Grand Master Robert J Howard

Grand Master Robert Howard
9th Degree Black Belt
President RITA
President of the
National Governing Body
for the ITF in Ireland

Welcome to the Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association web site. The RITA was Established in 1972 to spread Taekwon-Do throughout Ireland. We are the National Governing Body for the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) in Ireland.

Contained within our site is all the latest news from Ireland and the ITF, Information for beginners, all relevant member forms to download and helpful reference material for Instructors and Students.

If you require further Information contact the National Secretary or visit your local Taekwon-Do School.

Upcoming Events
Ant-Doping Code

In 2009, the International Taekwon-Do Federation accepted the World Anti-Doping Code and newly enacted the ITF Anti-Doping Rules in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code.

The Anti-Doping Rules were adopted and implemented in conformance with ITF's responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code, and it is with ITF's continuing efforts to eradicate doping in the ITF Taekwon-Do activities.

The Anti-Doping programs seek to preserve what is intrinsically valuable about sport.

This intrinsic value is often referred to as the "Spirit of Sport"; it is the essence of Olympism; it is how we play true. The spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind

This spirit of sport is totally to comply with Taekwon-Do Tenets of ITF.

As the NGB for the ITF in Ireland the RITA is firmly determined to its commitment to clean sport with the core values of the Taekwon-Do by implementing the ITF’s anti-doping program. We ask that all our competitors (international and national) familiarise themselves with the anti-doping guidelines on the WADA website and take the time to look at the e-learning resources at as there will be random testing at the Irish Open. For more information contact the RITA Anti-doping Officer Master Stephen Doyle 

Recent News
National Secretary

Dear Grandmasters, Masters and Instructors,

We are delighted to announce that Ms Patrice Conaty has formally accepted the role of National Secretary of the Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association.
She will officially start on the 1st of January 2024 and will be contactable on the official NS email address (

The Board of Directors would like to welcome Ms Conaty to the team and we look forward to working with her and supporting her in the role.

Thank you again to Master Valerie Keane for her long service in this role and to Mr Keith Murray who is acting as NS until the end of the year.

International Instructor Course
Master Valerie Keane is stepping down from the role of National Secetary role

Master Valerie Keane with ITF President

It is with deep sadness but also with warm wishes that we have to inform our members that Master Valerie Keane will be stepping down from her role of National Secretary from the 13th October.

Master Keane's decision to retire after dedicating over four decades of her life to our association leaves us both proud of her accomplishments and sad to see her go.

Throughout Master Keane's remarkable tenure, she has displayed unwavering loyalty, dedication, and exceptional work ethic. Her commitment to the role and fellow Taekwon-Do colleagues has had a profound impact on the success of our association. Her contributions have not only shaped the growth of our association but have also inspired and influenced many of our students and instructors.

Master Keane's extensive knowledge, experience, and the wisdom she shared during her time in the role as National Secretary have been invaluable. She has helped to guide the RITA through many tough times and defended it against many outside attacks. Without her the RITA may just be a single school in Green Street!

The Board of Directors, instructors and the membership would like to express our deepest gratitude for her hard work, loyalty, strength and organisational skills which she brought to every AGM, Black belt grading, seminar and Taekwon-Do event. Master Keane's achievements and the indelible mark you have left on our association will always be remembered.

We are happy that as senior instructor to St Mark’s her presence in the association will continue and we look forward to seeing Master Keane at future RITA events.

Speaking about her time as National Secretary Master Keane said "Reflecting back over my 40 plus years as NS appointed to this role by FGM Rhee as a Red Belt and the big one a "Female" with very few females involved with Taekwon-Do at that time. It was a fantastic journey for me to work alongside my Taekwon-Do Family for all those years, something I will always treasure, and thank you all for your patience and understanding."

We all thank you for your Indomitable Spirit and your absence will undoubtedly create a void that is impossible to fill.

