Local Tae Kwon Do Studio Sees Healthy, Continuing Growth


(Wednesday, September 19, 2007 9:29 AM EDT

It's not often you see children working out with their parents, but for Tony Horkan, owner of the Blue Ridge Tae Kwon Do studio, this is a common sight.

“We've even had grandparents training with their grandchildren,” Horkan said in a recent interview. “We've had three generations [on the mat] at the same time.”

Although about 60 percent of Horkan's approximately 85 students are children, his studio has a sizeable number of adults who practice the Korean martial art, and reap its rewards.

“I discovered adults enjoy a good physical workout, and increasing flexibility and their overall well-being,” Horkan said. “I think that, because of the increased popularity of martial arts with children, there is a misconception that it's a children's activity only. It's cross-generational in values and benefits.”

The studio offers a variety of classes, including a junior leadership program, open classes and the adult peak performers program, among others. Children must be seven or older to participate in the programs.

Currently a six-degree black belt, Horkan began tae kwon do when he was 10 years old, attracted to the self-discipline and health aspects of the sport.

In 1991, he opened Blue Ridge Tae Kwon Do in what used to be the Old Town Hall of Upperville. He said he has probably taught more than 600 students over the past 16 years.

Not all of his students come to the studio with the intent of studying tae kwon do, but a good number eventually take up the sport, and become long-time fans.

“I've found that many parents would bring their children, but end up training themselves for years,” Horkan said. “Currently, I have four master instructors who all began by enrolling their kids first.”

And Horkan sees the instructors at Blue Ridge Tae Kwon Do as integral to the studio.

“Our school has a wonderful staff of caring, experienced and professional instructors,” he said. “James Horn, Harold Bauch, Arch Randolph and Raymond Duchesne have all been training and teaching here for over 10 years. Pat Kidder and Robert Kidder also are outstanding teachers.”

Although the studio is in the thick of Hunt Country, and equestrian sports are more in the spotlight than tae kwon do, Horkan does not see this as a problem. Rather, he believes the two sports can go hand in hand.

“The benefits of martial arts - better focus, concentration, balance and agility - are all transferable skills for equestrians and for any other sports or activities,” he said.

Splitting his time between the studio, being a father and husband and running his farm, Horkan has a lot on his plate, but he is dedicated to Blue Ridge Tae Kwon Do and bringing martial arts to the area.

“I want to continue to be a small but quality school, where people can find a way to develop themselves physically, mentally and spiritually,” he said. “It's fun, and I love it.”

For more information on Blue Ridge Tae Kwon Do, call (540) 592-3171.

Blue Ridge Tae Kwon Do offers a variety of classes for all age groups.

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