By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Business name: U. S. Tae Kwon Do Centers
Address: 370 Boston Turnpike Rd. (Rt. 9), Shrewsbury and 1141 Main St., Worcester
Grandmaster and owner: Jae H. Jeong
Contact Information:? www.jeongsustc.com; Shrewsbury studio: 508-792-5534; Worcester studio: 508-767-1717
What is tae kwon do?
“Tae kwon do is the Korean version of martial arts. “Tae” means to kick, “kwon” means to punch and “do” means art or way of life, but tae kwon do emphasizes kicks more than other martial arts,” explained Grandmaster Jae H. Jeong, who has been teaching at his U.S. Tae Kwon Do Center in Worcester since 1994, and opened the Shrewsbury studio 10 years ago.
“Most people think it's just the kicking or punching. But it's not only that. The most important thing we teach is confidence, as well as discipline and respect.”
What ages do you teach?
“We start as young as three years old. From three to five years old, we have a special little kids” class. For 6 to 12, we have children's classes; for 13 to 16, teen classes, and people over 16 are in adult classes. Our oldest student is 56. Martial arts study is not just for young people; it is a way of life. It's good exercise and a good family activity. Women frequently take the classes to learn self-defense.”
Why should a child study tae kwon do?
“Parents often think their kids need discipline or are too shy. These things can be addressed by building confidence. I tell kids “Don's look down, don's look at the floor.”
“When parents come in, they watch what I teach. I recommend their children try it for a month. At first the kids just want to break boards, but month by month they learn what we teach here, confidence and respect. They also learn tae kwon do is for defense, and not to attack someone.
“We separate by age, not by gender, so we teach boys and girls together. It's mostly boys, but the girls do very well.”
How long does it take to earn a black belt?
“Many people start martial arts programs, but becoming a black belt is about perseverance. Under our curriculum, it takes three years to become black belt. The youngest first-degree black belt is eight years old,” Jeong said. As a grandmaster, he is an eighth-degree black belt and has been studying tae kwon do since he was four.
Jeong's two sons are instructors at the studios. Alex, a fourth-degree black belt, is a master and was 2010 U.S. Junior Olympic champion. This year his goal is to become U.S. Open champion, college age champion, and U.S. National champion. Edward is a 2012 U.S. National team member and is aiming for the Olympics.
A complete schedule of classes at the two studios is available on the Center's website, www.jeongsustc.com.