Martial arts academy cuts ribbon on PdC location

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By Steve Van Kooten


Down Blackhawk Avenue, amid the cluster of restaurants, clothing stores and shops that occupy Prairie du Chien’s downtown district, the Traditional Korean Martial Arts Academy opened its doors for Business After 5 to celebrate its grand opening on Aug. 24.

On the walls were pictures of Master R.A. Saint, snapshots of his martial arts career as he journeyed around the world. In one picture, he shook hands with Pat Morita, famous for his role as Mr. Miagi in “The Karate Kid” (1984), while in Las Vegas. Saint has spent decades perfecting his skills in Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do and Korean weapons.

Saint, 7th Degree Black Belt and founder of the academy, has given self-actualization courses to companies and taught martial arts to children and adults for decades, and now he’s brought a slate of programs and classes to Prairie du Chien.

Saint explained Tae Kwon Do was initially developed to kill people in the jungle during the Korean War and didn’t shy away from calling it a “fighting art.” However, the potential for martial arts to benefit people isn’t limited to attrition.

“Now what we do today with the very same art is we enhance humans,” Saint said. “We help them become better version of themselves.” It’s the form’s philosophy that sets it apart from other physical arts. “It’s not about hurting people; it’s about helping people. Building a more peaceful world is one of our main creeds.”

The academy’s schedule is a busy one: structured classes for kids and adults run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays in the evenings and in the morning on Saturdays. 

For children, the academy will operate a summer camp program aimed to foster friendships, set goals for students and teach skills that will transfer from Tae Kwon Do practice to their lives at school and at home. As part of the curriculum, the academy has a list of rules children are required to follow at home to progress in their martial arts. The ten rules include respect for family and elders, neatness, hygiene and responsibility to themselves and others.

When summer wanes, the academy’s after school program will start, which will provide students in Kindergarten through sixth grade with transportation from school to the academy and supervision until 6 p.m. The school will also operate during early dismissals and school in-services to provide full day programming for their students. For school delays, the academy offers transportation to school.

Students will receive tutelage in martial arts; however,  Saint stated, “tutoring and coaching are what parents are asking for.” Coaches and instructors will assist students to complete homework before they go home in the evening.

“So when parents pick them up, they can enjoy family time,” Saint said.

Saint stated martial arts were for anyone, and the academy followed through on that mind set with the Mini-Tigers program. The weekly class provides a path for 3-5 year-olds to start their learning.

To the side of the tour, Zach Granzow, assistant instructor at the academy, watched his son practice. A Prairie native, Granzow started Tae Kwon Do with Saint at the Boscobel academy in 2018 alongside his son. Martial arts has allowed Granzow and his son to fulfill a mutual interest and find common ground.

“He’s interested, I’m interested; we have that shared connection,” Granzow said.

Granzow stated martial arts can provide tools for someone to overcome obstacles, and the academy is a space to practice mental and physical skills that are transferable. “I just think if I can break a board, I can break through this challenge I’m faced with at work or in my personal life.”

On the facility tour, Saint highlighted the climbing wall where kids could practice dexterity, strength and stamina. On the mats, several children were dressed in doboks. They practiced with instructors and each other; they watched, listened and emulated kicks and hand movements with the discipline and precision martial arts has instilled in students for hundreds of years.

Saint had “We Make Life Champions” painted above the doorway on the inside of the building, unnoticeable when a person entered and the last thing seen as they left. It’s not just a declaration; it’s a promise for those that choose to enter Saint’s domain.

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