Martial Arts Classes-Self Defense & Korean Karate in Asheville NC — Martial Arts, Self Defense & Taekwondo School in Asheville NC Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:07:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sukita Aguirre – practicing excellence all around! Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:07:19 +0000 Sukita Aguirre is a young martial artist with great potential, who is self motivated and takes responsibility for maintaining an excellent practice. Sukita started classes at Sun Soo last fall with encouragement from her father, who holds a 5th degree black belt in Kung Fu. On the mat, Sukita is focused, present, and attentive. She demonstrates leadership in class through her excellent technique and behavior. She treats instructors and classmates with courtesy, and is respectful of other people’s space and time. She enthusiastically practices her Tae kwon Do at home, and this extra effort is noticeable in class. Sukita is a great example of independence, perseverance and self control. Sukita is on the road to becoming a very skilled Tae Kwon Do practitioner and she is a joy to have as a student here at Sun Soo.

sukitaHow old are you? 9

What is your rank? Yellow belt

Where do you go to school? Vance Elementary

Why do you practice? To get better at the things I do

How long have you been practicing? Since I was a white belt

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far? I like doing the moves

What are some of your other hobbies or interests? Swimming, football, painting

What is something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you? My dad was a boxer when I

was 2.

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment? Testing

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Tim Johnson – Model citizen and martial artist Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:12:43 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Tim Johnson. Tim is a dedicated student at Sun Soo who was inspired to start his practice by his 12 year old son, Tim Johnson Jr. Tim puts great effort into his Tae Kwon Do practice, paying attention to details and improving the way he moves. Having recently begun, Tim is off to a great start by attending regularly and making steady technical progress. On and off the mat, Tim is such a kind and gentle person that one might never guess that he is an FBI agent! Working with Tim in class is a great experience for all because he is so helpful and humble. We are honored to have Tim as a student here – as a model citizen, father, husband, community member and leader. Thank you Tim for you contributions!

timjohnsonHow old are you? 51

What is your rank? Yellow belt

What is your occupation? FBI Special Agent assigned to Western North Carolina working from the Veach-Baley Building, Asheville, NC.

Why do you practice? To build a stronger relationship with my son while creating great memories with him. I also practice in order to have a mental and physical practice which leads to personal growth.

How long have you been practicing? Since September, 2014

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far? The staff and students are fantastic. There is unique collection of people from all walks of life who come together in a very supportive and positive environment.

What are some of your other hobbies or interests? Fishing and spending time with the family

What is something that people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you? I spent 3 years traveling the world as part of the FBI’s protection detail from the United States Attorney General. I served Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales.

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment? Watching my son successfully complete his first belt test.

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Evan and Suzanne – Life partners becoming stronger together! Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:39:49 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on not one…but TWO awesome practitioners. We are featuring the couple, Evan and Suzanne, as amazing life partners practicing together. Evan is a friendly and unique person who sets a great example of being true to himself. He pushes himself mentally and physically through his practice and uses it to help make personal breakthroughs. Suzanne is a kind and compassionate student whose warm personality puts others at ease. Her Tae Kwon Do practice is characterized by attention to detail and extremely clean technique! Both Evan and Suzanne dedicate abundant energy to their practice and to their relationships with others. They volunteer frequently in different capacities, including helping with testing, Kids Night Out, and the teen service project. Asheville Sun Soo is a brighter place when these two walk through the door. Thank you Evan and Suzanne for being part of Asheville Sun Soo!

Interview – Suzanne Arthur


How old are you? 56

What is your rank? Red

What is your occupation? Self-employed writer and editor. I’m also an English tutor at Chyten Tutoring and Test Prep.

Why do you practice? Initially, I was looking for a killer workout that Evan and I could practice together. Plus, he was always saying to me, “watch where you’re going!” I needed work in the mind-body-connection department. Now I practice because it’s become an important part of my life. I’m stronger and more at home in my body. I love the challenge of having tangible goals to work towards, and the sense of achievement when something finally gels.

How long have you been practicing? 20 months.

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far? I love learning, and there’s always something new to learn here. I love the people, the sense of community, the structure, and the discipline. When you’re on the mat there is no room at all for anything else. Worries, anxieties about work or whatever, you leave it all at the door and just focus. It’s like a mini-vacation from stress. So I started for the physical-mental workout, but what keeps me coming back is this overall sense of wellness, of connection, and discovery.

