Black Belt by Night

by Rosalyn Graham

From 9 to 5, Gordon White is immersed in the high-tech world of computer networks, high-speed communications, connectivity and security services. At 5 o'clock, he takes off his shoes and steps into a world that is completely focused on fitness, balance and coordination: the world of tae kwon do.

For White, this is moonlighting at its best. "I couldn't imagine not teaching tae kwon do, not being involved in tae kwon do, not living this dream, having this school, being able to teach the students. But I also love technology, love computers; it's something else that I'm excited about. If I didn't have one, I can't say I'd be excited about the other. It's a real balance."

The martial arts passion came first, when his parents enrolled the sixth-grader in a class to learn skills to deal with bullies at school. "From day one I was in love with tae kwon do," he says. By his mid-teens, White was increasingly interested in the competitive side of the sport and became a student of Bruce Twing, who studied the sport while with the military in Korea and was the first tae kwon do master in Vermont.

Tae kwon do took White to Korea the home of the martial art that emphasizes kicks, an acrobatic, exciting sport with a lot of twirling, jumping and spinning to study with Twing's teacher. He came home to win a place on the national team and competed in the World Games in the Hague; the World Cup in Brazil, where he was third; the Japan Open; and at competitions in Canada. He was the only Vermonter ever to be on the national team, though he hopes he won't be the last, now that he is sharing his passion with a new generation of young people at his Blue Wave Tae Kwon Do School.

"I always had in the back of my mind that I would have a tae kwon do school," White says. He had a small school while attending UVM and subsequently spent five years in Boston where he nurtured a career in computer technology and network management. When he and his wife, Calvin Anne a black belt he met at a tae kwon do competition moved back to Vermont, they made the dream of a school a reality. He opened the doors in January 2001.

His work with computer consultants Network Performance sends him out to help clients locally and as far afield as Bellows Falls and Rutland, but White is home in time to open Blue Wave's doors at the top of two very steep flights of stairs at 182 Main St. in Burlington, where 65 students of all ages come for classes Tuesday through Friday evenings and Saturday.

Originally published in July 2004 Business People-Vermont