Martial Arts Classes-Self Defense & Korean Karate in Asheville NC — Martial Arts, Self Defense & Taekwondo School in Asheville NC Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:31:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Student Spotlight – Jennifer Marshall Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:51:20 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Jennifer Marshall.  Jennifer is an excellent student and friend here at Sun Soo.  Ever since beginning her practice, Jennifer has attended classes consistently and has practiced on her own.  In class, she always gives 110% and never seems to have an “off” day.  Jennifer is quick to lend a hand if needed and can always be counted on to demonstrate controlled and respectful behavior.  Jennifer is growing into an incredibly powerful and capable young woman and we are very happy that she is one of our students here at Sun Soo.  Go Jennifer!

picture of jennifer marshall

Age: 13

Rank: Black-recommended

School: Enka Middle School

Why you practice: The main reason is that I love the community of the whole place

How long you’ve been practicing: 2 ¼ years

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: It’s a great outlet for my energy and it has helped me to focus better and think faster.

Other hobbies/interests: I like to draw and write. I’m also interested in biology, mainly zoology.

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I have a pet snake and I’m in the school choir.

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: At one testing, Sarah and I were both sparring and we both did a solar-plexus punch.  So we punched each other’s hands and it hurt, but we were both cracking up about it too.

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Master Shay Tippens to visit Asheville for October Testing Tue, 07 Oct 2014 23:42:40 +0000 This weekend we are pleased to welcome 4th degree Master Shay Tippens to Asheville Sun Soo as one of our guest master instructors on our judging panel.  Master Tippens is the primary instructor at the Chapel Hill location of Master Partridge’s United Tae Kwon Do Academy. Master Tippens is an enthusiastic, friendly and detail oriented instructor and we are excited that he will be joining us for our testing.

Master Tippens began his Tae Kwon Do practice at the age of 10 with Chapel Hill/Carrboro Tae Kwon Do in 1992.  He started because his parents hoped that a martial arts practice would improve his focus and concentration. Master Tippens remembers his first instructor, Master Whittier, as having a strong emphasis on stances, correct technique, and chambers.  Master Tippens remembers feeling awkward and uncoordinated, but his instructors stayed firm and guided him through techniques, helping him experience growth and success.

Master Tippens began teaching Tae Kwon Do in California in 2002 as a trade for the taekwondo classes he was taking.  Choosing to move back from California to pursue his black belt was a pivotal moment for Master Tippens and in 2005 he became the intern for for Chapel Hill/Carrboro Tae Kwon Do. In 2007 he became a full time instructor at the school where he started, and stayed on when Master Partridge took over and they joined the United Tae Kwon Do Academy family.  His recent achievement of 4th Dan has also been a major milestone.
Master Tippens describes his favorite element of practicing Tae Kwon Do as “the moment of “satori” when the physical practice become the meditative… This is probably why I gravitate towards the practice of poomse (forms).”  However, in terms of teaching, Master Tippens says “it’s all about the student.” He loves being part of someone’s “ah ha!” moment, even early on when students are first making efforts towards coordinating left and right sides of the body.
Always passionate about his personal practice, Master Tippens describes his major Tae Kwon Do challenge as learning to teach.  He started teaching at a relatively young age and initially found it to be stressful.  He says he is now very grateful for the students who trusted him at the beginning and helped him to build the confidence that he needed to make a career out of instructing.  He says that he now has more patience with his teaching abilities and trusts that his efforts will lead to improvements over time.
In addition to Tae Kwon Do, Master Tippens enjoys games and puzzles, ranging from classics like the daily crossword or a game of bridge to tabletop games to the occasional video game such as tetris.  He also enjoys spending time with his wife and playing disc golf.
Master Tippens is excited to join us this weekend and is ready to see students performing with focus and confidence!  Thank you Master Tippens for joining us and we hope that you have a great time.

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Master Paul D’Ambrosio to visit Sun Soo for October Testing Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:49:18 +0000 We have a very exciting guest judge, Master Paul D’Ambrosio, joining us this weekend, all the way from Laguna Hills, California. Master D is a 6th Degree Master instructor under TKD International, as well as a 4th Degree Master in Olympic Sport Taekwondo. This uniquely qualifies him to teach to a very wide range of students.  He is also the owner and primary instructor at Aliso Hills Tae Kwon Do.  Master D is also a very charismatic and enthusiastic practitioner – his energy is contagious and we are so thrilled to have him visiting this us weekend.