Suzanne volunteering with Sun Soo Teens at the Asheville Humane Society

Suzanne volunteering with Sun Soo Teens at the Asheville Humane Society

What do you enjoy most about practicing with Evan? Our practice is like this great adventure we’re on together. It’s fun to see him getting stronger and more flexible. He inspires me to work harder and get better. I think those are great metaphors that show up in other parts of our life together.

What are some of your other hobbies and interests? I like to knit, play the flute, and I’m writing a thriller.

What is something people at Asheville Sun Soo probably don’t know about you? I have six great-nieces and two great-nephews.

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment? Nailing my first board break, following Evan’s failed attempt at his.

Evan successfully breaking 2 boards - the day after Suzanne broke hers!

Evan successfully breaking 2 boards – the day after Suzanne broke hers!

Interview – Evan Landaw

How old are you? 48

What is your rank? Red belt

What is your occupation? Lead stunt coordinator at Pixel Ink Design Inc.

Why do you practice? It’s vanity. But seriously folks… it’s vanity. All the way.

How long have you been practicing?
Believe it or not it’s been 20 months, I know it looks like a few weeks, but it actually has been 20 months.

What do you enjoy most about your practice?
I enjoy pushing beyond my perceived limits and confronting my entrenched fears.

What do you enjoy most about practicing with Suzanne?
I am blessed to be practicing with Suzanne. I cannot imagine practicing without her. I can’t imagine doing much of anything without her. We can easily get lost into each other in day to day life. It is nice to have the Sun Soo community in the sense that we are each treated like an individual and are literally each judged based on our skills and efforts. I think we both enjoy that change up from being The Suze & Ev Creature.

What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
Arm chair model railroading (seriously), reading dead philosophers (seriously!), composing music, painting, board gaming, pumping iron and kickin…oh, right, this is on Facebook.

What is something people at Asheville Sun Soo probably don’t know about you?
I have written, recorded and released over 200 songs and created over 300 paintings under the anonymity of an alter-ego. I’m pretty proud of that, but don’t ask me to talk about it. I have issues.

Evan's natural intensity shines through during sparring

Evan’s natural intensity shines through during sparring

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment?
Honestly, upon much reflection, I would have to say the most memorable and useful moment was getting pummeled by a 14 year old at my first tournament. I think many many years from now, I will believe that was good for me.

In closing, I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the academy, there are too many people to thank in the space allotted, so I will just thank my parents, GOD, my Agent and Suzannne, the love of my life, who made me go to TKD because I was getting fat and grumpy.

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David Tindall makes the most of his Tae Kwon Do practice! Mon, 02 Feb 2015 23:52:31 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on David Tindall. David is an excellent martial artist and contributor at Asheville Sun Soo. David and and his wife Amy were both inspired to begin their Tae Kwon Do practice by their son, Chiron (age 12), who currently holds the rank of blue belt. David approaches his practice with an open-minded attitude and allows his classes to serve as reflections for his entire life. David and his family set a great example of teamwork, as they frequently practice together outside of class and gently push each other towards improvement. It is always very special when a parent follows the example of their child and starts a martial arts practice, and David is no exception. We are grateful for the openness, humility, and enthusiasm that David brings to his practice at Asheville Sun Soo. Tae Kwon Do is a vehicle for self improvement, and it is clear that David understands and applies this idea. Thank you David for being a part of our community!

What is your age? 46 (over 21)

What is your rank? Green

What is your occupation? General Manager, Mellow Mushroom Pizza

How long have you been practicing? One year.

Why do you practice? To improve upper-body strength, body awareness and self confidence

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far? The psychological aspects of body movement, especially starting to learn about the dynamics of physical interactions with others.

What are some of your other hobbies/interests? Hiking, concerts, bicycling, table games with family.

What is something people at Asheville Sun Soo probably don’t know about you? I volunteer at WNC Group Homes for Autistic Persons as Human Rights Committee Chairman.

What is your Tae Kwon Do moment? I have two…seeing my son in his first class (first in our family), and seeing my wife in her first class.

