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Taekwondo class imparts focus, confidence

The Jr. White Belts class of Docarmo’s Taekwondo Center prepared for their upcoming lesson Thursday afternoon.

The Jr. White Belts class of Docarmo’s Taekwondo Center prepared for their upcoming lesson Thursday afternoon.

Anne Docarmo, owner of Docarmo’s Taekwondo Center in Montgomery and Greenville, opened her school to teach the physical aspects of taekwondo.

But along the way, her students also ended up learning life skills, quality lessons and gaining healthy boosts to their self-confidence.

According to Docarmo, it’s been scarily similar to her own foray into martial arts 44 years ago.

“I had an accident at Christmas time when I was 12 that opened my leg to the bone, so I was on bed rest for a while,” Docarmo said. “Shortly after I was off of bed rest, I happened to see a demonstration at the Montgomery Mall, and I was a very shy, little timid kid, and I don’t think my mom had any idea what I was getting into, because that was in the early ‘70s.

“I just saw a demonstration and thought ‘well, I want to do that.’ It was the right activity for me—I was empowered by understanding parts of my body that I never used physically before.”

Later, Docarmo would become the first female taekwondo black belt in Montgomery.  And a few years after that, she would open her own school, home to aspiring martial artists ranging from four years of age to 64.  The diverse pool of students Docarmo trains is a far cry from her own early experiences in martial arts.

“When I was coming up, it was very uncommon for children to be involved in martial arts,” Docarmo said.

“Since the Karate Kid came out, that really put a focus on having kids in taekwondo and martial arts in general, and I think it really allowed people to recognize that this is a really great benefit for kids.”

Those benefits manifest themselves in a variety of ways beyond the realm of physical fitness.

Given that the Korean martial art places a heavy emphasis on various kicking techniques, taekwondo strengthens lower-body strength and balance.

A number of studies would also suggest that kids who participate in taekwondo achieve more academically than those who don’t, thanks to memorization and presentational skills that taekwondo requires.

But the best benefits prove equally rewarding for the instructors, as well.

“We had a young lady who was terrifically shy, according to her mom, and she had a little bit of social anxiety,” Docarmo said.

“But it’s been interesting to see in the four weeks of class—and she’s never missed a class—that she’s become a lot more vocal.  She’s broken boards, and that’s very empowering.  As they continue through the ranks, it’s always interesting to see kids shine like that, and it makes me excited because in four weeks’ time we’ve not only gotten her, but we’ve gotten other kids like her. Seeing kids who have that type of social anxiety and being able to offer them something that can improve the quality of their lives.”

Though Docarmo’s Greenville satellite school, located at 806 Conecuh Street, is barely a month old, she’s reported an incredible response in her brief time in the Camellia City.

She was drawn to Greenville due to a growing demand from local families to expand her Montgomery-based operation, as well as the healthy population of Korean families in Butler County.

“We’ve done no more than distribute some flyers and set up our Facebook page, and we’ve had an unbelievable response,” Docarmo said. “With school being out, we’ve had better access to the kids, and we will be up to 70 members by the end of the month, and will likely double the class count per week by September from two a week to four. Just about every parent that has come in has said that Greenville needed this type of activity.”

Docarmo’s Taekwondo Center offers five 45-minute classes on Mondays and Tuesdays for students of various skill levels.

For more information, contact Docarmo at 334-220-5835 or view the Docarmo’s Taekwondo Center Facebook page.