Master D began his training in the late 1970’s at the age of 15, under fairly hilarious circumstances.He was working for the city department, and had been tasked with painting a fire station stairwell.  He heard yelling at the top of the stairwell, and peeked in to discover part of a jujitsu class.  He and his coworker ran down the stairs to try out the moves, and then ran back up to try and watch some more. Eventually the teacher caught them and chastised them for interrupting, but also invited them to start a practice.  Master D signed up the next week and spent almost 8 years studying Japanese Kenpo Karate and Jiu-Jitsu, eventually earning a 2nd degree black belt.
After graduating college, he moved to New York to pursue a career as an actor. Researching numerous schools in Manhattan, he was studied wherever he could find an instructor that was teaching quality techniques, and ended up taking classes in several styles. Master D eventually moved to California to pursue acting, and it was then that he met Grand Master Tong Suk Chun, and began training in Tae Kwon Do.  For years, he trained and practiced, and eventually had the opportunity to train with and learn from Grand Master Suk Jun Kim, a direct disciple of General Choi Hong Hi, Taekwon-do’s founder. With individual guidance and teaching from Master Kim, Master D was able to up his training to an even higher level. Master D opened his own school in 2009 and moved to the current location 6 months ago.
Master D’s favorite aspect of practicing Tae kwon Do is the endless amount of learning involved. Not only does he love learning from very experienced practitioners, but he says that often he learns the most from the yellow belts and the green belts. He also notices that many people have a “good at/not good at” conversation going on in their heads and he thinks that martial arts can help people to move away from such a fixed mindset.  He encourages people to focus instead on effort and improvement, and adds that such a mindset has facilitated growth in his life and for his students.

Outside of Tae Kwon Do and acting, Master D enjoys playing golf and spending time with his family.  His wife is a 2nd degree and their 14 year old daughter is a 1st degree, so they have the benefit of practicing together.  Master D is most looking forward to seeing the Sun Soo students, as he remembers really enjoying all of the his interactions with the people here in his past 2 visits. We are so excited that Master D is taking the time to visit us all the way from California – please welcome him to our studio and thank him for being with us when you meet him.

