Roughly translated, tae kwon do means "the way of the foot and the fist." With more than 2,000 years of history behind it, the ancient martial art mixes movements of karate and kung fu with Korean kicking techniques. Since 2001, Cincinnati TaeKwonDo Academy has shared this authentic style of tae kwon do with students of all ages—some as young as 4 years old.
Today, the academy divides itself into four age-appropriate programs. The Lil Leaders program, for instance, teaches young kids the basics, focusing on the eight specific skills—including coordination, speed, and structure—that are critical to performing tae kwon do and escaping the time-out corner. On the older end of the spectrum, the Impact Teens and Adult program splices tae kwon do training with functional fitness drills and reality-based self-defense practices.
Cincinnati Fitness & Boxing's 7,000-square-foot space once held the clatter and clang of a steel mill. Today, the sound of metal on metal has been replaced with the sounds of glove against pad, but much of the industrial charm remains. High windows above exposed brick and cinderblock walls cast light onto two full-sized rings, where welter weights and heavy weights alike learn from instructors as tough as steel. Their ranks include professional boxers, kickboxers, and MMA instructors, all of whom have the experience to carve rock-hard biceps out of any arms. One of their teachers, Marty Slone, once even sparred 100 rounds straight, a staggering accomplishment done to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Cincinnati Taekwondo Center fortifies its traditional martial-arts classes by also offering kimoodo classes. Known as "Korean tai chi," kimoodo imparts stretching, breathing, and meditation methods to students, resulting in physical gains such as greater flexibility, as well as mental and emotional benefits that may include better concentration and anxiety relief. These qualities carry over into the center's tae kwon do classes. Instructors don’t teach their students to pick fights or bully, but to defend and exercise compassion. As a result, kids and adult students build confidence and character, the frontlines of defense for most social encounters.
Since 1976, the instructors of TAMA Martial Arts Center have taught eight distinct disciplines—kung fu, muay thai kickboxing, and Brazilian jujitsu, to name a few. Some students work to master one discipline and others cross-train, learning a range of self-defense techniques. The classes are geared to specific age groups; kids aged 7–12 build self-esteem and motor skills in children's classes, and adults can enroll in more intensive courses and workshops on topics such as knife-defense techniques.