Degree of difficulty

Sixty-six-year-old Dean Morin of Currie recently earned his fourth degree black belt. Photo / Per Peterson

Dean Morin wasn’t about to let his age or physical limitations stop him from earning his 4th-degree black belt

By Per Peterson

It would’ve been so easy for Dean Morin to just accept the aging process and all the downfalls that come with it. But that’s not his style.

Serving as an inspiration to all middle-aged men, Morin not only fought through a bad back and eventually a failing hip, he defeated both to climb the Tae Kwon Do ranks. Earlier this year, Morin, who is now 66 and getting ready for hip replacement surgery, earned his fourth-degree black belt with Tracy Tae Kwon Do.

“I’ve had some back troubles while I was taking class, and I dropped out for four years, probably around 2000,” said Morin, who started his martial arts journey at the age of 42. “I was hospitalized with my back and I knew I didn’t want that again, so I started doing press-ups, laying on a bench, and leg lifts, and crunches, about 300 of them. Every other day I would switch off with the arm and leg lifts and the press-ups.”

As he strengthened his back and his core, Morin, who was a black belt when he made the decision to give up Tae Kwon Do, grew more confident that he would be able to return to the mat to pursue bigger things in Tae Kwon Do. But it wasn’t just his improving physical health that opened the door. His granddaughter, Naomi Berglund, also played an inspirational role.

“She was struggling when she was getting into her upper belts,” Morin said. “I started thinking about getting back into it, because she was into it; her uncle was a black belt, too. I would go over to Slayton and work with her. It was a great thing, because she was struggling. When she tested for her black, she sometimes would say, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this.’”

Morin said Berglund was at a point that many students hit as they get closer to their black belt testing.

“It’s tough mentally,” he said. “But I helped her through that. When she tested and broke her boards, that was awesome — it brought tears to my eyes. I was so happy for her.”

And Berglund’s accomplishment, along with his instructional work with other students, has helped Morin in many ways, inspiring him to get to the point he is at now. He continues to teach in Slayton after filling in for instructor Tim Bengston, who suffered an injury after falling on the ice.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.