ITF Promotions

We would like to congratulate Grand Master Robert G Howard and Master Donal O'Doherty on their promotions by the ITF. GM Howard has followed his Father, RITA President Grand Master Robert J Howard, in achieving the highest rank in Taekwon-Do of 9th Degree Black Belt.

Master O'Doherty from Watergrasshill, Cork was promoted to 8th Degree Black Belt. Both work very hard for the association and their promotions are well deserved.

New Board Members for the RITA

Meet the new RITA Board of Directors. It is envisaged that all board members (Directors) will have a collective responsibility for all board decisions. However individual directors will take on the responsibility of championing a particular area or themes within the RITA and help the committees achieve their goals set in the associations strategy plan.

The Board of Directors are:
Grand Master Anthony Phelan (IX) Director of Finance
Grand Master Francis Barrett (IX) Director of Martial Art
Grand Master Robert Howard (IX) - Chairperson
Master John Jacob (VIII) Director of Compliance
Master Stephen Doyle (VIII) Director of Communications
Mr Martin Mahoney (V) Director of Sport
Ms Kathleen Flanagan (III) Director of Growth & Development
Keith Murray - Company Secretary

New Board Members for the RITA

The RITA elected two new directors to its Board of Directors at its recent AGM. The association would like to welcome Mr Martin Mahoney and Ms Kathleen Flanagan on board, and we look forward to working with them both, as we move the association forward. We would like to thank Grandmaster Robert Howard, Master Mark O'Donnell and Master Valerie Keane for their years of service to the RITA as they step down from the board.
The Board of Directors are Grandmaster Anthony Phelan (IX), Grandmaster Francis Barrett (IX), Master Robert Howard (VIII), Master John Jacob (VIII), Master Stephen Doyle (VIII), Mr Martin Mahoney (V), and Ms Kathleen Flanagan (III).

Annual General Meeting

The RITA held its annual general meeting at the Lucan Spa Hotel on the 17th June 2023.
It was an important meeting as the association needed to vote to change its constitution to allow us to expand the membership and skill set of the Board of Directors. 
There was a lot of positive work presented by our strategic groups and it was great to see their plans starting to have an effect on the RITA. The reports also showed that the association's membership has bounced back to (and exceeded) its pre-Covid levels.

National Instructors Course
Welcome to the RITA

The RITA would like wish Ms Kathleen Flanagan 3rd Degree Black Belt a warm welcome to the Association!
Ms Flanagan is an experienced Instructor and Umpire with schools in Mallow and Aghabullogue in Cork. Both schools are inclusive and adapted to include all children including children with additional needs. Ms Flanagan is extremely qualified in children’s health and development as she is also the manager of a Preschool.
We are honoured to have such a quality Instructor to strengthen our Association especially in our 50th Anniversary year!

Black Belt Exam

ITF 9th Degree GM Phelan, & GM Barrett examiners at the recent RITA National Black Belt grading in the Lucan Spa Hotel, Dublin, assisted by ITF 8th Degree Master O’Donnell senior Instructor to Galway School, Master Floyd Keane senior Instructor to Stillorgan & Blessington Schools, Master Valerie Keane senior Instructor to St Mark’s & Naas, alongside Black Belts from Tuam & St. Mark’s helping out at the grading. Finally all the students grading on the day.
Huge Congrats with a massive “THANKS” to all involved.

RITA Celebrates 50 Years


The 27th May marks a huge milestone in the history of the Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary. We hope that everyone can join us over the coming months at our events so we can celebrate the introduction of Taekwon-Do into Ireland by Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha and the founding of the RITA in 1972

PhoenixPark Demonstration 1972
National Umpire Course
Bronze medal success for Ireland at the Euros
Hanley Energy article

Our sponsor Hanley Energy have a fantastic article on their website about their relationship with the RITA. You can read it on the link below.

