There is a long list of things that make Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray more than just a crowned pageant icon. One of the interesting things about the Filipino-Australian beauty queen is the fact that she is a Choi Kwang Do black belt.
Choi Kwang Do is a striking martial art that originated in South Korea. It was developed between 1978 and 1987 by former South Korean national taekwondo champion Choi Kwang Jo, who was born in Daegu-bu, North Gyeongsang, South Korea, on March 2, 1942.
Choi moved to the United States in 1970. He is the founder and head of the Choi Kwang Do international martial art organization, which is headquartered in his current residence Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The principles of Choi Kwang Do are humility, integrity, gentleness, perseverance, self-control and unbreakable spirit. Designed with biomechanics, kinesiology, psychology and other modern disciplines, this martial art uses natural bilateral movement and fluid sequential motion.
Having mastered body movements is one of Gray’s many weapons. Even before having the Miss Universe 2018 crown on her head on December 18, 2018 in Thailand, she already caught the attention of the world, the universe rather, with her slo-mo twirl also known as the lava walk during the preliminary competition on December 13, 2018.
Incorporating breathing and stretching exercises from yoga, Choi Kwang Do promotes flexible and fluid movement. Choi Kwang Do fifth-degree black belt Bikram Thapa told The Times of India, “It’s an art which can be pursued by people of any age group as it does not lead to joint pains among the elderly and small children.”
One of the 27 Americans who have reached the rank of fifth-degree master instructor in Choi Kwang Do is Michael Wilson, who owns Choi Kwang Do Martial Art and Self-Defense in Carterville, Williamson County, Illinois, USA. In May 2018, he traveled to England with his wife and several of his students to participate in an international seminar conducted by the Choi Kwang Do founder.
“He’s out there on the stage, punching and kicking fast like an Olympic athlete,” The Daily Tribune News quoted Wilson as saying of Choi. “You’re watching teenagers do their best to keep up with him, this man who is almost 80 years old.”
Gray was 12 years old when she earned her black belt. It was her Scottish-born Australian father Ian Gray and Filipino mother Normita Ragas Magnayon who convinced her to get into martial arts.
Catriona finished grade school and high school in Australia before moving to the Philippines. Aside from Choi Kwang Do, she also trained in karate.
“There’s this sense of achievement every time I moved up a belt,” Catriona told ABS-CBN News. “I did karate four times a week for four years. It was crazy. It really taught me discipline.”
Here is Catriona showing some Choi Kwang Do moves: