American Tae Kwon Do teaches more than self defense

Published 5:30 am Monday, March 14, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
Local youth can gain confidence through martial arts and leadership training through the American Tae Kwon Do of Atmore, held at the Atmore YMCA.
Sessions include sparring, training, and various other forms of practice.
Head Instructor Rick Jennings was not available at the latest session, but other instructors, parents, and students were more than willing to praise the program.
"We've been coming for a year-and-a-half," Becky Dean, whose sons Jacob Dean and D.J. Carter train with her at the YMCA, said. "It's about discipline. It's just a good program."
Dean and fellow mother Rosalyn Forney felt that Tae Kwon Do helped their children in the classroom.
"My boys are on the A-B honor roll," Dean said.
"It's been a tremendous help," Forney, whose son, Larry, Jr., has been in the program for several years, said. "It changed his life. He wants to do all the training and I don't have to tell him to do anything. It's been much better than hiring a tutor."
Larry, Jr., also enjoys the program.
"It makes me feel good," he said. "I get to hang around a lot of people and make new friends I didn't know. It teaches me obedience and respect."
Larry, Jr. also felt the program had helped his grades.
"If I don't get good grades, I don't get stripes," he said, referring to stripes on his belt. "I'm a purple belt right now (step six in a10-step ascension to black belt, the highest ranking one can achieve) and I have a lot of fun."
Rosalyn said her son most enjoyed the competitions the Tae Kwon Do team travels to from time-to-time.
"He loves the competitions," she said. "He goes and competes and brings home one or two first place trophies every time."
Shanda "Peaches" Taylor, who has taken Tae Kwon Do for over seven years, had many reasons for joining up.
"I joined for my children," Taylor said. "I kept watching TV and seeing people's children being kidnapped. My children wanted to take it so I let them so they could have a way to defend themselves."
Taylor also benefited from the program, as she is now a second-degree black belt.
"I enjoy doing it a lot," Taylor said. "I've been teaching for three years now, and that's a lot of fun, also."
Taylor's daughter, Ashleigh, has also enjoyed a great deal of success in Tae Kwon Do.
"I've been doing it for seven years," Ashleigh, now 14, said. "You learn how to protect yourself and its just plain fun. My friends know I'm a black belt, so they don't mess with me and that's a lot of fun."
Ashleigh has also begun teaching Tae Kwon Do.
"I like teaching and making the kids look good," she said.
Tony Williams, who was instructing the sparring matches during the session Thursday night, had nothing but good things to say about the program.
"I've been doing it for five years," Williams said. "I've just always loved (martial arts). I've been teaching for three years and that's a lot of fun because you never know what the kids will do next."
Williams and Peaches Taylor agreed that many things Tae Kwon Do teaches are useful in everyday life.
"It makes you aware of your surroundings," Williams said.
"It just teaches you a lot of little things that help," Taylor agreed.
"You can go somewhere without fear," Williams concluded.
Ashleigh Taylor liked Williams' brand of teaching.
"He teaches how to spar really well," she said. "It's fun to spar with him."
Rosalyn Forney felt the program would be beneficial for anyone.
"I talk to a lot of mothers from out of town and they all wish they had a program like this," she said. "I feel like there should be a way to sponsor this so people who can't afford it can do it, too."

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