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Student Spotlight is on Tina Clark! Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:22:31 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Tina Clark, who started her practice this year after spending many months watching her son Dylan practice from the lobby.  She is a mother of 2 (13 year old daughter Sydney and 8 year old Dylan), and a wife of 18 years.  Most recently, Tina’s husband Gren started his practice and just tested for his white-yellow belt! Tina is a sharp and focused practitioner who brings excellent balance and coordination to her evolving practice.  Additionally, she is a great partner for any classmate, young or old, due to her amazing capacity to relate to others and make people feel safe.  We are so glad that Tina (and fer family members) practice here at Sun Soo and we hope you enjoy Tina’s interview below!
Age:  44
Rank:  yellow/green belt
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor which means I am board certified to conduct talk therapy to help clients with an array of issues that are often interfering with them living their best life. I own my own private practice but have worked in a variety of settings (domestic violence and homeless shelters, a rehabilitation hospital in the traumatic brain injury unit and a university student center). It is an honor and privilege to be in this line of work and yet it can also be an arduous career path where self-care is of utmost importance. If I don’t take care of myself then I won’t be able to take very good care of the people counting on me…my clients and most importantly my family.
So that explains the primary reason I practice Tae Kwon Do at Sun Soo. My son Dylan (who is 8 years old and a green blue belt) began practicing in the Spring of 2013. The more I watched his classes and witnessed the changes in him, the more I wondered what it would be like to be an adult student. I remember Master Morris mentioning that really cool things happen when parents practice with their children. I remained skeptical for a short time, worrying that I would somehow interfere with my son’s progress. It wasn’t until I watched some of the Saturday testings that I began to see what he meant. I saw a huge community of adults and students that supported each other with cheer, hugs and words of encouragement. I saw instructors and students fully invested in their school and I started to realize I wanted to be a part of that…not just sitting on the sidelines. I also realized that my life load was pretty heavy and I needed a healthy way to unload that heaviness. I also have always been happier when I was part of a team (athletic or otherwise) and I hadn’t been part of a team in some time. The final nudge came from my friend, colleague and Sun Soo black belt Nancy Fraser (who works in my building). She seemed to think it was just what I needed. The rest is history. I decided to ask Santa for a uniform and first month at Sun Soo for Christmas. Thanks Santa! I started in January of this year.
At first I felt overwhelmed and about as uncoordinated as I can ever recall feeling. Fortunately I felt surrounded by smiling supportive students and instructors who helped me learn to stop worrying and just keep going. I enjoy so many aspects of my practice 7 months into it. I absolutely love the community and the heart of this school. I love that my body, mind and spirit are getting stronger every class. I love the amazing friends I am making. I love watching the incredible contribution Sun Soo has made in my son’s life. He has grown up so much in the past year. I love that now we have gotten my husband Gren hooked too. Tonight he said that he “needs” to get to class tomorrow “it’s been too long since Monday.” I love the challenges ahead and the upper ranking students that show me what I am capable of with enough practice and perseverance.
I have many other hobbies and interests. I love rock climbing, horseback riding, canoeing/kayaking, playing soccer and lacrosse, hiking, drawing, photography, cooking, traveling, volunteering for Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and enjoying time with my kids.
I’m not sure if I can narrow down a favorite moment in Tae Kwon Do. I love watching my son test and seeing how laser focused and full of pride he can become. I enjoy the many moments when I have laughed so hard or been moved to tears. I enjoy and appreciate the extra help and mentoring that seems readily available and eagerly given. I love that when I get called onto the mat at testing, everywhere I look there are people smiling and encouraging me to do my best. I am eternally grateful for Sun Soo and everything it has and continues to give my family.
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Master Juli Bowman visits Asheville to watch her father, age 72, test for 3rd degree Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:38:56 +0000 This weekend we are pleased to welcome 5th degree Master Juli Bowman to our August testing.  Master Bowman is a pleasant and friendly person who is also an accomplished athlete.  Additionally, she is the daughter of Mr. Randy Langley, who is testing for his 3rd degree this weekend.  Master Bowman is a giving and well rounded practitioner who is excited to be here to support her father this weekend.

Master Bowman began her practice in 1992 after finishing college.  She has played competitive soccer for most of her life, including at the collegiate level, and wanted to take on a new challenge.  She started out at an Olympic style school and found it to be both interesting and great exercise.  She started teaching at this school in Chantilly, Virginia where she earned her 1st degree black belt.

In 1997 Master Bowman moved to her current school, Tiger Claw Taekwondo, in Leesburg, VA. She developed a long term relationship with this school as she has now been practicing and teaching there for nearly 17 years! Master Bowman has taught in various capacities at this school depending on other factors in her life.  Right now, in addition to homeschooling her children, Sydney (age 13, 3rd degree) and Randy (age 10, 1st degree), she is teaching a class at Tiger Claw every week on Saturdays.

Master Bowman loves perfecting her kicks and practicing her patterns. Her favorite part of teaching is “getting the enthusiasm going, making students work hard, sweat, and every time having the students walk out with something new.”  She keeps her class energy high and brings something unique every time she teaches.

In addition to being a long time martial arts practitioner, Master Bowman still plays soccer, in both indoor and outdoor leagues.  She also feels that it is important to give back to the community, and actively volunteers for the local animal shelter with her kids.  They foster kittens at their house in addition to providing the Humane Society with onsite support.  Master Bowman sets a great example for her kids, her students and her peers by participating in community service.

When asked about being a female Master instructor in a male dominated sport, Master Bowman responded with appreciation for the environment of her school.  Like Sun Soo, Tiger Claw fosters a safe environment for all practitioners and has grown through word of mouth and a strong community focus. “Often we’ve actually had more female black belts and instructors than men! We made a T-shirt that said ‘kick like a girl!’” Master Bowman also pointed out that being a martial artist is not about being able to beat everyone in a fight.  She sees her small size as a reality but not a hindrance.  She adds – “I do the techniques that work for my size and my capabilities.” Especially with kids, she emphasizes using good judgment and self control in any dangerous situation.

Master Bowman is excited to visit Asheville to watch her father test, and to “watch everyone watch him.”  It will be a real treat to have Master Bowman on our judging panel this weekend and we are thrilled to welcome her to Asheville!

