The art and sport of taekwondo

What are some draws of the Korean martial art taekwondo? It develops strength, balance, and flexibility, it’s a lifelong skill that requires no external equipment, and it develops confidence and independence in its students.

Ryan Oevermann’s a second degree black belt in the martial art, and an instructor with the Northern Taekwon-do Academy, the body under which 23 Sun Peaks youth are learning South Korea’s national sport.

“This was something that was on the back burner of my brain, and it worked out timing-wise,” explains Oevermann. “The Delta Hotel was accommodating in making sure we had a place for training, so everything fell into place. The kids tried it and were enthusiastic; the parents are very excited about it.”

Each Tuesday and Thursday, for one hour sessions, Oevermann and 23 kids gather to work on the art and sport of taekwondo. On top of learning the skill, and the discipline, Discovery Centre students enrolled in Oevermann’s class receive credit toward their physical education curriculum. The distributed learning model that governs their schooling allows students to apply extracurricular classes such as music or sports to their school reporting, explains Jillian Schmalz, teacher at the centre.

Dan Yano’s son Kiyomi takes the classes, and despite only being in kindergarten, he enjoys the activity, while his father appreciates the etiquette it brings.

“He loves it for sure. Five is quite young, but he really digs it,” says Dan. “He calls Ryan sir; it’s discipline.”

The group warms up, practices the set of movements, or patterns, that are specific to each level, they spar, and they work on self defence techniques, all while maintaining the discipline inherent to the art.

When the class deals with self defence, Oevermann frames scenarios in every-day applicable situations such as encountering a bully, or being approached by a stranger.

“The parents get a peace of mind that their kids are learning basic techniques about how to say, ‘Hey this is a stranger . . . or this person is trying to take me somewhere and he’s not my dad.’ These are really important things you have to think about,” explains Oevermann. “I might even say that there are more life skills involved than exercise (in taekwondo) but exercise is a key foundation that goes all the way through it.”

This session of instruction will wind down in June, to be resumed in the fall. Oevermann is eager to see the returning students, as well as some new faces, in September.

“There’s the potential for an adult’s class in September so we’ll be looking at that and keeping track of people who want to try that out,” says Oevermann. “I recommend (people) come out and try a couple classes and make sure it’s something they enjoy before they register.”

Dan, for one, is keen to give taekwondo a go.

“(I’d do it) to do something that (my son) does. It’s more or less if he does it, it’s something he and I can work on together,” says Dan. “There’s been lots of people asking if they can do it too, as adults.”

For more on Taekwondo at Sun Peaks, call Ryan 250-371-0733.

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