been an area that I wanted to explore, and Grand Master Song helps me find a way to achieve that goal, without sacrificing the integrity of the art. The moment I entered into GM Song’s Dojo it was apparent that this was a place of great respect, tremendous positive energy, and a rare opportunity to learn from someone who has traveled the world in pursuit of his arts. He dedicates each day to his students and imparts not just a physical understanding of the art of self defense, but also an emphasis on the preservation of life; a life that includes self-discipline, respect, and family values, taught in a way that only worldly Master Song can deliver. He creates a hunger for knowledge and a sense of wonder that makes all your efforts so gratifying on many levels. He has students that have studied with him for 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years, showing up time after time, with an unwavering enthusiasm. It’s an enthusiasm that is purely contagious, and it keeps me coming back
Mr. Morgan Austin, Thunder Bay
I first met Grandmaster Song through one of his long time student Marc Heinrich who I met through work. As he knows that I have some martial background, he invited me over that night to his dojo & to meet his teacher. As soon as I entered the dojo , the feeling of such good energy came through me [ I’ve been in the arts for 47 years on & off] that I seldom experience & I told it to Marc. Marc introduced me to the Grandmaster & we had a wonderful conversation regarding the arts & life in general. At the end of our conversation, he invited me to practice if I ever come back to Thunder Bay. Two weeks after our first meeting, I was sent back again to finish the work project. I told Marc that I’ll be there to take a class. When I arrived in the dojo, Grandmaster Song greeted me with his infectious smile & warm hospitality. His students were very gracious in accepting me & to practice with them. Adrian, the GM’s senior student introduced me to the class & showed me how they do it & was very helpful. Grandmaster Song’s precise way of teaching his students were thorough & with care. I came out of the dojo knowing that Grandmaster Song not only teaches the arts but also builds good character which I noticed through his students & I am proud to be one of them. This dojo truly is the hidden jewel of the north. Thank you again for the warmest hospitality that you have shown me as a man, a teacher and a great representative of your culture.
Danny Pigon (Aikikai-Aikido Black belt), Thunder Bay
I have been learning Aikido from Grand Master Soengkono since 2009. I started with no experience in Aikido and very little in other martial arts, but the entire Aikido group from instructors to the newest members is patient, kind and encouraging. Learning in such a positive environment is a joy. No matter what type of person you are: shy, outgoing, intense or relaxed, as long as you are respectful, you are accepted. Not only do we learn open-hand, jo and sword techniques but we learn to laugh at ourselves, develop greater compassion for others, and build self-confidence. Grand Master Soengkono is particularly gifted in his ability to read people. He has a truly compassionate heart, and the wisdom and insight to know when to push a student and when to hold back. The things I have learned through Aikido and Grand Master Soengkono, about myself and about human nature are vast and wonderful; simple and yet profound. A slight change to a movement or technique opens up a multitude of opportunities. A concept, once grasped, clarifies and expands our points of view from the personal to the universal. Suddenly, we realize that Aikido is relevant to all aspects of our lives, from how we stand up for ourselves to how we treat each other, from conflict prevention to conflict resolution, and from developing personal goals to the journey(s) we take to achieve these goals. Grand Master Soengkono also brings an amazing combination of martial arts to his school. Not only does he teach Aikido, but also Tae Kwon Do, Pentjak Silat, and Tai Chi Chuan. When we learn Aikido, we learn it with a touch of Pentjak Silat. This training is unique to Grand Master Soengkono. It is Aikido plus this little something extra that we can pull out of our back pocket if we need it. Without a doubt, I have found training in Aikido with Grand Master Soengkono to be a phenomenally rewarding experience that has changed my life for the better. I could not give a higher recommendation for a martial arts school.
