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Taekwon-do more than a martial art

Discipline and concentration in the martial art of taekwon-do is important.
For parent Lori Ann Fortkort of Denver, discipline is especially important.
Two of her three sons – Albert and Jacob – are autistic. Fortkort has been bringing her three sons to the C. Moran School of Taekwon-do in Denver for the past year-and-a-half.
“They have a hard time sometimes with verbal cues,” said Fortkort. “Coming to the C. Moran school is something I thought that would be good for them.”
13-year-old Albert along with brothers Jake, 15 and Joey, 8, joined about 17 other students to test for the next belt level in taekwon-do Saturday at the school in Denver.
Every ten weeks, students of the school gather to be tested for the next belt classification.
Collum Moran, owner and operator of the school, said that students spend time preparing the week before the testing.
“I’ll test the students the week before the actual test,” he said Saturday before the testing. “Then the students will show master instructor Robert Summers what they learned.”
Around 20 of the school’s 45 students tested for different belt classifications in front of their families Saturday evening.

Hannah Brady and Christopher Killi vie for their red stripe during testing. (The third child facing the camera was not identified at press time.) Rachel Anders / LTN Photo

At the school, students go through what are called forms or variations of moves already learned.
With Moran’s school, however, it’s more than just learning forms and testing for belts: it’s about being well-rounded in all facets of life.
“While they go through their forms including self-defense and one-step sparring techniques, We also have them announce what chores they’re doing at home,” said Moran.
The way Moran was trained and the way he trains his students is different.
“I’d learn a specific form and earn a belt,” he said. “Now, we’re teaching all like belts in the same class. Because of the 10-week semester, students are repeating the same semester almost three times before they reach black belt.”
Moran added the expectation once was that students were expected to learn a form in class and expected to work on that and previous forms used outside of class.
“We don’t do that anymore because we find that we’re teaching kids the same forms all over again,” said Moran.
While students in his school range in age from four to 64 – his oldest student was out-of-town during the testing – learning the true art of taekwon-do is reserved for students 18 and older.
“Before the students turn 18, they’re getting the basic moves,” said Moran. “When the students move into the adult class, they’re learning the complete forms.”
Moran said that teaching students this way is “making them sharper.”
“During the testing, students are graded based on the belt the student is vying for,” said Moran. “Everything we do is connected from the forms. All aspects are tied together where the students may be working on one move when actually, students are working on five-to-eight different moves simultaneously.”
Rem and Ginger Rogers of Pumpkin Center were their to watch their three children – Rosie, 7; Stephen, 12; and Rem, 16 – test for their yellow belts.
“We have worked together with Master Moran in the commitment to see the kids grow emotionally and spiritually in all areas,” said Ginger Rogers. “He backs up what we teach our children at home, which is discipline in all areas.”
Moran agreed with Rogers’ sentiment, adding motivations for parents to bring their children is self-discipline.
“It’s like teamwork,” said Moran. “I support them and they support me. We reinforce each other.”
Part of the discipline of taekwon-do is how the students addressed their instructors during the testing.
For Moran, the students responded to his questions or directions as “Sabum-Nim.” For Summers, the response was “Kwajang-Nim.”
Summers said those were terms reflecting different levels within the martial art.
“A Sabum-Nim is a fourth degree or higher master instructor who is like a father-figure. It means Korean for father,” said Summers. “A Kwajang-Nim, however, is a teacher of masters.”
Summers added taekwon-do itself is about more than moves.
“Kicking and punching are a very small part,” he said. “Self-improvement is the true essence of martial arts.”
During one point in the testing, Summers drew chuckles from the crowd when he told a group of testers “say Sabum-Nim for your instructor to make him happy.”
Fortkot’s three children all successfully tested for their green belts.
“It’s funny to watch the kids interact,” she said. “They’re all doing very well. Not only are the students enjoying each other, the parents are proud of their accomplishments.”

For more information on the C. Moran School of Taekwon-do, call Collum Moran at (704) 489-2200.
by Jon Mayhew

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