School History

Tae Kwon Do at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a registered student organization and non-commercial martial arts club with associations around the country. We are part of a larger family D’Amico Community of Clubs

The Tae Kwon Do at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign school was founded in 1992 by Master Jack Nitschke. In the fall of 1997, Carmen Alonso became the school’s second instructor.

In the summer of 1998, Jack and Carmen moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and began a new club. In anticipation, Darin Smith became an assistant instructor in the spring of 1998. He took over the U of I club as the primary instructor in the fall of 1998. In the spring of 2001, Greg Muthler became an assistant instructor in the club. In the fall of 2002, Candice Solomon became an assistant instructor. In the summer of 2003, Greg Muthler moved to Texas and started his own TKD club.

Then in the summer of 2006, Darin Smith moved away from Urbana-Champaign, allowing Candice Solomon-Strutz to become the new primary instructor. In the fall of 2007, Drew Gifford was appointed as assistant instructor of the club. During the winter of 2011, assistant instructor Drew Gifford moved to Pennsylvania. In the fall of 2013, Austin Happel and Zach Duray were appointed the club’s assistant instructors. In 2017 assistant instructors Happel and Duray moved out of state. During the summer of 2019, Instructor Duray moved back to Urbana-Champaign. Most recently, in fall 2020, Instructor Duray and Instructor Landers were appointed as assistant instructors of the club.

Master Candice Solomon-Strutz is a fourth-degree black belt. Her instructor Master Darin Smith runs a club in Seattle, WA. His instructor Master Nitschke leads a club in Madison, WS. His instructor Master D’Amico teaches in New Bedford, MA, and runs the community of clubs. Ranks of black belt and beyond are tested for under Master D’Amico in New Bedford. Our school at Illinois currently has around 30 students in almost every rank from beginner to black belt.