Michelle Blahuta, Thunder Bay
have been practicing martial arts for many years and here in Thunder Bay I had the rare opportunity to train in a Ryu (school) where the true philosophy and tradition of martial arts have been preserved. This dojo provided a peaceful, safe and respectful environment you can feel as you step inside. Master Song gave me the tools I needed to go on with my martial arts career. His unique skill and approach taught me more than just technique: with a contagious smile he welcomed me like a son, gave me his time and helped me to peacefully unify the body and mind. This journey took me to a higher level, both as a martial artist and as a human being. Master Song can feel each of his students and understand their levels. It helped me to breathe, walk and behave Aiki (harmonization of inner energy). His great experience is carried through all of his students and it’s a great honor to have been trained by master such as Grand Master Song. He leads by example, teaches with passion and is truly dedicated. Now I am returning home with new tools and the heart full of joy. Special thanks to Adrien, whose knowledge was way above my expectation. He is a spectacular communicator and a respectful man that I admire. Thanks to every student who shared with me this unspeakable passion that is Aikido, and who treated me like one of their own.
Louis Olivier Beauchamp, Aikibudo and Kobudo Brown Belt
First, I will begin with Master’s technical abilities, they are of the highest caliber. They are practical, efficient, safe and effective. His teachings to date have been consistent with everything I have been taught in the past, he does not deviate from his traditional teachings and maintains the Tae Kwon Do lineage and discipline which has been taught to him. Technical skills are important to the teachings of Tae Kwon Do, but one must also have the teaching skills too, he definitely has them. Master is a great leader and coach, he is right beside you doing drills with you and constantly pushing you to be your greatest. Master is constantly surveying the class, looking for negatives and positives, he will correct the negatives in private and praise your skills in front of the class. The definition of a mentor is, “a wise and trusted counselor and teacher”. He is a great martial arts mentor, but also a great life mentor and role model. He is an intelligent, personable and wise man; he is what every student should strive to be. He is constantly conveying his martial art, education and life philosophies, which happen to be pacifist and positive in nature. Master shapes and guides each of his students to be productive and conscientious human beings, which causes his classes to be nothing but positive and productive. I have seen him numerous times giving the children lectures on anti-bullying topics and engaging with them at the appropriate level. When I have children I will completely entrust them in Master’s capable hands. I have discussed at great length all of Master’s capabilities and philosophies as a teacher, but I also consider him to be a friend. There has been numerous nights where we have spent hours discussing life, martial arts and any topic that came up. He is genuinely interested in your well-being, mental health and physical health. I find him to be very approachable, friendly and have a great sense of humour. I know for a fact that Master has made me a better Tae Kwon Do practitioner, firefighter and human being. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed if you take any of his classes.
Robert Sheppard, City of Thunder Bay Firefighter
Our son Justin began taking Tae Kwon Do in 1996 when he was 8 years old. In 2005, Justin earned his Black Belt and now helps out at the school as an assistant instructor. Our younger son, Adam who has Down Syndrome was invited to join in the classes with his father (at the ripe young age of 51) in 2003 by Grand Master Song. Adam’s participation in class was the result of strong encouragement and support by Grand Master Song in recognizing Adam’s potential in achieving success as a member of the supportive community of the school which emphasizes friendship, respect, courtesy, mental focus and self confidence in a positive and interactive learning environment. Grand Master Song through his teachings and the philosophy of the Tae Kwon Do tradition has demonstrated great compassion, consideration and admiration for Adam and Justin and all of the students and their families. His teaching goes beyond encouraging students to achieve skills and physical fitness through the techniques and traditions of the Tae kwon Do Program. Students also achieve success in emotional, intellectual and social development with a strong emphasis on life skills, character development, compassion, goal setting and respect for others at home, in school and in the greater community. The inclusion of Adam in the program, his acceptance by others and Justin’s achievement in attaining his Black Belt have demonstrated the positive and encouraging environment of the school. The advanced physical and mental training in Tae Kwon Do have made a huge difference in our children’s confidence, concentration, performance and achievement levels. It has also had a tremendous effect on their father’s physical, spiritual and mental growth. Our deepest thanks and appreciation go to Grand Master Song and his assistant Master Kurtis Kostamo for truly demonstrating the true meaning of inclusion of special needs individuals in society and welcoming Adam, his brother Justin and their father with open arms and hearts into the school. We strongly recommend this school to anyone considering Martial Arts, whether they are young children, teens or adults.
