Rondy McKee was living in Detroit, working in advertising during the day and managing and teaching as the co-owner of a Martial Arts school in the evening. But her life changed and her dedication and training paid off.
My Master introduced me to a variety of Korean Martial Arts videotapes, my favorites of course being the videos featuring the Korean Tigers.
One day my Master told me to prepare for a trip to Korea the following year. He was interested in the possibility of hiring a Korean Tiger since he planned on retiring soon. He also wanted me to learn some of the advanced demonstration techniques the Tigers were so famous for. He informed me that I would have the opportunity to train in a Taekwondo and Hapkido doe-jahng with other Korean students.
I had been to Korea several years earlier and I thought I knew what to expect. I was able to cut back my work hours and spend the afternoons with a private trainer for the next six months.
Finally, we arrived in Korea in January of 1994 and found our way to the old Ji-Do-Kwan building in Seoul. The Tigers were finishing try-outs and preparing for their ’94 tour to the U.S.
I was quickly informed that I would not be able to watch the Tigers, and that I would have to put my video camera away. Fortunately, my Master was very high ranking and was able to find a way to meet the Tigers.
The next thing I knew, my Master was telling me to put on my doe-boke, that the only way I was getting in was to participate in auditions.
When I saw the degree of skill and level of training of the Tigers, I was thankful for all the extra preparation I had already taken, but knew that nothing could have fully prepared me for this. I considered turning around and running. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I could not embarrass my Master, and I really did want some autographs from the Tigers.
The Tigers were at a level of excellence that I didn’t even know existed. They showed me newer, faster and more effective techniques.
After the first day, I was asked to come back, and continued to do so for the next month.
Training with the Tigers is something you can never really be prepared for. Training would begin at 10:00 sharp in the morning and would continue until the late evening hours.
Korea is very cold in January. The buildings do not have central heat, but are heated by kerosene heaters. The kerosene heaters are incapable of heating an entire building so they are placed very close to the people. At restaurants, a heater is placed next to each table. In the doe-jahng the heater was placed only in the office, not in the training room. The heat would have been wasted in the training room anyway since most of the glass panes were broken. We would dress in layers, including shoes and gloves. The first two hours were for running kicks. You could see your breath with every yell.
After running kicks we would do sports massage and then stretching. The Tiger poom-say was practiced for hours, again and again, striving for unison.
The Taekwondo mat was located on the ground floor and the Hapkido mat was located on the second floor. The Hapkido mat was actually straw with canvas stretched over top. The Tigers would practice gymnastics and the big jumps on this floor because the ceiling was higher.
To prepare for the tour we would sometimes train in different locations and even at different altitudes.
Korea is covered with mountains and they are a great place for training. Behind Yong-in University is a mountain chain consisting of seven peaks. The last mountain has a steep drop and there are thick ropes permanently attached to rappel down the side. The Tigers use this as a warm-up.
In the weeks before touring, the Tigers live together, sleep together, eat together, breathe together. All this is done to get everyone in sync. Their performance requires trust and timing that is vital to each member’s well being. Some of the stunts involve members flipping 19 feet in the air.
When the Tigers did go on tour, they asked me to accompany them. I was ever appreciative for my incredible adventure, but didn’t take the offer seriously. I returned home.
I should have known that my life could never be the same. I was spoiled. After training with the Tigers, I couldn’t go back to my old style. I was also disappointed that Americans were not able to receive the kind of training that I had received in Korea. In all my experience, I had never seen a U.S. school teaching such a style.
I still was not convinced at their offer to join them – until they sent me an airplane ticket to meet them mid-tour in Seattle. That was the push I needed to make the decision. I closed my business, turned the Martial Arts school over to my senior student, put my house and cars up for sale and got on the airplane.
My original plan to stay for one year. After some time on the team, a new member joined the team. We ended up getting married later that year and I decided to stay for another year. (the marriage did not last, but my dream continued on).
During my two years in Korea I learned not only training techniques, but valuable insight into the Korean culture. Together with the Tigers, I created a vision for an American Martial Arts school that would fill a void.
This new school would be able to offer the traditional culture and education that only a Korean Master could offer due to a lifetime of training. It would also provide customer service and programs that Americans are accustomed to through the use of an American manager. The school would remain true to tradition but at the same time not turn its back on cutting edge techniques.
I returned to America only to learn that this vision would not be embraced by the older Masters. In the spirit of teaching quality Martial Arts, and the belief that all students are entitled to top quality instructors, I pursued my goal.
White Tiger of Cary was established in January 1996, and serves as a model and Headquarters for the current and future White Tiger schools in America.