Irish Squad to compete at the European Championships

Everyone in the RITA would like to wish the Irish Squad the best of luck at the EITF Taekwon-Do European Championships taking place in Porec, Croatia from 25th March to 2nd April. Competing for Ireland are Cillian Howard, Emily Harold, Finn Howard, Max Cleary, Corey O’Reilly and Dáire Howard with Master Robert Howard as National Coach. Master John Jacob, Master Floyd Keane and Mr Tim Collins were selected by the EITF to be Umpires at the competition.

We want to thank our sponsor Hanley Energy for their fantastic help.

Go n-éirí leat! ????

National Black Belt Grading Results

Black belt promotions Congratulations to the RITA students who were successful in their recent black belt grading. Many of the students were due to grade last March but it was postponed due to the COVID restrictions. In order to avoid the possibility of another disappointment for the students this September the Masters Council decided to decentralise the national examination. This meant that the students were graded in their own county by their local ITF Master examiner.

RITA Black Belt grading results
Promoted to 6th Degree
Mr Leon McSherry (GM Howard’s Dojang)

Promoted to 5th Degree
Mr Martin Mahoney (Galway)
Mr Tim Collins (Galway)

Promoted to 4th Degree
Mr Patrick Feaheny (Stillorgan)

Promoted to 3rd Degree
Ms Marina O’Donnell (Galway)
Mr Finn Howard (GM Howard’s Dojang)

Promoted to 2nd Degree
Cathal Ó’Faoláin (Stillorgan)

Promoted to 1st Degree
Ms Maebh Keogh (Galway)
Mr Robert Doyle (Stillorgan)
Ms Pamela Byrne (Stillorgan)
Mr Keith Lambkin (Stillorgan)
Harry Leonard (Stillorgan)
Sean Ó’Connor (Stillorgan)
Paul Ryan (IBM)
Pascal Maher (IBM)
Evan Jordan (Maynooth).

RITA Steps Up at Slovenian Open

The RITA’s junior black belt squad took another step forward in its continuous development by performing to its current level at the Slovenian Open. The small group of four junior black belts coached by Master Robert Howard (8th degree) travelled to the scenic town of Zrece in eastern Slovenia to compete against athletes from 12 countries, including; Czech Republic, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, and hosts Slovenia. The tournament is a recognised EITF A class event and it was a good test of the Irish squad to see where they currently stand against their European peers. The Irish competitors performed well and took home 2 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze in both patterns and sparring. It was a time to meet old friends and make new ones and the Irish competitors would like to thank Master Emin Durakovic and the members of the Slovenian ITF for their warm hospitality. The squad are currently preparing for the 2020 European Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. The RITA would like to thank Hanley Energy for its continued support.

PHOTO: Back row L-R: Finn Howard, Carla Kelly, Adam Hu, Emmet O’Rourke

Front row: L-R: Master Emin Durokovic (ITF Slovenia), Master Robert Howard, Mr Stefan Cresnar (ITF Slovenia),

New Master promotions at the ITF World Championships
2019 ITF World Championships Success!
Junior Success at the Italian Taekwon-Do Open in Barletta

As part of the continual development programme by the Republic of Ireland of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association, two junior black belts from GM Howard’s School competed at the recent Italian Open in Barletta on the south east of the country. The competition was organised by Fitsport Federazione Italiana Taekwon-Do ITF president Master Ruggiero Lanotte, and attracted competitors from Ireland, Slovenia, Romania, and Bosnia Herzegovina, as well all across Italy.

The two international competitors, Finn Howard and Max Cleary, wanted to build on their experience at the European Championships in Rimini, Italy, two months previously. Both competitors received the extra experience they travelled for and the positive results followed from some excellent performances. In patterns Mas Cleary won the 1st degree junior male black belt division, while Finn Howard topped the second degree division.  Both competitors spared well with Max taking gold in the -57 kg event and the bronze in the heavier -63kg. Meanwhile Finn had to settle for silver (-51kg) in a frustrating final against his Italian opponent.

Overall it was a great June bank holiday weekend in the beautiful city of Barletta and the junior squad now has its focus on the Worlds in Bulgaria (August) and the upcoming Slovenia Open in October. The RITA would like to thank Hanley Energy for the continued support. 