Larry, Vera, Justin, and Adam Betuzzi, Thunder Bay
…A martial arts grand master in Thunder Bay who is also truly world class. He is the inspirational leader of the Soengkono World Class martial Arts School…his credentials are impressive: 9th Dan Grandmaster in Tae Kwon Do, 6th degree black belt in Aikido and Jujutsu from Japan, a Grand Master in Indonesian Pencak Silat, was Combat Instructor to the Indonesian Army; SWAT and Riot Police, but it’s his approach and attitude in the classroom and that of his instructors…that provide an experience that is truly moving. He preaches the gospel of courtesy, respect, perseverance, mental focus and an “I can” attitude. His approach toward the teaching of Martial Arts combined with Life Skills could serve as a lesson that every student in Lakehead’s Faculty of Education should attend. We are most fortunate to have him here in Thunder Bay.
Rick Smith, "One Man's Opinion," July 13, 2006
Our child has been taking Tae Kwon Do lessons since she was six and the benefits we feel are multifold. They include better health, knowledge of self-defense, and a stronger emotional and spiritual self. We very much appreciate also Grand master Song’s positive approach to his teaching such that students are never fearful about making mistakes. The result is that students feel committed to their chosen martial art and the njoyment level is enhanced. One unusual and highly beneficial aspect of Grand Master Song’s school is the fact that it offers a range of martial arts training. There are a few martial artists who are experts in both Tae Kwon Do and other martial arts such as Aikido and Tai Chi as is Grand Master Song. We also appreciate the fact that Grand Master Song is accomplished as an individual outside the realm of martial arts, being a talented artistand someone who has several post-secondary qualifications. He instills in his students commitment not only to the physical, but also intellectual pursuits. Finally, as with all good martial arts schools, the focus is on determination, integrity and courage. these are the values the school strives to encourage and these are the values the school teaches can be incorporated successfully in the lives of all the students of the school regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, disability or any other such difference which under other circumstances unfortunately divides people.
Dr. Sonya and Roshen Grover (Parents), Thunder Bay
Quite simply. TAEKWONDO has been one of the best learning experiences in my son’s life. Grand Master Song and his instructors are amazing teachers and role models. They challenge every student to grow physically and mentally in an atmosphere of safety and mutual respect. They teach far more than physical strength and skill; they also model self-confidence, self-awareness, integrity and compassion. I am indebted to a friend who recommend these classes to us, and it is now my pleasure to pass on the recommendation to others. It is one of the best decisions we ever made.
Dr. Margaret McKee (Parent), Professor Lakehead University
Since our two boys began training, I have attended the majority of their classes and the quality of the instruction they receive is outstanding. The teaching staff have a great deal of skill and talent which they are able to successfully impart to the students. Of equal, if not more, importance, I noted the emphasis that you and your instructors place upon self discipline and respect both inside and outside the dojang. Appropriate, if notexceptional behavior is expected at home and at school. My children are receiving training in how to be successful, not only in martial arts, but in life. The skills they are learning promote high values, high standards, and high personal goals. They are encouraged to be the bestpeople they can possibly be. Their talents and hard work are always rewarded and praised and their shortcomings are never ridiculed. Soengkono Martial Arts School has significantly raised the self-esteem of both our children and is setiing the groundwork for an approach to life that can only result in success. master Song instills a great desire to excel in all aspects of life, and has a true talent for motivating his students. He is approachable, supportive, generous, and a lethal weapon. The best part of all is that he makes learning so much fun.
