If Kurt Ottesen had used his martial arts skills, as an athlete, official and coach, to do nothing more than travel the world, his career would’ve been deemed a success on that basis alone.
But Ottesen, a taekwon-do master, accomplished so much more than gathering stamps on his passport.
Ottesen, born in March of 1974, began competing in International Taekwon-do Federation events at the age of 12, and got an early taste of winning that would set his competitive standards at a very high level. Ottesen won local tournaments, regional events, provincial medals and earned a spot on the national team – and lots of opportunities to flash his passport.
Ottesen, a fifth-degree black belt working on the rarely-achieved sixth level, has run the gamut of high-level involvement in his sport – a coach and owner of his own taekwon-do school (Freedom Taekwon-do), a competitor at world championships, an official at the highest levels, and a globally-respected coach. His appearances at world championships have taken him to, among other places, Regina, Montreal, Quebec City, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Buenos Aires, Mazatlan, Paraguay, Italy, Germany, Helsinki, Phillipines, Japan, Hong Kong, Colombia, Trinidad, Honduras and Jamaica
“It’s a very prestigious honour being on Team Canada,” Ottesen said before he traveled to St. Petersburg in 1997. “I can’t really explain the feeling you get from knowing you will be representing your country.”
It was Ottesen’s first time competing for Canada, and he was the first British Columbian to battle for this country at the worlds. Ottesen had helped Canada win gold in the team category at the 1996 Pan American Games, and he’d earned his way to the national level by competing in nationals five times by the time he was 22 years old.
As an athlete, Ottesen served as Canada’s captain in 1999 in Argentina. He won gold in the open black belt division in Mazatlan in 2000 and can claim a dozen national titles and two world championships.
As a referee, Ottesen has served as chief referee, including at the 2004 world junior event in Riccone, Italy, and the senior world championships in 2009 in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, and has authored two books for referee training, one of which is used extensively as a pocket guide for taekwon-do officials.
As a coach, he has led his charges to tournaments for all ages, levels and scopes, perhaps the most notable being the 14-student contingent he took to Mexico in March of 2006.