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Antonio Martin – Morningside Elementary

Master Martin, who is currently an 8th degree black belt teacher in Taekwondo, is a volunteer Taekwondo teacher at my daughter’s school. He has been teaching one-hour Taekwondo class at school gym free of charge for the past several years on Monday and Wednesday mornings before class begins. When my daughter, who is in third grade now, enrolled at the school, she signed up for the free Taekwondo class as a beginner and has been learning it with Master Martin for more than 2 years. Not only does Master Martin teach during the regular school year, he also continues to teach the free Taekwondo classes during summer break on Monday and Wednesday mornings on school playground (due to school closure). But that’s not all. Master Martin also offers a free 2-hour Saturday morning lesson at his home studio for students that have earned a black belt to continue to sharpen their technical skills.

Master Martin is one of the most diligent teachers my daughter has ever had. His generosity and kindness in offering free Taekwondo class at Morningside School has benefited my daughter tremendously. Though he does not teach any academic subjects, and is just a volunteer, he has taught my daughter a very important life lesson – character-building. Not only does my daughter learn the martial art skills from him, she also learns the principle of discipline, courage, hard work, and respect for others and especially for parents, an integral part of this Korea-originated martial art. I can’t say enough how important it is for our younger generation to show their respect for their parents. At this day and age, respect for parents is a rarity, but should be greatly emphasized and taught everywhere.

Through the learning of Taekwondo, both character principles and techniques, from Master Martin, my daughter has developed a strong sense of standing up for those who are in need of friendship. She often befriends new kids at her school to make them feel welcome. After a little over 2 years of Taekwondo training with Master Martin, she passed the first degree black belt test last October at age 8. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful volunteer teacher in my daughter’s life. Because of Master Martin’s encouragement and teaching the principles of hard work, discipline and respect, now she continues to work on her second degree black belt test with great passion, and shows great respect to people, either at school or at home. But what struck me the most was at the ceremony when my daughter passed the black belt test last October. Toward the end of the ceremony after giving students the certificate and a set of new black belt uniform, the Grand Master asked the students to show their respect by bowing to their parents. The Grand Master gave the reason why. He said that your achievement today is because of your parents’ selfless sacrifice for you, so you will now show your respect for them. At that moment, I peeked around, and didn’t see a single soul with dry eyes. All of us (parents) had joyous tears in our eyes smiling at our child. I think this is what this nation is lacking right now and I wish more students can be taught these incredible skills, most importantly the character-building of Taekwondo. I would like to thank Master Martin for not only introducing such a fine martial art to my daughter, but also the most important life lesson.

–Yiwen Chung