Ancient Martial Art Finds New Audience
In ancient times, what is now the Korean Peninsula was divided into three kingdoms at war. In those desperate times, an elite group called the Hwarang learned to make weapons of their fists and feet. With this skill, their kingdom united the region through battle. This martial art eventually evolved into taekwondo.
Jason Poos, an Edmond resident and Olympic coach, owns Poos Taekwondo Fitness & Sport. His father, Guy Poos, opened the studio more than 30 years ago. Guy learned the fighting style in Korea and started training Jason at the age of five. Now Jason and Guy are fifth and seventh degree black belts, respectively.
Poos Taekwondo currently trains about 200 students, ranging from younger than five to older than 50. “You can start at any age,” Jason says. “You just have to be open-minded and have fun with it.”
Jason’s mother, Kaye, began training in her mid-40s and she’s now a third degree black belt. “It’s good for you, as far as flexibility, and you can do it your whole life,” Jason says. “My dad is a testament to that.” Guy still trains at the school.
Many early cultures developed forms of unarmed combat, but taekwondo is unique because it places an emphasis on kicking techniques. An extended leg can reach farther and strike harder than a fist can, making a fighter trained in taekwondo especially formidable. Flexibility and strength are crucial to delivering high kicks, but philosophy, responsibility and mental focus are also essential to the art.
Jason says taekwondo is good for self-confidence, and the school upholds the tenets of integrity, perseverance, self-control, courtesy and an indomitable spirit.
“In 1988, it became an Olympic sport. When I saw that you could fight for your country, it got me excited to compete full-time,” Jason says. He fought on the U.S. National team in the mid-1990s, and that slowly morphed into coaching. “I started producing some really elite fighters,” he says.
Jason Neville, currently a member of the U.S. Olympic team, is a product of Poos Taekwondo and is also an instructor at the school. Many other national champions trained there, including Salar Faiazi.
Jason has been a U.S. National team coach since 2000. He’s twice been named “Coach of the Year” for the U.S. Olympic Development program, and he’s currently a team coach for the U.S.A. Taekwondo Olympic Organization, National Collegiate Taekwondo Association and the Amateur Athletic Union.
The U.S. Olympic team consists of eight men and eight women. Of those, two men and two women were selected to compete at last year’s Olympic Games in Beijing. The U.S. team took home two bronze medals and one silver medal. Since coaching spots were limited, Jason had to sit this year out, although he did attend the games to scout other countries. But he’s slated to coach at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Poos Taekwondo uses eight full-time instructors, several of whom are U.S. National medalists. The school trains in both recreational and sport taekwondo. The recreational style focuses on basic blocks, kicks and punches and students meet two to three times a week. More is expected of participants in the sport program, which is the path that can eventually lead to Olympic gold.
Taekwondo is typically divided into two styles. The sport version, which has become an Olympic event, is governed by the World Taekwondo Federation. The other is the traditional version, which is governed by the International Taekwondo Federation. Other variations also exist, such as the Songham Taekwondo Foundation, American Taekwondo Federation and World Traditional Taekwondo Union.
Both an art and a sport, taekwondo is not meant to encourage violence. It’s a discipline for the body and mind, and at Poos Taekwondo, the aim is to cultivate both aspects of the martial art in students young and old. For more information, visit www.poostkd.us or call 405-340-5212.