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Olivia Miller – A fantastic athlete and friend! Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:00:30 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Olivia Miller. Olivia is a fantastic student at Asheville Sun Soo. Olivia trains with her Mom, Jenny and her younger brother, Crede. Olivia is a talented athlete (running, tennis and Tae Kwon Do) and responsible student who maintains her commitment to her Tae Kwon Do practice, creating discipline and excellence in her busy life . We appreciate Olivia’s helpful attitude and her inclination to make new friends and be inclusive of everyone – a great contribution to our community at Asheville Sun Soo. She additionally contributes by frequently volunteering at Kid’s Night Out and participating in the teen service projects. Olivia has made great progress at Asheville Sun Soo, both physically and emotionally and we are excited to celebrate her progress with her as she tests for her Junior 1st degree black belt in the near future. Thank you Olivia for being awesome and for your contributions here at Asheville Sun Soo!


How old are you?

What is your rank?
Recommended Black Belt

Where do you go to school?
North Buncombe Middle School

How long have you been practicing?
5 years

Why do you practice?
Because I enjoy it and love progressing throughout the ranks. I like learning new forms and other curriculum. I’ve also made some great friends.

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far?
All of it! But mostly forms.

What are some of your other hobbies/interests?
Playing the cello, playing tennis, running

What is something people at Asheville Sun Soo probably don’t know about you?
I enjoy watching Sherlock, Doctor Who, and The Office. I also love England and playing sports.

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment?
I love it all!

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Micah Philipp – a 9 year old powerhouse! Mon, 19 Jan 2015 19:36:01 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Micah Philipp. Micah practices with his older sister Maya and helped to inspire his aunt Sarah to practice as well. Micah is currently a red-black belt and has been steadily improving since he started 2 years ago as a white belt. Micah has a great attitude and can be counted on to give 110% on any day, regardless of the circumstances. We love how Micah has persevered through the challenges presented by his Tae Kwon Do pracitce and the maturity he shows through consistently high motivation. Micah is an inspiration to his peers and teachers alike and we are proud to have him as a student at Asheville Sun Soo!

micahphilippAge: 9

Rank: Red-black

Where you go to school: Rainbow Community School

Why you practice: When I do the moves I inspire myself.

How long you’ve been practicing: 2 years

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: Learning the moves.
Other hobbies/interests: Basketball, reading

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I like to draw and build.

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: When I broke my first board.

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Linda Yaverbaum has fun AND gets it done! Tue, 06 Jan 2015 14:06:09 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Linda Yaverbaum. Linda is a hard working person both on and off the mat. She spends long hours in the ER at her job, and then on her breaks, regularly comes to class. We are inspired by her high energy and her commitment to living a life that impacts others in a big way. Linda is patient, funny, and humble. She can be frequently found helping newer students and making friends on the mat. She is a living example of someone who has learned how to take her practice seriously and still keep it fun. Sun Soo would not be the same without her and we are truly grateful to have Linda as part of our community.

lindayaverbaumName: Linda Yaverbaum
Age: 44 (over 21)
Rank: Red-black

Occupation: PA in Mission Hospital’s Emergency Department

Why you practice: Sanity, community, exercise, love of martial arts, stress relief.

How long you’ve been practicing: I’ve been practicing at Sun Soo since August 2013. I previously practiced TKD and Tang Soo Do…I started a LONG time ago.

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: The people/community.
Other hobbies/interests: Hiking, biking, soccer, eating 

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I’m really a tall blonde…

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: Every time a kids breaks a board on their exam. I love to see that.

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Katie Parsons spreads the love at Sun Soo! Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:16:05 +0000 Our student spotlight this week is on Katie Parsons.  Katie is a fantastic student who is constantly giving in every sense of the word.  Katie gives 110% in class – she sets a great example, stays focused, and gives each move her all.  Additionally, Katie contributes to a positive class environment by treating the teachers with respect, and showing remarkable compassion for other students.  It is common to see Katie going above and beyond to make sure someone else is included.  We are so grateful to have Katie as a student here at Sun Soo!  She spreads the love every day without fail!

Katie Parsons Sun SooAge: 9
Rank: Red-black

Where you go to school: Weaverville Elementary School

Why you practice: Master Morris came to my school once and did some work with us and I wanted to learn how to do it all.

How long you’ve been practicing: 2 ½ years

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: Getting to know all the people!
Other hobbies/interests: Singing, dancing, playing piano, and reading

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I love to sing and dance!

