Post By Ethan Worthington, Multimedia Journalist
Spring 2012 Public Information Office Intern
Whether you are a child or an adult, a novice, or a well trained machine, this spring the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department has all of the martial arts programs you could hope for.
The Lee H. Park Martial Arts Institute, which has collaborated with Parks and Recreation in the past, is offering Tae Kwon Do for adults and children and Pre-Hapkido just for the kids.
The classes offered by the Institute treat any students entering through the Parks and Recreation program as if they are coming into the school for the first time. The student is shown the basic protocol for beginning and ending a class.
An upper belt instructor is assigned to the class to show students the ropes. If students like what they learn along the way the Institute hopes that the students stay past the program’s end and continue their way through martial arts.
More than just kicking and punching, the classes offered through the Institute help students understand how important being respectful and learning self-discipline is.
“Martial arts is an excellent way for all ages to stay in shape and to get some activity in their life,” says Head Instructor Mike Morton, “For children, martial arts will teach them respect and discipline as well as burn off some of their extra energy.”
Martial arts aren’t just for kids though. Morton encourages adults to jump right in even if they do not have any past experience. The Institute offers open-group classes where students can start at any time and everyone works together.
“It’s a win-win situation. The upper belts get practice in teaching and mentoring, and the lower belts get to work with someone who understands what it’s like to just start martial arts,” says Morton.
The Institute was founded around 1969 when Great Grandmaster Lee H. Park moved to America from Korea. Most of the Tae Kwon Do schools in the Cape Girardeau area branched off from the Lee H. Park Institute so it is considered the original martial arts school in the region.
Though Morton acknowledges that there is a school out there for everyone he also warns that there are a lot of salesman in the martial arts community.
“We don’t sell black belts in our school,” says Morton, “You earn it.”
Tae Kwon Do classes are available for ages 7-9, 10-15, and 16 to adult. The deadline for registration is Jan. 27 and classes start Jan. 30. Classes are held on Mondays all the way through March 19.
Pre-Hapkido classes are for ages 9-15 and are held Tuesdays and Thursdays through March 1.
Fees for all classes are $21 for Cape Girardeau residents and $26 for non-residents. If you want more information feel free to call Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation at 573-339-6340.