Team Ireland at the European Taekwon-Do Championships, Rimini, April 2019

Team Ireland brought 11 competitors, 2 coaches and 2 international umpires to the European Taekwon-Do Championships in Rimini this month. The team which consisted of 8 juniors and 3 seniors were drawn from Taekwon-Do schools in Dublin, Tipperary and Galway. This was a relatively small squad compared to the European power houses of Russia (147 competitors), Ukraine (127) and Greece (125). However the team performed well and there was a clear improvement in Team Ireland’s standard. The incremental improvements were noticeable in both the patterns event and the sparring event.

Most of the team Ireland’s competitors got through at least one round in both patterns and sparring. The highlights were Mr Leon McSherry (Dublin) taking silver in the male 5th degree patterns event and Mr Alex Byrne (Dublin) winning a bronze in the junior male black belt  -69kg sparring event. These performances gave Ireland a final ranking 17th out of 30 countries.

The team bonded well together and supported each other every day and the support from the parents made the coaches jobs easier and everyone was assigned jobs and monitored the rings and the timetable over events. This allowed the coaches to concentrate on preparing the competitors for their next match.

The improvements in the sparring event was as a result of the coaches bringing in former European and World Champion, Mr Konstantin Yurikov from Russia, as a consultant to our sparring development programme.
The next immediate goal is to prepare the team for the World Championships in Bulgaria in August 2019. The next phase of the development over the next 12 months is to continue the  incremental improvement of the whole team and to target ‘A class’ tournaments to test the team’s improvements. The 2020 European Championships will be held in Prague, Czech Republic.

The coaches and team Ireland would like to thanks Hanley Energy for their support this year, without which this development and success would not be possible.


April 11th 2019 is the 64th anniversary day of the naming of “Taekwon-Do” by Gen. Choi Hong Hi.

Celebrating this day, we are all in missing for Gen. Choi Hong Hi, our father and teacher and our hearts are in a full determination to implement and complete his last words and remain loyal to his valuable legacy to the end.

On this meaningful day, there is a historical Joint Performance of ITF Taekwon-Do demonstration team and WT Taekwon-Do demonstration team in Lausanne, Switzerland in the invitation of IOC with a great interest and expectation from the Taekwon-Do brothers and sisters around the word.

Dear all Taekwon-Do Practitioners,

Let us take a big step with unanimous hearts to make Gen. Choi Hong Hi’s wishes come true.

Now the 21st ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships are near approaching to be held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, between 24th-30th Aug. 2019.

Let’s demonstrate our unit and might to the world once again through this event.

On behalf of all TKD practitioners, ITF HQ would like to express sincere thanks to Mrs. Choi Chun Hi and her family members.

ITF HQ would like also to express a warm congratulation and gratitude to the ITF Pioneers and Grand Masters, who have made a great contribution to the ITF development.


Black Belt Grading

Congratulations to the following students who were promoted at the recent RITA Black Belt grading held in the West County Hotel, examiners on the day were ITF 9th Degree GM Phelan & GM Barrett.

Mr. Chris Gaffney Instructor Dublin North East School promoted to 3rd Degree

Mr. Stephen Mc Cann Dublin North East School promoted to 2nd Degree

. Aidan Kelly St Mark's School promoted to 2nd Degree

Mr. Matthew Kearns St Mark's School promoted to 2nd Degree

Miss Saoirse Ni Thuathail Blessington School promoted to 2nd Degree

Laura Ryan Kilmacow School promoted to 1st Degree

Paul Jacob Waterford School promoted to 1st Degree

Orlaith Mooney Maynooth School promoted to 1st Degree

Mr Matthew Coleman Tuam School promoted to 1st Degree

Gold for Ireland at the Euros
New Grandmaster!
Some great news coming from the ITF World Championships in Pyongyang as the RITA has a new Grandmaster! It was announced at the ITF congress that now Grandmaster Francis Barrett was promoted to 9th Degree Black Belt. This is a fantastic achievement for our Association which is celebrating 45 years since its foundation in 1972 and brings the number of Grandmasters to three. There was also more good news for Waterford Taekwon-Do School as their Senior Instructor Master John Jacob was promoted to 8th Degree Black Belt. Both are representing Ireland as umpires at the ITF World Championships which are underway in Pyongyang, DPR Korea. A huge congratulations to both!
Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association Join Forces With Hanley Energy

