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Master Andre L. Evans corrects Mizuki Cruz on his stance and form during tae kwon do practice at the Havelock Recreation Center May 13. The students can spend as many as 30 hours a week in Evan’s classes. Practices are held Monday through Saturday at the Havelock Recreation Center, Cherry Tree House and the Teen Center.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki

Marine children learn life lessons from martial arts

21 May 2011 | Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki

Two young fighters from Cherry Point fought dozens of opponents to get to the North Carolina State Tae Kwon Do Championship, and neither could accept leaving with a second place trophy. They advanced on each opponent, trading body blows and attempting to get inside the other’s defenses. One succeeds, knocking the other down with a swift kick to the head. One stays down, and the other progresses to the next round.

The two local fighters emerged victorious from the tournament. Brandon A. Monk, 10, won the boy’s purple belt tournament; while Danielle R. Kuhl, 16, won the girl’s blue belt tournament. As the tournament victors, they have the opportunity to compete at the USA Tae Kwon Do National Championship in San Jose, Calif. scheduled for June 26 – July 2.

Monk and Kuhl learned their moves from a tae kwon do course held aboard Cherry Point and in the local Havelock community, taught by Master Andre L. Evans, a 5th degree black belt in tae kwon do. 

Evans said that Monk has practiced about 18 hours a week for about a year and a half, while Kuhl has practiced about 30 hours a week for more than two years. 

“The training is somewhat difficult,” said Evans. “It involves a lot of cardio, speed building explosion drills, and reaction drills using pads to simulate a fast moving opponents and reacting to that opponent.”

Though their training took a lot of time and effort, it enabled the two youngsters to win tournaments and also learn that tae kwon do is more than just fighting an opponent. Martial arts also teaches the students a new lifestyle with discipline, which can improve the lives of children.

“Some of the things we work on are responsibility, integrity and the ability to express ourselves truthfully and honestly,” said Evans. “We teach a whole value set because tae kwon do is a way of life. It’s a big part of my life, and I would like to share a lot of the wonderful things I’ve learned through tae kwon do with all of the students.”

The improvements in a tae kwon do student’s life come directly from the master actively teaching them life lessons through martial arts. Evans, who was a military child, said that he has a special understanding with his students because he knows what they’re going through as military children. 

“We originally enrolled Brandon in tae kwon do to help him learn some discipline and self control,” said Serene A. Monk, Brandon’s mother. “Not that he was a badly behaved child, but we were having some issues and it was suggested that martial arts would be a good thing for him. He’s learned so much respect, self control, and discipline that he never had before. It was the best thing we ever did for him.”

About 25 of Evan’s students are currently attending tae kwon do classes Monday through Saturday at the Cherry Tree House, the Teen Center, and the Havelock Recreation Center. For more information, call 876-5352.

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point