The instructors at United Tae Kwon Do Inc. are committed to teaching traditional Tae Kwon Do, Moo Duk Kwon, and Sport Tae Kwon Do. All of our instructors have been personally trained by Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee, 10th Dan Black Belt, and Grandmaster Robert Lemire, 9th Dan Black Belt and have among them from ten to over forty years experience as Taekwondo practitioners.
In 1973, a 17-year old Bob Lemire sat in his High School history class in Lowell, Ma., staring out the window. But, rather than staring blankly into space, he was riveted by what he saw. What captured his attention was the class under way in the window across the street: a Taekwondo class being taught by Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee. “His class was the same time as my history class. I should have flunked history, but I didn’t,” he says.
Grandmaster Lemire started training in Taekwondo shortly thereafter, having scraped up the thirty-five dollars for a uniform. He remembers his first class on a Saturday. Grandmaster Gary Pelletier was already a green belt, and Bob Sirois (cousin of Grandmaster Dave Sirois) was already Grandmaster Lee’s first black belt. “They were amazing, and I knew I had to do it. I was 125-pounds, a long-distance runner, played baseball, and was built for Taekwondo.”
With total dedication, Grandmaster Lemire became immersed in Taekwondo. Four years later he was a black belt. He won many competitions and remained in the 125-pound class as of 1983.
When Grandmaster Lee moved to Connecticut around 1974, Grandmaster Lemire and his schoolmates continued training with him two Saturdays per month, stopping at rest areas along the road on the way home to practice techniques.
In 1990, as the city of Lawrence was declining, the decision was made to close the school there. Grandmaster Lemire founded the Pelham school with GM Lee’s blessing. The school has been active ever since.
Grandmaster Gary Pelletier grew up in a tough section of Lawrence, MA. In his early 20s, he looked for a martial arts school. After observing one class, he began studying with Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee (10th Dan) on April 16, 1973, in his school on Essex Street in North Lawrence.
On November 1, 1989, Grandmaster Bob Lemire (9th Dan, a fellow student of Grandmaster Lee) founded United Tae Kwon Do in Pelham. Grandmaster Pelletier and the other original students of Grandmaster Lee joined him in continuing a tradition. Grandmaster Pelletier has been instructing at United Tae Kwon Do as a volunteer since its inception.
Professionally, Grandmaster Pelletier worked as a surveyor for forty-two years on diverse projects including the Mass Turnpike and the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. He retired in 2011, and Taekwondo remains his primary focus. He has been instructing at United Tae Kwon Do as a volunteer since its inception.
Grandmaster Pelletier’s classes are very challenging, very serious, but somehow we always end up laughing. His favorite kick is the Flying Side Thrust Kick – once performed over 12 volunteers in 1978. His message to new students is reflected in his classes: “You get out of Taekwondo exactly what you put into it. It’s not all fun and games... but we do have fun.”
At the tender age of 15 years old, Dave Sirois joined his cousin Bob Sirois in attending a Taekwondo class as a spectator. It was his first time meeting Grandmaster Moo Yong Lee in his school on Essex Street in Lawrence. At the end of that class, he was a spectator no longer. On January 29, 1975, he signed up for Taekwondo classes and hasn’t stopped since.
His cousin Bob Sirois went on to be the first US student of Grandmaster Lee to earn a black belt, First Dan. In those early days there was another student that left a lasting impression on him. At a belt test, a young student named Gary Pelletier was being pushed to the limit by Grandmaster Lee. Dave was amazed at the skill and capability of Gary, and how GM Lee pulled the best out of him. Gary would be a continuing influence on Dave. Dave focused on his Taekwondo training, and went on to start instructing in 1977.
Amongst Grandmaster Sirois’ fondest memories was the nearly two decades after GM Lee moved from Lawrence MA to Connecticut. Every other Saturday GM Sirois and the other senior students would drive to Connecticut to attend class with GM Lee. And on the other Saturdays, GM Lee would drive up to Massachusetts to teach. This group would become the foundation of Pelham United Tae Kwon Do as we know it today.
Grandmaster Sirois teaches regularly on Monday nights at United Tae Kwon Do. He is a respected instructor for his ability to relate well to students, young and old, experienced and neophyte. Grandmaster Sirois' message to new students is simple: “The hardest class is the first one. Everyone goes through the same challenges.”
Grandmaster Sirois is the owner of Sirois Food Products in Lawrence MA, and a full-time employee.
Grandmaster Jack Sciuto started taking Judo lessons at age of twelve from Mr. Bob Champy in Methuen MA. The two years he spent in those classes laid a foundation for his lifelong interest in the martial arts. After a subsequent two-year break, he started training with Grandmaster Lee.
A 15-year-and-nine-month-old Jack Sciuto was in Driving School on the second floor across the street from the Taekwondo school on Essex Street in Lawrence MA. The classes he saw were more interesting than driving class and looked like fun. The week after he finished driving school, he started his Taekwondo training with a world-class 8th-Dan Grandmaster. It was January of 1974.