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: My first testing

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7th degree Master Mark Nathanson to attend December Testing Tue, 09 Dec 2014 14:38:07 +0000 We are pleased to announce that 7th degree Master Mark Nathanson will be joining us at Asheville Sun Soo for our December testing. Master Nathanson has been a long time member and contributor to Taekwon-do International and a student of Grandmaster Kim’s for nearly 40 years. Master Nathanson is accomplished in his life both as a martial artist and as a podiatric surgeon. He is also a devoted husband and father of three awesome kids. Master Nathanson is a fantastic instructor with a great sense of humor and we are excited to have him as a guest this month!

Master Nathanson began his Taekwondo practice in 1976 at Grandmaster Kim’s first school in Bergenfield, New Jersey. He had some boxing experience but wanted to expand his skill set and had a friend who was practicing with Master Kim at the time. In summer of 1979, Master Nathanson earned his 1st degree black belt and was soon after teaching basic classes at the school. From 1979 to 1983 he competed on the Ohio State University TKD team and taught classes for the school’s Tae Kwon Do club.

master nathansonMaster Nathanson’s early martial arts career was defined by intense training and frequent competition. He says he has competed in 200-300 tournaments in his life…many that went well and many that didn’t. Some of his career highlights include competing for the USA in the Americas cup in 1980, being the captain of the Ohio State University team for 4 years straight, and competing in either the US collegiate nationals or the USA nationals for each year in college.
Master Nathanson cites Grandmaster Kim as his greatest influence and says that he continues to look up to him after several decades of being his student. Master Nathanson also fondly remembers Master Ruben Cassenova, who recently passed away, as one of his favorite teachers. Although Master Nathanson initially found him to be intimidating, he ultimately is grateful to Master Cassenova for teaching him how to be tough and how to exceed what he thought he was capable of.

Another career highlight for Master Nathanson occurred when he was invited to train at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs in 1980 after placing second in the middle weight category in the state of Ohio. After four days of high altitude training, he says he couldn’t wait to get home. He also traveled to Korea with Grandmaster Kim in 1995 and trained at the Kukkiwan (the world Taekwon-do headquarters) for “ten glorious days.” His last tournaments were in 2003-2006, and he counts himself as “lucky enough” to compete in and sometimes win grand championships in breaking, patterns, and sparring. Master Nathanson does not compete anymore due to his high rank, but he still misses it!

Master Nathanson’s favorite element of Taekwon-do training is the constant search to find a better way to do things and then to try to find a way to impart that knowledge onto others – he says “it makes it feel brand new to me every day, despite the many years I have put into it. I love to see those that I teach actually ‘get it’… it is the greatest feeling one can have.” Master Nathanson also loves practicing and teaching basics. He enjoys the challenge of seeing how each individual person moves and then trying to figure out how to teach them how to use the Taekwon-do in such a way as to fit their body. As an instructor and as a practitioner, Master Nathanson believes that this process helps him to make improvements.

As part of his life-long commitment to fitness and athleticism, Master Nathanson’s other interests include weight lifting, running or biking. He is also dedicated to working hard in the office to help his patients. However his ultimate passion is his family. His oldest son has autism and is non-verbal, and Master Nathanson is praying for the moment when they will get to have a conversation…”that will be a great day,” he says. He describes his wife and all three kids as his wonderful “heart and soul.”

Master Nathanson's kids - Sam, 9, Maya, 6, and Hannah, 3

Master Nathanson’s kids – Sam, 9, Maya, 6, and Hannah, 3

Master Nathanson has visited Asheville Sun Soo once before and he is most excited about seeing all of the instructors and students again. His words of encouragement for students testing this time are these:
“We all think we are not prepared…we all think we are not ready….that’s ok, that’s what makes your test so rewarding…it is something you do that is hard, stressful, and yet at the end of the day…so worthwhile. This is an important thing one gets from Taekwon-do for life…we are not always ready for what life brings, but if we meet challenges head on, and do our best, we will always be ahead of the game. And always remember that those who come to watch you have come to watch you succeed, and simply by stepping out on the mat, you have done just that.”
We are thrilled to welcome Master Nathanson back to Asheville for our testing this December. He is an exceptional teaching resource in the larger Taekwon-do community and we are lucky to have him as a guest judge. We are also looking forward to the seminar that he will be teaching Saturday morning for our black belts. Thank you Master Nathanson for taking time out of your busy life to be with us next weekend!

