ITF America’s DEI Committee Co-Chair Dr. Olga Shurchkov interviews Grandmaster Ruben Suarez and the members of his family in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month September 22, 2021.

From September 15 to October 15, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month which is meant to highlight the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success. There is no doubt that this description fits no one better than Grandmaster Suarez.

Grandmaster Suarez is a pioneer of Taekwon-Do in the United States. He opened his Queens Taekwon-Do Center in Queens, NY, in 1992, bringing not only his vast knowledge and passion for the martial art that started in the 1970s in his native Cali, Colombia, but also his tireless dedication to the development of his

neighborhood and community. The members of his family – his wife, Ms. Gloria Rodriguez (VI Dan) and his children, Ms. Claudia Suarez (V Dan), Ms. Lorena Suarez (III Dan), Ms. Stephanie Suarez (III Dan), and Mr. Ruben Jr. (I Dan) – have also all been deeply involved in the Taekwon-Do way of life and the work of community building though teaching and mentoring young people.

I met GM Suarez in 2011, and he welcomed my instructor, myself, and other students training independently with us into his Do-Jang and into his life without any hesitation. Since then, I’ve had the great honor to have GM Suarez test and promote me to the ranks of IV and V Dan, and more recently join him on the Board of ITF America. It brings me great pleasure to have this opportunity to share with the world his wisdom, generosity of spirit, and knowledge through this interview.

As a preview, I wanted to highlight this inspiring quote from the end of our conversation:

“Doing any kind of activity, whether it is Taekwon-Do or anything else, as long as you are constant in what you are doing, I believe you will develop certain qualities – physically, mentally, and psychologically – but it can only be obtained through perseverance. A lot of people talk ‘I want to do this, I want to do that’, but they don’t start. So we look up at the mountain, but to get to the top is really what’s difficult. But when we take that first step, we realize that with each step the top of the mountain gets a little closer. It’s just a matter of time. So we only reach it through perseverance. So,

I invite all of you to start. … If it is ITF Taekwon-Do, it would be the best decision you will ever make.” – GM Suarez.

Thanks to the impeccable translating work by Ms. Claudia Suarez, the interview can be heard in both English and Spanish. Taekwon!