A new martial arts studio operating out of the West Guilford Community Centre offers classes for both adults and children throughout the week. /CHRISTINE CARR Staff

Martial arts is family with Kang Chul Martial Arts

By Christine Carr

West Guilford is getting a little bit stronger thanks to Kang Chul Martial Arts, a new martial arts studio running out of the basement at the West Guilford Community Centre. With classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Taekwondo offered for kids and adults alike throughout the week, students of all ages are benefitting from the increased agility and mental strength offered by martial arts. 

Master Instructor Kang, an 8th Dan Black Belt Master Instructor qualified by the World Taekwondo Federation, has 50 years experience in Martial Arts. Having studied taekwondo since he was 7 years old, jiu jitsu for the past 15 years, and with experience as an MMA fighter in his youth, he brings all of his vast experiences and passion for martial arts to his courses in West Guilford. 

Before moving to the Haliburton region, Master Kang operated a martial arts studio in Keswick, Ontario, and brought his passion and philosophy with him to the new West Guildford location. Kang believes in preparing students of all ages mentally as well as physically. 

“I am trying to help the kids be mentally strong. That is my main point. Anybody can kick and punch fast if they practice more than the others, but mental health is not easy. I teach the kids don’t give up. I’m not asking you to kick high or punch fast, I’m asking you to keep moving. It doesn’t matter speed or power or strength, just keep moving,” said Kang. 

An integral part of encouraging mental strength comes down to treating the class like a family. Kang’s philosophy of community building helps encourage his students to support and encourage one another. 

“We always stick around just like a real family. I always say to my jiu jitsu club, taekwondo students …  be like a family. If someone’s got some problem outside, you need to help them, because they are your family,” said Kang.

This philosophy resonates with his students, who appreciate how hard he is pushing them to improve and develop both mentally and physically. Renato D’Ambrosio, a member of his adult jiu jitsu class, described how Kang’s teaching style encourages and pushes him as a learner. 

“He is a great instructor. You can tell he used to fight professionally. I love the structure, the discipline, and the workout. It is a killer workout – by the end of it you are toast, but you feel really accomplished. You learn different techniques every class and it feels like chess when you are out there. It doesn’t feel like wrestling – it feels like you are thinking ‘ok, I can feel his weight here, so if I knock him here he will be off-balance’ and it’s mental and physical too,” said D’Ambrosio. 

Kang’s younger students see the improvement in their own skills as well. Eight-year-old Senna, who trains with her Dad Tom Ernst, coach of the kid’s jiu jitsu class, loves the confidence building that comes from the activity. 

“For Senna it is the confidence … being a little girl, and valuing strength and confidence. This is very different from some of the other activities that typically cater to girls. This has been really awesome for her. Really, really good when it comes to confidence building,” said Lauren Ernst, Senna’s Mom. 

Senna’s sparring partner, Connor, 8, has also learned a great deal in his classes. “With Connor it is the respect. He values what Coach Tom says. He always says, ‘I have to get my book out. Coach Tom gave it to me. I have to reach so many chapters before I go back’ because he doesn’t want to let him down. For him it is that respect factor of having responsibilities to follow through with,” said Kim Coughlan, Connor’s Mom. 

With a variety of classes offered for all ages and abilities throughout the week, you can learn more about the classes offered or sign up to try one out at kcmaschool.com.