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Students at C.K. Lee Taekwondo Academy kick in for a good cause

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Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second: who wouldn’t want to break a wooden board with a furious Taekwondo kick or punch in front of several hundred cheering onlookers? Now, imagine the aforementioned spectacle will help a philanthropically-minded local business raise over $10,000 this year to bene t Nationwide Children’s Hospital?

You’d deserve a roundhouse kick to the sternum if you turned that chance away.

But worry not, all of you closet martial artists: there’s still time. Now for the fourth straight year, the Upper Arlington-based C.K. Lee Taekwondo Academy will host the aptly named Health Kick, an action packed fundraiser benefiting Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The event will offer the academy’s students, along with any willing audience donor, the chance to break a board in front of hundreds of their closest friends.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

“We go through around 1,000 boards every year,” said Christine Lee, daughter of the academy’s namesake C.K. Lee, so there’s plenty to go around.

The pair, along with two other family members, immigrated to the United States

from South Korea in 2011. They wasted no time in opening their now-thriving academy in 2013, which today serves nearly 300 students from the age of four to adult.

Christine is a dedicated student of Taekwondo herself. Having studied it since the age of seven, she is currently a regular sparring competitor and a bonafide instructor at the academy, all while maintaining a full time course load as a student at Ohio State.

Likewise, C.K., now 53, has been a student of the martial art since he was a child. “Taekwondo has a focus on self control, courtesy, and respect for others,” he said, speaking to the benefits of the practice. Lee adopts this same holistic, progressive approach to teaching as well. “Teaching Taekwondo is similar to being a father, where I’m caring and nice when I can be, but firm and strict when necessary. Many students consider us to be like a second family.”

Testament to Lee’s style of instruction is nine year old black belt Taran Tein, who attends the academy with his mother (and our very own photographer) Rebecca and sister Calliope. Tien recalls extracting more than simply martial arts training, but important personal lessons from sessions with C.K.

While Tien gushes about the kindness and enthusiasm of Lee, he recalls an important early lesson in his training career. “On one of my first days, I kept trying to show off things without listening. Later when I would try to high five master Lee, he didn’t high five me. He would put his hands behind his back.” Lee eventually took Tien aside and gently explained to him that listening to his instructions was critical to success. He remembers the event vividly, and it appears it has generated an amount of productive self awareness one wouldn’t expect from a 9 year old. “I feel like I’m more mature now,” he said. “There’s a reason he didn’t high five me, and I know that.”

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And when Lee isn’t providing paternal advice to his nearly 300 students, the Taekwondo Grandmaster is bestowing critical Columbus charities with funding.

In the last three years of its operation, Health Kick has raised $28,000 for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and a fundraising event that has always been solicited by the students.

The event is the Columbus-area iteration of a national fundraiser that began in Buffalo, New York, with Taekwondo Grandmaster Sun Ki Chong, called the ATU National Health Kick, or Kicking for Miracles. Since its inception, it has raised millions of dollars for charities across the county.

The 2019 C.K. Lee Academy Health Kick will be held in the Centennial High School gym, since the fundraiser is now too large for Hastings Middle School, its former venue, and the Lees expect well over 300 people to be in attendance.

Students from the academy will start the event by holding their final belt ceremony of the year, which will include students performing their forms—a coordinated series of kicks, punches and other maneuvers that martial artists must run through correctly to advance.

After another short demonstration of forms by the academy’s demo team, Lee’s students will begin breaking broads, and eventually audience members will be able to try their hand (or more likely their foot) at the task, after making a $10 donation.

According to Tien, donors need not worry about failing. “Everyone should be able to do it,” he said. “We’re trained to hold it the right way, and that makes it a lot easier to break.”

And while the many youth receiving care from Nationwide Children’s will no doubt benefit from the 2019 Health Kick, Lee’s unique approach to philanthropy aims to help his students just as much.

“I think that even though many kids won’t be able to raise $100, by raising even $1 or $2 they will be able to feel like they’re a part of the fundraiser,” Lee says. “They’ll see at the end how that small amount of money becomes over $10,000, and hopefully that act of kindness becomes a habit for them.”

The 2019 Health Kick fundraiser will take place at Centennial High School, located at 1441 Bethel Rd., on Saturday, December 7 from 10:30 AM until 1:30 PM.

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Columbus’s John Tortorella Coach of the Year finalist

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Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella / photo by Lori Schmidt

The NHL has announced that Columbus Blue Jackets head man John Tortorella is a finalist for the Jack Adams Coach of the Year Award. If he beats out Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins and Alain Vigneault of the Philadelphia Flyers, it will be the third time Tortorella has taken home the honor. 

He’s been a finalist for the award four times.

Not many seasons have been like this one, though. 

Before COVID-19 interrupted the Blue Jackets season, Columbus went 33-22-15 despite losing 419 man games to injury. 

Among those missing significant time for the Blue Jackets: last year’s leading goal scorer (Cam Atkinson), the team’s All-Star defenseman (Seth Jones), and All-Star goaltender (Joonas Korpisalo). 

Even as players fell to injury, the team rose to ninth place in the Eastern Conference, which qualified them for the modified postseason, which is scheduled for next month.

Columbus will face Toronto in Toronto for a best-of-five Stanley Cup Playoff qualifying round, the dates for the first games of which are set.

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Prior to that, Columbus will face Boston July 30 at 7 p.m. in an exhibition game. 

It won’t be long after that, Tortorella will learn if he is the NHL’s coach of the year. The winners of this year’s NHL honors will be revealed during the Conference Finals.

Hear captain Nick Foligno's thoughts on the Stanley Cup Playoffs below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6OyEsL0h68
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Ohio high school fall sports are on…for now

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Interim Executive Director of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Bob Goldring today announced that, as of now, fall sports are going ahead as scheduled. The decision as to whether to cancel play over COVID-19 concerns will be left up to individual schools. 

Goldring added that this could easily change. He talked about the fact that the governor might make a ruling that affects the ability of athletes, particularly those in contact sports, to play. 

There has been some discussion of pushing back the start date of sports in which the most contact occurs, particularly after This Week Sports reported an unknown number of local high school football coaches had suggested moving football to the spring, while having baseball staged in the fall.

Goldring did admit they have been looking at options and said they would be naive not to do so, especially because 80 percent of their revenue comes from ticket sales. Without games being played, tough decisions will certainly have to be made. 

 “The fiscal part of things is very much on my radar,” Goldring said. 

As to whether fans would actually be able to buy tickets and attend games if they do go ahead? Goldring said that, too, is ultimately a local matter. 

OHSAA may cut the minimum number of games a football team is required to play to qualify for the playoffs to account for the possibility of only some games being canceled. 

The board of directors is also still pondering the question of whether athletes can take the field if they are relying on virtual learning and aren’t allowed into the classroom. 

Right now, though, they are proceeding as if the fall season will kick off Aug. 1.

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Buckeyes back to work

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Ohio State athletics is permitting athletes from seven different sports to resume voluntary workouts after a pause due to an outbreak of COVID-19. 

Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade heads into a workout

The university said that all athletes were tested Monday before determining that the resumption was safe. 

“These young people come from across the nation and the world to be part of our Ohio State family, and we do everything we can to create a safe, healthy environment so that they have a chance to study and compete,” said Athletics Director Gene Smith. “Our medical team will continue to evaluate, and we will share decisions as we move forward.”

The Buckeyes have refused to say how many athletes have tested positive, but longtime beat reporter Tim May had said it was fewer than ten. 

OSU teams with athletes currently working out on campus are football, men’s and women’s basketball, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.

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