Getting a kick out of taekwondo

Master Oh puts on a demonstration at the Olympic Taekwondo Academy at 166 Queen Street.

Master Oh puts on a demonstration at the Olympic Taekwondo Academy at 166 Queen Street.

By JOHN GORALSKI
EDITOR

While waiting for students to arrive at his new facility on Queen Street, Master Oh recently put on a little display for an early visitor. The martial arts master dropped into a split, bounced up with a flurry of punches, and spun like a top with kicks whizzing through the air a few feet above his head.

Suddenly he stopped and broke into a laugh when he realized that he forgot to stretch before his demonstration. After a short rest and some stretching, he’s at it again, spinning in a flurry of gravity-defying kicks.

With Oh’s excitement about the sport, it’s no surprise that the Olympic Taekwondo Academy has already attracted hundreds of young students to the seven locations across the state. But the newest facility in Southington offers a chance for locals to study the Korean martial art that has recently become an official Olympic sport.

Master Oh’s all-inclusive facility at 166 Queen Street is designed to welcome students and families to the benefits of taekwondo.

“I’m trying to feel the American culture, and this Connecticut town doesn’t have many Korean people,” said the certified master instructor. Oh has been studying for a quarter century and has been teaching for more than a decade—first in Korea, then New York and New Jersey, and now in Connecticut.

“I want to teach the American people,” he said.

Olympic Taekwondo Academy staff gather with their team mascot at the Queen Street location. Master Oh, center, and his assistant, Nicole Felice, are looking forward to teaching the martial art in Southington.

Olympic Taekwondo Academy staff gather with their team mascot at the Queen Street location. Master Oh, center, and his assistant, Nicole Felice, are looking forward to teaching the martial art in Southington.

Taekwondo is the national sport of South Korea. “Tae” means “to strike or break with foot.” “Kwon” means “to strike or break with fist,” and “do” means “way” or “path.” Oh’s hands-on approach focuses on self-defense forums, sparring, and discipline. His lessons are designed for all ages, from 3 to adult.

“It’s not just the moves of taekwondo,” said his assistant, Nicole Felice. “It’s what’s behind it: the respect, the discipline, the self-control. Massachusetts actually incorporates taekwondo into their school system because it makes such an impact on the kids.”

That’s one reason why Oh decided to design his studio as a truly open space. No wall separates the younger students from parents, so that taekwondo’s lessons about self-discipline, respect, and confidence can be reinforced between lessons.

“I make them improve their behaviors at home and at school,” he said. “Not only here.”

The open plan also allows parents to benefit from the lessons and philosophy. Oh’s teaching incorporates direct, one-on-one instruction with group training and life lessons, so the wall between the classroom and the waiting room seemed like an unnecessary distraction.

“A lot of people have a wall, but I didn’t want to put the wall,” he said. “I cannot communicate with the parents with a wall. The parents cannot hear what I am talking about.”

His lessons cover all of the basics of taekwondo, including practicing moves and core values. Oh said that the mental aspects of the sport allow students to find harmony in their lives.

Olympic Taekwondo Academy offers lessons for groups of all ages, from Little Tigers (ages 3-5) and the children’s divisions (ages 6-9 and 10-12) to teens and adults.

The school provides general education, martial arts classes, formal training for competitions, parties, and more.

For more information, contact Olympic Taekwondo Academy at (860) 863-5888 or at ilovemasteroh@gmail.com.  For information on camps, classes, and grand opening specials, visit the website at www.OlympicTaekwondoAcademy.com.

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