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Youth martial arts class empowers kids, aids abuse victims

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Dec. 17, 2013 at 7:39 p.m.


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CEDAR CITY — The students echo the call of the master at Iron Fists Tae Kwon Do: Their arms whip in precision to his voice; their legs lunge into the air and then land at attention.

The class is the brainchild of Johnny Oh. He is a Korean native who has lived in Cedar City for the past five years, working with Korean students at Southern Utah University.

But on any given Wednesday night, Community Aquatic Center at 2090 Royal Hunte Drive, you can see his tae kwon do class of 25 kids kicking, punching and yelling.

"It's about defending yourself," student Charlie Davidson said.

But in Master Oh's class, the students are not only learning self-defense; they're also learning about discipline, concentration and self-confidence.

"My favorite part about it is doing all the demonstrations in front of people," said Megan Allred, who has been a student in the class for about a year.

Master Oh is a fourth-degree Black Belt, which means he's highly skilled, but to the kids in his class and their parents he's a bit of an unsung hero.

"He ends every session trying to instill some values," said John Allred. "He'll have a conversation about, ‘What did you do good this week?'"

"It's about your goodness," Charlie said. "This is all about being friendly."

Oh started the tae kwon do classes in his spare time two years ago.

Celebration for Iron Fist and Canyon Creek Women's Crisis Center

Come celebrate Iron Fists' $10,000 donation to the Canyon Creek Women's Crisis Center.

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 18
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Cedar City Aquadic Center, 2090 W. Royal Hunte Drive
Details: See tae kwon do demonstrations, learn about CCWCC and the history of tae kwon do, and enjoy refreshments

"Everyone has something that can add value to the community," he said.

Oh was inspired to begin teaching the martial art to kids because his friend was the victim of domestic violence, and he saw it as his way of helping her and others.

Oh donates 100 percent of the money from teaching the classes to the Canyon Creek Women's Crisis Center in Cedar City.

"(The crisis center) was such a great help supporting her and helping her recover physically and emotionally," Oh said. "Through this friend, I've learned and realized how many women, how many men, and how many families are affected by abuse."

So far, Oh has raised $10,000 for the Center. But Oh hopes his efforts will also inspire others to serve their communities.

"I think you will love the community if you can find a way to serve them," Oh said. "I would also like to help people to embrace diversity and work with people around them."

Iron Fists Tae Kwon Do and the Canyon Creek Women's Crisis Center will celebrate the $10,000 milestone Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.

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Nkoyo Iyamba

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