March 16, 2015 By Michael Florio
A former South Korean Army trainer plans to whip Long Island City into shape.
Jung Ju Ok, a fifth generation black belt, has opened a taekwondo school in the Power House (50-09 2nd Street), where he plans to teach students self-defense and discipline.
Tiger J Taekwondo, which opened January, is the only taekwondo school in Hunters Point, according to Ok.
Ok, who is the school’s head master, taught taekwondo for the South Korean Army from 2005 to 2007, where he taught 50 soldiers to be black belts. He then immigrated to the US in 2011 to be a taekwondo head master for World Champion Taekwondo, a school in Atlanta.
Ok practiced taekwondo for 20 years in Korea and graduated from the Korea National Sports University in South Korea, where he trained with gold medalist taekwondo students.
Ok lived in Atlanta until moving to LIC in 2014.
“We wanted to take our lives and careers to a bigger city,” Ok said. He said he picked LIC because his wife had friends in the neighborhood.
Seulki Kim, co-owner and Ok’s wife, said the two noticed that there wasn’t a school in the neighborhood after moving here from Atlanta a year ago.
“Those who have signed up with us say they were looking all over for taekwondo classes,” she said.
Tiger J Taekwondo offers classes to adults, families, teenagers, kids in grade school—as well as little tiger classes for kids from 3-to-5-years old.
He said his classes differ from other martial arts schools—since many others have instructors who work under a head master to teach the classes. He said at his school, he is the instructor.
“I interact with students physically and mentally. I run, play, teach and train with the students in the class and my members really appreciate it.”
The school is open Monday through Saturday.
So far, a little over 40 members have signed up for classes. However, Kim said she expects business to pick up when the weather gets better.
“Those who have signed up enjoy themselves,” she said. “They are very excited.”
Ok said it typically takes three years for a student to qualify for a black belt test. There are 11 belts prior to reaching black belt, he said.
After one year a student will usually reach the green belt, the fifth belt, Ok said.
Each belt has a different philosophy, starting with the white belt that teaches focus, all the way to black, which teaches leadership.
Any student of Tiger J Taekwondo who reaches the black belt level will receive a certificate from Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Headquarters.
“The certificate will be recognized all over the world,” Ok said.
Ok said taekwondo can benefit both adults and particularly children, since it teaches them self-defense as well as etiquette and respect.
“There are a lot of young children in the community that can benefit from this,” he said.