Teaching Youth to Focus on the Positive for Success Through Martial Arts
The Hapmudo Martial Arts Studio teaches children flexibility, strength and control for all the martial arts
When Grand Master Yong Sung Lee, a 9th Dan Black Belt, came to the U.S. in the 1970s from Seoul, South Korea, his dream was to continue teaching the Korean Martial Arts that were so important in his life. He opened his first Washington, D.C. metro area studio in Clinton, MD in 1983 and now has two additional studios, one in Georgetown and here in Annandale. Lee moved the studio to its current Columbia Pike location two years ago.
Lee’s goal when he opened the Annandale studio 20 years ago was to provide the Korean youth with the same level of martial arts training he experienced growing up. He now has a culturally diverse class of 175 students. “He’s always been on the cutting edge of blending the two communities,” said Assistant Instructor and Program Director Vicky Raeder.
Lee’s students learn how to count in Korean and are also taught general greetings in Korean, which become part of demonstrating respect for their teachers and each other. Students are also taught flexibility, strength and control for all the martial arts.
“Taking classes for the past six months has given me more confidence and made me stronger physically,” said Jane Werntz, a 9th grader at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, about Hapmudo.
“I stress using the skills to avoid aggression. Most of our kids don’t fight. If you have the knowledge of the skills and a positive self-image, you don’t need to use the skills offensively,” Lee said. “We study Hapmudo to become a better person. We don’t teach competition, but focus on happiness, health and harmony. When you are self-confident, happy and self-motivated, you become a good citizen, a good role model and good things are coming from you."
Parents of enrolled students are enthusiastic fans, noting their children have become more organized and responsible and are getting better grades. “My daughter is very excited about her progress and looks forward to knowing more self-defense. She enjoys the techniques and friendships she’s making,” said Daysi Olivera, whose 14-year-old daughter Gabriella attends three beginner classes a week.
Raeder said she is especially proud that Hapmudo is involved in the community and have contributed toward many causes including relief for Haiti and Katrina, Avon Breast Cancer, and Doctors Without Borders. “We support each other—we’re one big family,” said Raeder.
There is a second studio for the After School Program located diagonally behind. The After School Program, which began nine years ago at the request of parents, is limited to 30 students in kindergarten through 8th grade. The program provides bus pickup at local schools, homework supervision, crafts and a structured afternoon with an emphasis on nutrition and exercise. There’s a waiting list for the program and students are expected to maintain good grades and include at least two weekly martial arts classes in their schedule. Hapmudo also has developed other programs in response to community needs such as a Spring Break Camp and Summer Camps with trips and swimming along with martial arts classes.
Hapmudo’s next Tournament and Exhibition is Saturday, Jan. 29 through Sunday, Jan. 30 at the Crystal City Hilton in Arlington.