Just call him master. That's the title Prince George taekwondo artist and instructor Kurt Ottesen holds after earning his seventh-degree black belt.
"It's pretty special," said Ottesen. "I've put a lot of my effort into it. It's taken up 90 per cent of my life so it's really nice to come to the one goal that very few people make."
The 38-year-old earned the distinction of being only one of nine people (he's eighth) in Canada to have a seventh-degree belt, and makes him the youngest, possibly in the world, but definitely in North and South America to have achieved the honour. To put Ottesen's feat into perspective, achieving a seventh-degree black belt is equivalent to having a Ph.D. in the amount of education, effort and time put in.
"I've had a very stellar competitive career," said Ottesen, owner of Freedom Tae Kwon-do and inducted into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame, class of 2009. "I've had a very stellar coaching career, building and organizing in the art. I've worked for the international body and trained umpires worldwide."
Despite his stacked resume, Ottesen said when he took his exam Sept. 9 in the Dominican Republic it took him back to his youthful days of writing tests.
"Oh boy, I hadn't done an exam in over eight years," said Ottesen. "It's really funny because this brings me back and puts me in the position of one of my students. It's stressful. I get nervous. I get anxious. I thought I had that behind me but apparently not."
He said the nerves likely came from his desire for perfection.
"Having done it for so long it comes real naturally but, at the same time, it's about that desire to do well," said Ottesen. "For me, I knew the goal was a pass but I was striving higher than that."
Ottesen said when he received word that he'd passed, he was happy with his score, but disappointed he wasn't perfect.
He'll have about 30 years to work towards a flawless performance as Ottesen said he plans to eventually obtain his ninth-degree black belt, which would make him a grand master in the traditional martial art.
"I'm nowhere near finished," said Ottesen. "I won't finish until I'm in the ground. I fell in love with it many years ago and it's been my motivating passion all the time."