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7th degree Master Barry Partridge visits Asheville for August Testing Thu, 14 Aug 2014 16:41:13 +0000 We are pleased to have Master Barry Partridge as a guest Master Instructor for our August testing.  He holds a 7th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has been practicing for over 40 years.  He is a former USTA heavyweight champion and has been a coach to several US Tae Kwon Do Olympians. Master Partridge is completely devoted to teaching and spreading Tae Kwon Do, he is a superb athlete, and a warm and charismatic person.  Master Partridge is also a devoted father.  He has a son named Dominique, age 12, who also practices.

Master Morris and Master Partridge have much in common.  They share two previous teachers and they both attended NC State University in Raleigh at the same time.  Master Partridge played college football for NCSU.  He was a Traditional Tae Kwon Do stylist up through 3rd degree and then transitioned to Olympic style which he has practiced up through his current rank.  He’s been running schools and teaching professionally for over 20 years.  Master Partridge is the Master instructor of two schools, both called United Taekwondo Academy – one is in Winston-Salem and one is in Chapel Hill.  He shares his teaching time between the two schools. He chooses to do this for a living because he feels like it’s the way that he can make the greatest difference for people.

Master Partridge loves teaching and loves teaching teachers – which is another thing he shares with Master Morris.  He enjoys facilitating people’s discovery of their own resources to become more effective.  As a practitioner – he loves staying physically fit and enjoys running in addition to Tae Kwon Do.   Although he is very accomplished he is very humble about these accomplishments.  He believes that when people develop self defense skills, it actually creates a peaceful community because “when people are confident that they can take care of themselves, they are relaxed and comfortable and they don’t overreact – they are able to maintain peace.”  Master Partridge has great respect and appreciation for other healing modalities beyond martial arts.

We are excited to welcome such an accomplished and enthusiastic teacher to our school for testing this weekend.  Master Partridge will be teaching our Black Belt Seminar, Saturday morning at 10 AM, on sparring techniques.  Please give Master Partridge a warm welcome when you see him in the studio on Saturday!

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Tedd Clevenger – A well rounded martial artist! Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:57:17 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Tedd Clevenger.  Tedd is an excellent martial artist who demonstrates attention to technique and shows courtesy to all.   Having recently begun his practice, Tedd shows great discipline as a student.  He attends class regularly, often showing up early to get extra practice in before class.  He is also open minded and friendly on the mat, working  and learning from students of all ages and  abilities.  Tedd brings focus, determination, and athleticism to his practice. Through Tae Kwon Do, he is creating new possibilities for himself which are a result of his hard work and enthusiasm.  We hope you enjoy learning a little more about Tedd in his interview below and we are glad that he practices here with us at Sun Soo!

Age: 29

Rank: Yellow

Occupation: Manager at Asheville Brewers Supply

Why I practice: Since I was a little kid I have always wanted to practice martial arts. I love the idea of being able to turn your body into a weapon, but my reasons for practicing are many. Taekwondo provides me a means for multi-faceted health; we train our balance, strength, endurance, flexibility, focus, discipline, etc. Furthermore, though I hope to never need what I learn, I prefer to be prepared and confident if such a need arises.

What I enjoy most about my practice so far: In everything I do, I enjoy building and improving. In TKD practice, I have the opportunity to constantly do this, and I see it every week. It’s always a bit thrilling when something finally clicks or someone offers a nugget to help me tweak and improve a move or step. It’s evolution toward something better.

Other hobbies/interests: I am an avid homebrewer and winemaker. I also greatly enjoy mountain biking, snowboarding, camping and travelling with my wife, and I’m learning archery (maybe Cara can teach me a few things!).

Something people at TKD probably don’t know about me: While I love most types of music, I absolutely love heavy metal, and I’m writing a somewhat supernatural anti-romance novel of sorts.

Favorite TKD moment: Water break. Also, my first day got me totally amped even though I had no clue what was happening.

