Nearly two dozen second-graders stand with one foot in front of the other, their hands balled into fists as they scream as loud as they can.
Students at Oakwood Elementary School and Flowery Branch Elementary School have access to a new taekwondo program taught in the middle of their school day, thanks to a partnership between the public schools and a nearby martial arts school.
“I proposed bringing a martial arts program into the public schools,” said Kwan Kim, owner of U.S. Elite Taekwondo Academy. “We wanted to bring into the public education all the benefits of martial arts.”
These benefits include improved focus, confidence, respect, self-control and more.
“What we’re doing is a character development program for the children,” Kim said. “So we work on increasing their focus, learning respect and more, all through martial arts lessons.”
Kim is offering slightly different programs at Oakwood and Flowery Branch, as they’ve been modified for each school.
The taekwondo program at Oakwood started Monday, with second-graders receiving lessons twice a week during their physical education class.
In each introductory class, Kim starts the students with running, stretching and a few basics. He teaches the right way to make a fist, to punch, and to do a high kick.
The biggest rule in his class is showing respect and self-control.
He had students in his class Wednesday practice yelling “Yes sir” and “No sir” in answer to his questions.
“This is cool,” one student exclaimed before adding, “Sir.”
Julie Adams, Oakwood physical education teacher, said not only are the students enjoying the lessons, but she’s enjoyed “being a student again, too.”
She commended Kim for volunteering his time by doing this program for the students.
Flowery Branch’s program will start next week, and Kim will teach two sessions a week to third-graders during the school’s “Team Time.”
At both schools, the program is called “C.H.A.M.P.” which stands for “Controlling my action; Having integrity; Attaining my goals through perseverance; Mastering indomitable spirit; and Practicing courtesy and respect.”
“It was specifically designed for students within the public school system to educate and influence students’ overall behavior through instruction and training of basic Taekwondo,” Kim said. “By encouraging and motivating students to apply the set of principles and standards taught by the program, students will develop habits and lifestyles which will lead them to great long-term success in schools, their homes and future endeavors.”
The program will run about six weeks and students will have the chance to take a belt test at the end.
Kim said his mission through the program is to help students develop the skills to make better choices.
He said it is a partnership that benefits both parties — his business and the schools.
“The kids are really enjoying it,” he said.