Constable Craig Town and Family, Thunder Bay
When I first started training with Grand Master Song he told me that he teaches teachers. It took me some time to understand what he meant by that. It means, among other things, that teaching people only how to fight is insufficient, and that teaching people why fighting is sometimes necessary leads to greater skill, understanding and character development. From this perspective, the martial art becomes a form of conflict resolution, and each art he teaches – aikido, tae kwon do, pentjak silat, tai chi – is a different facet of that central idea. Grand Master Song also teaches that while martial arts training will certainly make students better at self-defence, the deeper and more important purpose of the training is to come to know oneself and experience personal growth. To do this, he teaches balance. If you are quick to judge, he will teach you to first observe without judgment; if you are shy, he will lead you towards self-confidence; if you are arrogant or vain, he will emphasize humility and respect for others. In mastering ourselves, he teaches, we come to feel compassion for others. I have certainly found training with Master Song to be a worthwhile experience, and would not hesitate to recommend his school to anyone.
Lee Sieswerda, B.Ed., M.Sc., Epidemiologist and Professor at Lakehead University
Grandmaster Soengkono has without a doubt had an enormous positive impact on my life. Having trained under Grandmaster in Taekwondo since I was 8 years old, earning a rank of black stripe, I can attest to world class martial arts and self defence training provided by Grandmaster and his team. However, Grandmaster’s teachings go beyond the Dojang and into the classroom, the school yard, the office and life itself, and these are what I carry with me today. Grandmaster’s life teachings and character development principles made a lasting impact on me when I was young, first by fostering confidence and self esteem at a vulnerable age when I struggled with bullying and childhood insecurities were the norm. As I matured I began to take to heart the character principles Grandmaster teaches. Principles like integrity, perseverance, respect, modesty, and compassion. I have carried these teachings throughout my life and throughout life’s challenges and truly credit them to the person I am today. Grandmaster Soengkono is a phenomenal human being. I am blessed I was able to foster a relationship with him and I am honoured today to call him my friend. I wholeheartedly endorse the training and education provided by him and his team at Song Martial Arts.
Mario Nucci, MD, Thunder Bay
Please accept this letter of recommendation for the skills and experience of Grandmaster Soengkono who has made a very significant mark in Thunder Bay’s martial arts community. As a member of the Martial Arts Council Grandmaster Soengkono is part of the fraternity that has made us recognized as the Martial Arts Capital of Canada. His school has been a major contribution to this earned reputation. He has taught and inspired thousands of students (of all ages) in many disciplines of the martial arts attesting to his expansive knowledge and ability to cross-train. This is important because of the need to combine aggressive and passive uses of self-defence and defusing of belligerent behaviours. He is very much a leader and the kind of teacher who indeed practises what he teaches. Considering the scope of his community involvement (including PRO Kids), lifelong learning, and physical and mental fitness he is a stellar example of being what he inspires in others. I am fortunate to have known Grandmaster over many years and can verify his commitment to youth and to the betterment of our community. Without a doubt Grandmaster Soengkono excels in instruction and has demonstrated this attribute at the highest levels. Thus I do offer my name as a long-time practitioner of the martial arts and as the President of the Northern American Chen Tai Chi Association.
Ken Boschoff (City Councillor), Thunder Bay
I have had the devastating misfortune, the esteemed honor, and the haunting tragedy, of meeting many people who walk the path of life and death in this conflict ridden world of ours. However, upon the fated occasion of meeting others amid the scenario of training I became remarkably aware of a person who by his gentle gaze and humble benevolence, exuded strength beyond that which I have ever experienced in any of my international moments. By chance our meeting had happened, or was it by fate, I was to embrace a learning experience beyond my prior remembrances? While in the presence of this venerated colleague I became clearly and respectfully aware that I had the honor of meeting in my life, one of the worlds, greatest disciples of combative technique understanding. My skills and techniques that I displayed in the presence of this unassuming and gentle man were absorbed, my words and thoughts were considered, and amid his vast background of experience based knowledge, he shared moments with me that I shall never forget… His words impacted my thoughts while the silence between us was deafening with long-ago reflections. After having written five books about the experiences of my life, and obtained two doctorate degrees, survived the worlds war zones, taught the officers of over sixty nations, I had suddenly and respectfully become the student of the humble, kind, and combatively insightful, Grand Master Song. May his life be long, because he has so very much to contribute to so many…
Dr. Robert R. Rail, Surviving the International War Zone
I have been a student of Grand Master Song and his school for over fifteen years and his guidance and instruction have given me the confidence, skills, and abilities to complete my duties as a police officer efficiently and effectively given any situation. Grand Master Song teaches teachers. His careful attention to detail and hands on instruction with his students ensures that the essence and spirit of Aikido is transmitted directly from master to student. I am honoured to recommend Grand Master Song and his school for you or your child.