Left to right; Master Valerie Keane, Grandmaster Robert Howard, Hanley Energy Co-founder & Managing Director Dennis Nordon, Grandmaster Anthony Phelan, Master Francis Barrett.

The Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association has partnered with global data center solution specialists and technology company Hanley Energy in a deal that will see the Irish owned company become main sponsors of the organisation with immediate effect.

The sponsorship deal was announced by the Masters Council at the 2016 National Taekwon-Do Open Championship which took place in Dublin recently.
Dennis Nordon, MD and co-founder of Hanley Energy said the company continues to recognise world-class potential and is delighted to be an advocate of the Republic of Ireland Taekwondo Association. 

Hanley Energy are very excited about forging strong links to a relatively young, evolving sport with exemplary ambition and a future that is, like ours, on an upward curve. Our aim with RITA will be to support at both an elite and grass-roots level, as the sport continues to grow across the country. We recognise a shared vision and ethos with RITA, we are delighted to be able to champion excellence and assist them in nurturing real international potential. We are looking forward to many exciting years ahead as sponsors.

Business and Taekwon-Do are akin in many ways, but the biggest similarity is the toll they can take on your mental resilience. If you want something sufficiently in both, you will have to work for it. Nothing is accomplished without sacrifice. Dedication, preparation and work ethic are all vital to progress.

In Hanley Energy, we try to embrace the discomforts, even when things seem impossible, learn from errors and we have built a strong team around us, where every member deserves credit for the business success. This ethos is closely reflected in two of Taekwon-Do’s core tenets, perseverance and indomitable spirit.

Grandmaster Anthony Phelan, Vice-President, Republic of Ireland Taekwondo Association, welcomed the partnership saying:

We are delighted to be able to announce Hanley Energy as the primary sponsor of the Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association. We’ve had really positive initial meetings and I think it’s clear that we are very much on the same page. We’re looking forward to a strong and productive partnership.

Ireland has a New ITF Grandmaster!

Congratulations to Grandmaster Anthony Phelan on this promotion to 9th Degree. Grandmaster Phelan is Vice-President of the Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association and is the second most senior Taekwon-Do practitioner in the Republic of Ireland.
GM Phelan travelled to DPR Korea for the 50th anniversary of the International Taekwon-Do Federation and was promoted by President of the ITF Prof Ri Yong Son and the ITF promotions committee. Also attending the celebrations from Ireland were Senior Grandmaster Howard, Master Valerie Keane and Mr Martin Roe.
GM Phelan is a student of FGM Rhee and has been instrumental in the development of Taekwon-Do in Ireland. He introduced the art he loves to Waterford and continues to teach Taekwon-Do in the Ballyfermot/Clondalkin area of Dublin. Over the years he has trained many students to black belt including Senior Master Francis Barrett and Senior Master Brendan O’Toole (INTA).

All the students of Taekwon-Do in Ireland send their best wishes to Grandmaster Phelan on his wonderful achievement.

RITA YouTube Channel

RITA YouTube

Check out our YouTube channel for all the recent media appearances for the 40th Anniversary plus some vintage films from the last 40 years! Also in the playlists section you can view some International Tournaments. Videos are regularly added.

RITA 40th Anniversary featured in the National Media

The 3rd and 4th of May was a busy time for the RITA as we were featured on RTE, TV3, Today FM, 98 FM plus the Irish Times and Irish Daily Mail newspapers!

First off was the feature in the Irish Daily Mail about the Three Generations of the Howard family. Click here to view a scan on our facebook page.