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Cara Freeman – an example of fun, balance, and strength! Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:25:22 +0000 student spotlight

student spotlight

Our student spotlight this week is on Cara Freeman! Cara is a wonderful addition to the community here at Asheville Sun Soo.  She practices alongside her awesome daughters, Poppy and Violet.  Cara is present and focused during class, actively seeks out the details, and demonstrates both grace and power through her movement.  Additionally she is friendly, inclusive, and a good friend to everyone she interacts with. Cara is often seen putting in extra time after class, either to practice personally or to spend time assisting a less experienced student.  We admire her personal strength, her dedication to living out her values, and the amazing example she sets for her daughters.  We are proud to have Cara as a student and we are grateful for her contributions here at Sun Soo. 
Name:  Cara Freeman

Age: 39

Rank: Yellow-green

Where you go to school:  Diagnostic Medical Sonography Student at AB Tech

Why you practice: I started my practice for the exercise and to share the experience with my daughter Poppy.  However, I now practice for so much more – the challenge of learning something new, the mental and emotional balancing it provides, the community of incredible people I have met and friends I have made have enriched my daily life and I love every minute of my practice…which I now share with BOTH of my daughters.

How long you’ve been practicing: 8 months

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: It’s so hard to narrow it down to one thing…new material, self doubt, frustration, challenges, improvements, and then seeing all of that come together and the sense of accomplishing something – whethers a new form, one steps, or just a great side kick…which seemed impossible in the beginning!

Other hobbies/interests: I love my spin class, music, and my fiber arts businesses – lovin’ buds and Sisters and Heart Happy Designs.  Also cooking, playing guitar, and most of all laughing with my husband and babies! (see violet, age 4 in the picture below)


Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you:  I earned my American Archer Designation at the age of 15. I shot on the University of Texas Archery Team while in college. I still have all my equipment and plan to teach my girls and resume my own practice when I complete my sonography degree.

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment:  I was partnered with Mrs. Dexter one time in class for forms practice – I was a yellow belt at the time.  Her feedback was a huge smile and the comment “you are a technical genius!” It was a warm, kind response and keeps me pushing to fine turn or tighten the nuts and bolts of each form that I learn.

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Leah Dickinson loves Tae Kwon Do…and manatees! Tue, 03 Jun 2014 14:47:40 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Leah Dickinson!

leahdickinsonLeah is a sweet, hard working student who is very enthusiastic about her Tae Kwon Do practice.  Leah practices with her Dad and participates in both kid AND mixed adult classes.  Leah brings a great attitude to the mat and always treats her classmates with respect.  She has improved immensely since beginning her practice and sets a great example for the other students.  Leah is also a great at sparring – she is fierce but has excellent control, and above all is a team player.  Leah is an awesome member of our community and we are grateful to have her as a student here at Sun Soo!

Age: 8

Rank: Blue-Red

Where you go to school:  Isaac Dickson Elementary

How long you’ve been practicing: 2 years

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: I get a good exercise, I also get to meet new people and I get to learn about being more organized

Other hobbies/interests: roller skating, disc golf, running, swimming and biking

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you:  That I love, love, love manatees!

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment:  My blue belt testing.

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Local Author is one of the TaeKwon-Do folk! Fri, 16 May 2014 15:48:43 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Allan Wolf.  allanwolfAllan is a tremendous contribution to the community here at Sun Soo.  He has practiced Tae Kwon Do for 5 years and recently earned his 2nd degree black belt.  Allan is a poet and author who tours regularly and has been recognized internationally for his works which are mostly directed at youth audiences.  In the do-jang, Allan brings a unique enthusiasm and creativity to his practice and to all his interactions with other students.  He readily offers his kind feedback and encouragment to new practioners.  We also love that Allan practices with his teenage sons, Simon and Ethan.  All three of them train hard together and support each other as a family! We are grateful that Allan is part of our family here and that he brings his A game to every class!

Name: Allan Wolf
Age: 51
Rank: 2nd Degree, Black Belt
Occupation: Author, Poet, and Presenter.
Why you practice: It makes me feel great! It keeps me flexible and strong. And I really love the community. Plus it’s something I can share with my sons, Ethan and Simon.
How long you’ve been practicing: At Sun Soo, almost 5 years. Although I have “dabbled” off and on my whole life.
What you enjoy most about your practice so far: The feeling of accomplishment. The quality of instruction. The sense of community. The friendships. And the opportunity to be associated with such a professional, top-drawer organization.
Other hobbies/interests: Vermi-composting. I actually have an rather extensive worm farm in my basement.
Something people at TKD probably don’t know about you: I just released a live album with my band, The Dead Poets. It’s called “The Dead Poets: III”
Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: Testing or 2nd Degree with my son Ethan.
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