By Percy D. Luján
The Student Health Center is once again offering free taekwondo classes for everyone interested in learning about self-defense, and self-improvement.
The classes, taught by Grandmaster Byung Min Kim, are not aimed at teaching students how to defend themselves in a fight, but to live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.
“This program started because of my interest in taekwondo. I have been a student of Grandmaster Kim since 2001,” Cindy Kreisberg, Director of the Student Health Center (and a black-belt), said in an email. “We all benefited so much that I had been trying to bring this program to fruition at Lehman for many years. Finally, after the increase in the student activities fee to the health center, I could fund this initiative.”
This is the fourth semester of the program which now includes returning students with white and yellow belts. They now take the lessons in order to obtain the next belt of their training.
Grandmaster Kim emigrated from South Korea on 1974. On 1995 and 1996, Grandmaster Kim was the head coach for the Taekwondo US National Team. His teaching on taekwondo is aimed at increasing the happiness and health of his students through the teaching of this martial art.
Grandmaster Kim is a skinny man who at first seems languid, but he soon displays his superior agility and flexibility. Inside the Aerobics Room in the Apex, he gives a high kick to one side, then he sits on the floor with his legs stretched; he cannot only touch the tips of his feet, but he can put his elbows on the ground while doing it.
For Grandmaster Kim, real self-defense is not only about punching and kicking. He gave the students his five tenets: eat well, rest properly, practice daily with a positive mental attitude, do a good deed daily, and appreciate those around you. “For me, that is real self-defense,” he said.
Returning white-belt, and Lehman staff, Brenia De La Cruz said that the lessons have taught her discipline and pushed her more than normally. “It helps me break bad habits, literally,” she said. “You have to project and see the things you have to surpass.”
“I learned a lot about goal-setting, positive attitude,” said Master Erika Linthorst, one of the instructors, about her experience with this martial art. “Many of the things he [Grandmaster Kim] said have become a natural part of my life.”
The exercise is intense for those that are not very active. The first lesson, it included running in place, punching at ever increasing intervals, and push-ups. Grandmaster Kim asked his students to practice push-ups every day so they could do more each time. The second day’s lesson included kicking, punching and the four basic taekwondo blocks –- and more push-ups.
Sailu Bah, a staff member at the Admissions Office, enjoyed the lesson. “It’s a nice resource to have on campus. Something new, something challenging, something fun and exciting,” he said.
* The lessons are held every Tuesday from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Aerobics Room in the Apex.