For about a year at the Essex Street school, all of Jack’s classes were taught by Grandmaster Lee, prior to his move to Hartford CT. Thereafter, Grandmaster Lee wanted the instructors taking over for him to be 18-years or older. So, Jack was not immediately qualified to teach in the absence of Grandmaster Lee. A routine of travelling to and from Hartford was started to keep the knowledge flowing from Grandmaster Lee to his students. On the first and third (and fifth) Saturdays of the month, the students would travel to Hartford for training. On the second and fourth Saturday, Grandmaster Lee would travel north.
When Jack turned eighteen, he started teaching. Though not yet a Black Belt, it was a necessity as the school had not yet generated its first Black Belt. And from this necessity, Grandmaster Jack Sciuto developed his skills as a teacher and the experience matured him. Taekwondo led this 18-year-old to begin effectively teaching large classes of 25-30 students of mixed ages.
Jack tested for Black Belt (1st Dan) in 1978. He was then working for his father and had no plans for his career. He certainly had no ambition to be a teacher professionally. He did not go to college immediately after high school. He was training in Taekwondo almost every night.
Eventually, Jack found his musical passion in the form of the guitar. As his interest in music became more focused, his Taekwondo began to take a back seat. He began attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, and his schedule immediately filled with classes, commuting from home and playing gigs as many as six nights per week to pay for school. He did not train in Taekwondo for about seven years. He did, however, become an accomplished musician during this time.
In 1988, Jack Sciuto was out of school and playing a gig at the Beach Club in Salisbury Beach, when (now Grandmasters) Gary Pelletier and Bob Lemire successfully sought him out to “capture” him for the Taekwondo school. Jack came off stage after his performance and was jumped by his Taekwondo classmates. Jack returned to Taekwondo training, quickly earned his Second Dan, and has been active ever since. The new school in Pelham opened at the end of 1989.
Grandmaster Sciuto’s message to new students is "You can achieve more than you think you can, if you approach it honestly and diligently. You’re not going to be great [overnight]. You need to stay at it. Limit your excuses.”
Today, Grandmaster Sciuto is a professional musician, music teacher, and continues to teach Taekwondo regularly. In fact, his Wednesday night class has been a fixture at United Tae Kwon Do since 1990. He also teaches Taekwondo in the Ste. Jeanne d’Arc School in Lowell MA as part of their athletic program.
Grandmaster Levesque started Taekwondo on March 2, 1979 under Grand Master Moo Yong Lee.
At the age of eleven, a young Barry Drago was taking Judo lessons at the Massasoit Judo Club in Peabody, Mass. Jimmy Pedro, Sr., a veteran of the Pan Am Games, was one of his instructors for the six or seven months of that Barry trained there.
After moving to Atlanta, GM Drago began his service in the US Navy. He served on an aircraft carrier, but there was no time for martial arts training. He left the navy at the age of 23.
GM Drago was interested in baseball, but wasn’t good enough for his age. He started looking for a place to study martial arts, and recalled a friend mentioning Taekwondo. It was during this search that he wandered into the United Tae Kwon Do school in the basement under the French Club in Lawrence, Mass. The first people he met were now-Grandmasters Brian Levesque and Bob Lemire. It was 1985.
Four years after he began his training, Grandmasters Lemire and Pelletier left the Lawrence location to start the Pelham, NH location, with the understanding that the Lawrence location was to remain open as well. At the time GM Drago was training with GM Bob Lemire and GM Jack Sciuto, who had recently returned to the school. He decided to migrate to the Pelham school with them. As fate would have it, the Lawrence school had difficulties making the transition, and everyone ended up in Pelham.
The Pelham school started in 1989, and GM Drago has been there ever since. At the time, the school was very active in competition. GM Drago was a serious competitor, and in the crucible of competition his work ethic was crystallized. “I would train, train, train. And I lost, I didn’t win all the time. But I always did my absolute best, and trained as hard as I could. I couldn’t have worked any harder than I did. That’s as much as you can ask of anybody.”
GM Drago hurt his back in 1999 in training and was out of action for a while. That plus buying a house, getting married, and getting a new job led to a hiatus. Now, Taekwondo is a priority in his life, and there are few reasons he would miss training.
GM Lemire and GM Pelletier were his biggest influences. He acknowledges the enormous amount of time that GM Pelletier gave him in preparation for his test and promotion. GM Drago is now 7th Dan.
Grand Master Drago is currently instructing, teaching the class on Tuesday evenings. His philosophy is simple: teach the way he was taught, and remain focused on the foundations of Basic Technique. He feels that students are mirrors for the instructors. Their performance is as much a commentary on the instructors as it is their abilities. He takes that feedback seriously and strives to be effective.
Mr. Webb began training under Grandmaster Bob Lemire in 2001. After a hiatus from 2003 to 2011, he started training again and achieved First Dan in May, 2014. He is an electrical engineer and owner of AntennaSys, Inc., living in Windham NH.
He is also responsible for the United Tae Kwon Do, Inc. web (!) and Facebook pages and email server. His daughter is also a black belt in the school. His other interests include photography, competitive shooting and metalworking.