Terry Pentney (RCMP Officer), Thunder Bay
I have known GrandMaster Soengkono through community organizations and his contributions to youth and adult members in the City of Thunder Bay. GrandMastser Soengkono is a strong supporter of the youth in our community as evidenced by the success and continued growthn of students who have attended the Soengkono dojo. I continue to be impressed with GrandMastser Soengkono’s integrity, work ethic, community spirit and his grace. It is an honor to know GrandMastser Soengkono and I do not hestitate in offering my full praise and support for GrandMaster with respect to future instruction expansion, particularly in the training of law enforcement.
Keith Hobbs, Mayor, City of Thunder Bay
I have known Master Soengkono for the past nine years. During that period I have attended his annual celebration dinner and met many of his students. The comments from students and parents relative to the instruction they receive in the martial arts is worthy of note. More importantly the life lessons learned by the students must be taken into consideration. I am truly impressed with the calibre of his teaching methods, his communication with his students, the respect shown to him as an individual, the passion he leaves with his students and the benefits the students gain as an overall individual. His personal philosophy of life is carried through to his teachings and his work with his students. Many students return year after year and you can actually see their growth as young men and young women. We are fortunate to have an individual like Master Soengkono in our community who gives so much to develop young minds and young people. He also draws on his older students to achieve greater heights than they have done previously. I understand that Master Soengkono is extending his teaching to the police and security forces. They will be most fortunate to have him as a resource person and teacher.
Rebecca Johnson, Councillor at Large, City of Thunder Bay
Our son and young daughter have been enjoying Tae Kwon Do for some time. Grand Master Song along with his dedicated and skilled senior instructors provide exceptional training not only in the martial art form itself but also in self defense. The benefits however extend far beyond the physical. The school instills traditional wisdom and values in students and blends this with modern strategies for self improvement and achievement in any endeavor. Courtesy, respect, self discipline and control are all reinforced. The Grand Master’s teachings sharpen the ability to focus and concentrate on any task and students are encouraged to achieve academically and to strive for excellence in all pursuits. In addition to the development of valuable life skills, we have witnessed a steady evolution of a quiet inner confidence in our children. We genuinely appreciate the opportunity to participate in the technique and unparalleled experience offered by Grand Master Song.
Dr. Peter and Shelley Jacobson, Thunder Bay
I started learning Aikido in 2003, and when I moved to Thunder bay in 2006, I was very happy to discover a place where I could continue my training. Grand Master Soengkono’s dojo has exceeded my expectations. As soon as I walked in the door on the first day, I knew I had found a special place. Grand Master Soengkono has created such a positive, supportive, fun atmosphere at the dojo, and I always look forward to class. He is an expert Aikido practitioner, and his skill continues to amaze me whenever I see him in action. Not only this, but he is a superb teacher: he explains techniques in a clear way, and he seems to perceive exactly what each student needs, in order to build on their own unique strengths and take students beyond their individual limitations. he engages every student personally in order to make them feel a part of the class and at home in the club. His assistant instructors are also excellent. In addition, Grand master Soengkono leads by example in the personal arena: he teaches us not only about Aikido, but also about how to be a better person, and about the skills to succeed in life. I have learned so much from Grand Master Soengkono and look forward very much to continuing my journey with him and the other members of the club