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Master Dan Bourelle to visit Asheville for December testing Wed, 03 Dec 2014 18:40:57 +0000 Master Dan BourelleWe are excited to announce that Master Dan Bourelle, owner and head instructor of Wilmington Martial Arts and Fitness Center, will be joining us as a guest judge for our testing this December. Master Bourelle holds a 5th degree in Hapkido, a 4th degree in Taekwondo and has been teaching martial arts for over 15 years. In addition to being an accomplished martial arts instructor, he is also a certified personal trainer and certified MMA conditioning coach. It is clear that Master Bourelle is an energetic, passionate and dedicated instructor and we are greatly looking forward to his visit!

Master Bourelle began his martial arts practice when he was 13 in Norfolk, NE, in 1993. His older brother paid for them both to take Hapkido classes as a birthday present. However the Hapkido classes were mainly for older students, so Master Bourelle opted to join Taekwondo classes first in order to “earn” his way into the Hapkido classes, which were primarily taught for law enforcement officials. He has continued to train in both arts, and additionally the sword art of Gumbo, for nearly 20 years.

When askMaster Dan Bourelleed about his greatest influences, Master Bourelle cites his teacher, Master Fred Roskens, and his teacher, Master Ken Brooks. He says he still leans on their guidance by imagining what they would do if they were in his situation. The ninja turtles and karate kid also played a big role in Master Bourelle’s early interest in martial arts. Additionally, he appreciates Bruce Lee’s influence, because “he brought new ideas and philosophy into martial arts and changed people’s minds and perspective.” Master Bourelle says that he strives to do the same.

Master Bourelle began assist teaching martial arts shortly after earning his 1st dan at the age of 16. He had not planned to be an instructor, but simply felt like he was doing his part to give back as a black belt. He took the role seriously and stepped into the new responsibility – and was soon teaching all of the school’s Hapkido classes. He says that teaching felt natural and that it felt good have a positive area in life where he could help others and be respected by adults.

Part of Master Bourelle’s martial arts path includes creating new highlights and roadmarks for himself constantly. Previous defining moments of his martial arts career include unexpectedly placing 1st in a national tournament, and testing simultaneously for his 4th dan in Hapkido and his 3rd dan in Taekwondo. Finally, he describes opening and running his own martial arts school as one of the biggest accomplishments of all –
“After numerous years working for Architecture/Engineering Firm, I lost my job during the recession and decided to open my martial arts school full time. I thought for sure I was going to lose everything I owned to keep the doors open…the first thing I bought for the studio was a couch to sleep on, as I thought I would lose my house. Luckily, my house survived, and so did I, and so did my school! That couch still sits in my office at the school and reminds me that when you want something bad enough, nothing will stop you.”

Master BourelleMaster Dan Bourelle is clearly passionate about both practicing and teaching martial arts. He used to love competing when he was younger, but says that now his practice has evolved to have a deeper emphasis on self-defense, culture, and the forms. He says “I love Taekwondo because there are so many layers that I am still discovering after 20+ years of training.” His favorite element of teaching is seeing students push the limits of what they thought they could do, and then seeing them realize that those limits don’t actually exist! That moment, he says, is when he knows that someone’s life just changed for the better in a big way.

Master Bourelle’s other hobbies include baseball and softball, sand volleyball, music, and guitar playing. He also loves visual arts, and although he doesn’t paint, draw or sculpt often anymore, that passion for art still exists in him and continues to manifest in different ways.

This will be Master Bourelle’s first visit to Asheville Sun Soo. His teacher’s teacher trained under Grandmaster S.J. Kim, who is the founder and president of Taekwon-do International. He is excited to visit a new school and is going to be doing some filming at Sun Soo for part of a documentary. He says that he has learned something new from every school that he’s visited and is excited to see what will be unique about his visit to Asheville. Master Bourelle’s advice to testing students is this – “own it! Which means, accept your current skill level, give it your all, and apply the techniques so that they work for you!” He also added the following – “For those black belts testing, I’m going to pass along one of the best pieces of advice I was given about being a black belt. Good black belts do what they are told quickly and efficiently. Great black belts get it done without being told.”

Thank you Master Bourelle for visiting us and we are very excited to meet you and to share with you!

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