Margaretville woman becomes karate master

By Pauline Liu
Margaretville karate instructor Terry Bergmann became the area’s first Tang Soo Do karate master last week.

“When they came and put the (master) belt on me, it was a high, because I really worked hard and I knew my forms and nailed them,” she said. “After 17 years, I felt that I earned it,” she added. 
It’s been almost exactly 17 years, since she was awarded her first black belt, which made the front page of the News in January of 1995. Since then, she has earned her second- and third-degree black belts. Her newly awarded rank of master was given to her by the Tang Soo Do Federation, which is based in Jacksonville, FL and headed by Grand Master Song Ki Pak.

Cruising along
Bergmann earned her new rank, while on an instructor’s cruise sponsored by the federation. She tested for her master’s belt on board the Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas as it sailed from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Cozumel, Mexico. She was one of 30 karate masters and master candidates from around the country to take part. The idea of 30 black belted karate masters sparring on board a cruise liner, sounded like a scene right out of an action movie. Bergmann said martial art experts did their best to keep a low profile while on board ship.

“I’ll tell you one thing, nothing was going to happen to me during this trip, because I was with a group of karate masters and they always had my back,” Bergmann joked.
According to Bergmann, her petite size has never posed a problem for her. Though she is only four-feet, 11-inches tall, she is able to kick higher than some who are much taller. Though her spins and kicks can certainly hurt, she also does them with an easy grace.

Dance training
Bergmann explained she was originally trained in ballet, jazz and tap dance and her father was a dance instructor. When she moved here from New York City, she was a single mom with three kids. It was the early 1990s and she couldn’t find a dance school nearby, so when her sons wanted to take karate, they attended class as a family. “For me as a single mom, it was awesome because we did it together and it brought us together,” she said.

The karate classes were offered by Britt St. John. At first, classes were held at Hanah Mountain Resort before moving to the old Fleischmanns school building, then the Margaretville Central School cafeteria and gymnasium. Over the years, the instructors changed. Eventually, Bergmann took over the role. In 2004, she held classes at the Andes Firehall. Now, she holds class on Tuesday nights at the Margaretville Firehall. 

Passion for sport
Her school, which she recently renamed, Pak’s Karate Margaretville, is something she feels passionately about. “I think karate keeps you healthy, it helps you stay in shape,” she said. “It’s not like exercise, which is boring. Besides you’re learning something,” she added. There are currently 20 students in her beginners and intermediate classes, including this reporter. There are several children in her class for beginners. “For kids, the thing they learn is respect, that’s how you want your kids to be,” Bergmann said.

Karate has also done something else for Bergmann, she met her husband Keith, when they were both students attending karate class. He has been instrumental in helping his wife with her karate school.

For more information about Bergmann’s karate classes, contact her through her group page on Facebook under Pak’s Karate Margaretville.