My most recent member visit took me to the South Woodside Community Centre to check out an evening’s worth of classes at Carr Taekwon-Do, a local martial-arts school which just celebrated its 8th anniversary. I was met on arrival by owner, head instructor and 6th degree black belt Robert Carr, who, in his 25th year participating in Taekwon-Do, clearly loves what he does. His enthusiasm for both the art and his students shone through as he told me about the school and then invited me to participate in the beginner-level class.
Everyone is welcome at Carr’s school: the beginner participants’ ages ranged from five to sixty-five! Carr emphasizes working at your own pace and striving for your personal best – at one point he told a group of sparring students to “learn to make it work for your body.” The school also follows the tenets of Taekwon-Do, which emphasize peace, freedom, justice and most importantly, respect. (It took me a while to get used to calling Carr “Sir” in class!)
During the beginner class we started with the student oath, followed by a warm-up (which included a little language class as we all counted the reps out loud in Korean). Once my arms were killing me from my arch-nemesis, pushups, we moved on to learning several different styles of kicks, practicing on a shield held by one of the school’s black-belts. I must say, it is a very satisfying feeling after a long day to give a good kick to a piece of foam! Then we moved on to a bit of (non-contact) sparring practice, followed by a stretch and cool-down.
After finishing the 45-minute class, I stayed to watch the two other classes of the evening – an intermediate/advanced sparring class and then the KickFit class, a fitness kickboxing class which teaches basic boxing and kicking skills and gives participants a great workout without worrying about testing, uniforms or belts.
While I watched I chatted with some of the other people in the gym. One father told me how his younger son went from having low grades and low self-esteem before he was enrolled in Taekwon-Do, to making good enough grades to get into college and seeing his self-esteem skyrocket (“Too much self esteem,” grumbled the older brother jokingly). Then we watched his older son and a friend run a mile’s worth of laps around the gym – of their own volition – in just under six minutes.
I also learned about the school’s fundraising efforts. They do a lot of work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in events without cost being a prohibiting factor. During and after my workout I also downed two bottles of the flavoured water the school is selling to raise money for a new set of floor mats.
I had a great visit with the Carr Taekwon-Do family – and that’s really what it felt like, and far from being seen as an outsider there to observe and report, I was welcomed right in.
Learn more about Carr Taekwon-Do at www.carrtaekwondo.com.
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