In a short time, White Tiger had earned the respect and admiration of the Martial Arts community. As a result of the top-notch combination of instruction and professional business atmosphere, the school has gained incredible popularity and recognition. The school has used its success to benefit local charities, and has became involved in local communities. When they are not teaching classes, the Masters use their influence to speak at the schools and community centers, motivating the children to set and pursue goals, with the power of believing in themselves.”
Rondy McKee is also a KUKKIWON Certified Testing Judge #3017054 and offers assistance in helping others obtain KUKKIWON certification through the Taekwondo Organization of Professionals.
About Rondy McKee
Rondy McKee’s first career success was in marketing and advertising. She is now a 7th degree black belt and operates a 24,000 sq. ft. custom designed superschool in North Carolina. A former K-Tigers Pro team member, she is a columnist for Taekwondo Times and serves as the Director for the Taekwondo Organization of Professionals through Kukkiwon and she is one of only 2 people in the United States who has KUKKIWON certification as a Testing Judge. She is KUKKIWON Certified Testing Judge #3017054.
DEGREES & CERTIFICATIONS • 7th Degree Black Belt World Taekwondo Federation/KUKKIWON • 7th Degree Black Belt The World Taekwon Moodo Federation • 6th Degree Black Belt Korean Hapkido Federation • 4th Degree Black Belt World Pro Taekwondo Federation • 3rd Degree Black Belt Ji-Do-Kwan • 2nd Degree Muay Thai Kickboxing • International WTF Poomsae Referee • Certified Instructor • Certified: Yoga Instructor • Certified: Fitness Instructor • Certified: Feng Shui Consultant • Private student of Sifu Samuel Kwok and the Ip Man Lineage of Wing Chun • Private student of Dragon Society International “Martial Science” • Student, Acupressure – Graduation set for summer 2015 • KUKKIWON Certified Testing Judge #3017054
TITLES & APPOINTMENTS • Speaker/Presenter: Martial Arts Supershow, Las Vegas (since 2010) • Speaker/Presenter: KAMA, Korean American Martial Arts Association, Chicago & las Vegas (since 2012) • Speaker/Presenter: (scheduled) Korean Martial Arts Festival, Florida (April 2015) • Speaker/Presenter: (scheduled) World Leader’s Forum, Seoul, Korea (August 2015) • Master of the Year 2012, Taekwondo Times Magazine • School of the Year 2011, Taekwondo Times Magazine • Owner of White Tiger Taekwondo & Martial Arts, Cary NC and various licensed schools • Decree/Kukkiwon • Advisory Board Kukkiwon • Taekwondo U.S. Ambassador to Korea – Olympic 2000 Sydney Games Rules and Regulations Committee World Leaders Seminar, Kukkiwon • Graduate – Kukkiwon Taekwondo Instructor’s Academy • Black Belt of the Year ‘92 by U.S. Taekwondo Ji Do Kwan Association • Taekwondo, Hapkido Instructor Dong Yang Doejahng, Korea • 40 Under 40 Business Leaders Hall of Fame 2004 • Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization (YEO) • Martial Arts Professional MAgazine Cover 2006 • Co-Director Olympic and Open Style Taekwondo events at 2008 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic • Taekwondo Times cover March 2008 • sHERO award, Skirt Magazine September 2009 • Taekwondo Times cover March 2010 • MA Success Magazine cover October 2005 • MA Success Magazine cover April 2012 • Inducted into Martial Arts Hall of Honors 2011 • Goodwill Ambassador to Martial Arts 2012-2014 • Inducted into Martial Arts Hall of Fame 2012 • Inducted into Karate Hall of Fame 2013 • “Excellence in Teaching Martial Arts” 2015
CHARITY • Founder of White Tiger Community Cares Program benefiting At-Risk Youth, working with the local Police Department toward youth gang avoidance • Recipient “Community Service Award” Cary Chamber of Commerce • Organizing Committee for the White Tiger 5K fun run for charity, Bond Park
PROFESSIONAL MARTIAL ARTS WORK EXPERIENCE • Columnist, Taekwondo Times Magazine “East Meets West” • Columnist, Taekwondo Times Magazine “Business Section” • Webinar Instructor, Kicksite Martial Software • Developer White Tiger MD – Management Development, mentor service for Martial Arts schools • Bodyguard, Senator Dodd, Governor Hunt • Actor in two episodes of Zen Beauty: A Syndicated TV Series • Product Model, Tiger Claw • Lived for 2 years in Korea as part of the Korean Tigers Professional Demonstration Team (only Non-Asian team member) • Former co-owner/ Manager /Senior Instructor Tiger Chung’s Total Fitness Center • Director: TOP Taekwondo Organization of Professionals, per request of Kukkiwon to assist US schools in Dan Certification.
To learn more about Master Rondy McKee and White Tiger Taekwondo & Martial Arts visit their listing on the Martial Arts Schools and Businesses Directory at FindADojo.com by click on the image on the left.