Plenty of Tae Kwon Do centers dot North Texas and the Mansfield area and are taught by quality instructors.
So, some may be surprised to learn the Mansfield Activity Center sponsors a Taekwondo (TKD) program taught by a master who has been involved with the martial arts for 45 years.
Master Seung Kyu Yang started TKD when he was five years old in South Korea and has been working with the City of Mansfield since 2001, when the facility at Wisteria Street was initially opened.
Yang, who received his bachelor of science degree in Taekwondo at Yong In University in South Korea, is a seventh degree black belt in TKD, seventh degree black belt in Hap Ki Do (self defense), fourth degree black belt in Yoo Do (Korean form of Judo), third degree black belt in Kum Do (sword technique martial arts) and has also picked up kickboxing.
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His background and experience has also landed Yang in a few Korean martial arts films. In addition, Yang developed various techniques for maneuvers such as hitting a standing back-flip and leaping eight to nine feet into the air to break a board with each foot.
What Yang brings to the City of Mansfield is something which reaches beyond fitness and self-defense.
“We’re proud residents of Mansfield for 13 years,” Yang said of he and his wife, Angela. “It’s quite rewarding to take part in teaching and cultivating our students and teaming up with parents and teachers with the common goal of helping them mature into fine contributors of our community, our society.”
“The TKD program should be offered especially as a city-sponsored program to reach out and offer good opportunities to growing youngsters and adults,” Yang said. “Also, a city-sponsored program is especially great in reaching out to newcomers so they can build a strong bond with our existing community members while they train together and develop one another.”
The majority of the students Yang teaches are kids 4-17, but he does instruct more intense classes for those 18 and older.
Yang seems to be most proud of his students who were otherwise shunned by other elements in their world. Kids rejected from other schools or with a handicap seem to find their way to Yang.
“We can instill confidence,” Angela explained. “The trouble-makers and kids who don’t know how to release anger that nobody wants to deal with,” she said of those who have blossomed in the program. “They find support and compassion from the other kids. It’s a unique environment.”
“We embrace students who need extra care,” Yang explained. “By being in the classroom setting as TKD members, we noticed they begin to build confidence as they discover their own capabilities while training with other students.”
The difference, Yang explained, is the focus on TKD not as a mere sport, but as a martial art where philosophies are instilled to enrich both the body and mind, deeply rooted in trust, respect, humility, courage and an emphasis on moral values.
“We want our students to enhance themselves continuously to be responsible citizens and leaders of our community,” he said.
Angela said her husband once shared his views about Taekwondo in an analogy:
“As a barley sprouts and grows up, its head shoots upward, fearlessly. However, as it matures, its head learns to bow down in humility. The same logic is applied in the martial arts learning process. Taekwondo is not about fighting, but about self defense. It’s about a continuous process of disciplining our own attitude both mind and body.”
Yang will be directing a demonstration team at the conclusion of the Texas Rangers’ game on July 11, prior to the fireworks display.
The Taekwondo classes at the Mansfield Activity Center are conducted Monday-Thursday evenings. For more information on the classes, call the MAC at 817-453-5420.