Next was Grand Master Howard, Senior Master Phelan and Master Howard on Dermot & Dave, Dublin’s 98FM doing a live interview & tile breaking. Click here to view the video

Friday started with an appearance on TV3's Ireland AM with First Grand Master Rhee breaking a brick live. Click here to view it on the TV3 website. There are also a couple of photos on our Facebook page

Then it was on to RTE to record a piece for the 6.1 News news. Click here to view the video on our YouTube page.

It was a quick photshoot for the Irish Times then it was off to Today FM for an interview with Matt Cooper for the Last Word. Click here to view that video.

The RITA would like to thank the Senior members who gave up their time to help out.


RITA Celebrating 40 Years

The RITA Would like to thank Mr. Gerard Byrne for designing our 40th Anniversary logo. His hard work is very much appreciated. We would like all our Schools to use it in promotional material so if you require a high resolution copy for print please contact Mr Doyle.

Also as part of the 40th Anniversary we will be uploading Photos and Videos from the last 40 years with some special ones to come soon. In the meantime have a look at the video from our 25th Anniversary back in 1997 and see if you recognise some young faces! Apologese for the quality as its from a very well used VHS.

Check out the Youtube and Facebook pages for more

Grand Master Robert J Howard

RITA President promoted to Grandmaster

Senior Master Robert J. Howard, was promoted to Taekwon-Do Grandmaster, 9th degree black belt, at the 17th ITF World Championships in Pyongyang, North Korea. 

Grandmaster Howard received his new rank (Sasung, Korean for Grandmaster) from the president of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), Professor Chang Ung, at the 17th World Championships. The RITA’s president has just returned from the North Korean capital city and his family and students throughout Ireland are already celebrating the fantastic news. He is the first European to be promoted by the Professor Chang Ung and the ITF and, according to the ITF’s website (, makes him the 8th worldwide. Also promoted in North Korea to the coveted rank of Grandmaster was Senior Master Phap Lu (Canada), SM Hwang (ITF and Czech technical director), SM Kim (Technical director to Bulgaria).

On his promotion Grandmaster Howard said "I'm so honoured to be promoted to Grandmaster by the ITF. When I started in Taekwon-Do back in the sixties I never thought I’d be still training today, and still with my original instructor First Grandmaster Rhee Ki Ha. Perseverance is one of General Choi’s five tenets and I’ve always tried to live by them.’


Click here for more news


Want to learn Taekwon-Do?
To find your nearest school click here.
For more information on Taekwon-Do click here .
If you wish to contact the RITA you can do so by sending an e-mail to The National Secretary at
Just got your Black Belt?

So you've just passed your Black Belt exam and you're wondering what's next? Click here to see some suggestions on taking the next step in your Taekwon-Do journey.

Black Belt Dress Code 1st to 3rd Dan
Umpire Dress Code 1st to 3rd Dan

RITA Policies
Our members can view the RITA Policies for the Association here
RITA Committees
All RITA members are encouraged to get involved in the Comittees by either submitting ideas or by joining them. Click here to view full contact details for all of the Committees.
Squad Training
ITF Ireland Team

Training is open to all RITA adults. Everyone is invited to come along to try out for the National Squad and those who’ve never been before are encouraged to give it a go. We are also looking to find new talent with potential to represent Ireland at international competitions. So even if you want some extra practice, to improve fitness or just want to see what training is like you are more than welcome to attend.

Senior Black Belt Squad

Senior & Veteran Coach Master Stephen Doyle

Junior Black Belt Squad

Junior & Child Coach Master Robert Howard

TKD Supplies

TKD Supplies

RITA Instructors and Students can now view the TKD Supplies stock online. Click here to see our latest prices and stock.

Order form Word document
Order form PDF

In Memoriam

Gen Choi Hong Hi
Founder of Taekwon-Do
1918 - 2002
Follow us on Instagram
Follow us on Twitter
Visit us on facebook
RITA YouTube Channel

© copyright 2024 Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association. All information correct at time of publication