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Martial arts school opens with a punch

In early November, Peyton resident Grand Master Sam Frazier and Grand Master Bonnie Welch, who lives in Southern California, hosted the grand opening of the world headquarters of their United States Tang Soo Do martial arts school, at 7358 McLaughlin Road.Frazier and Welch have three other schools in Southern California, all of which are directly supervised by them.Frazier said Welch is a celebrity in the martial arts world of women and is thought to be the first female Grand Master in the United States. Welch also is an executive for Pacific Bell.Tang Soo Do (pronounced “tong sue doe”) is a Korean martial art that teaches empty hand and foot fighting and self-defense, as defined by the World Tang Soo Do Association.According to the American Tang Soo Do Association, “Tang” represents the Chinese influence on this type of martial arts, “Soo” translates to “open hand” and “Do” is related to the Chinese word “tao” or “dao,” which means “way” or “path.”Welch said that Tang Soo Do is one of “the few activities you can actually do with your children where you’re on an even playing field.” Martial arts as a family can be a bonding experience that helps kids stay out of trouble when they become teenagers, she said.Frazier described the process of becoming a black belt.”It takes two and a half to three years of regular attendance, two sessions per week, with at least one day off between the two sessions,” he said.”Then, a master who has not participated in your study will give you a pre-black belt review. After six months, you’ll be permitted to sit for your black belt test. It’s a grueling test, but you’re not asked to do anything you can’t do.”Welch estimated that 3 percent of the students who start training make it to black belt. “Your training really begins at black belt. It starts getting fun. It’s just incredible what you get out of it,” she said.”It’s been my experience that if you make purple belt, you will probably make black belt,” Frazier said.Grand Master Jae Joon Kim awarded black belts to Welch and Frazier, he said. Frazier is a seventh rank black belt; Welch is a sixth rank black belt.”That mantle has been passed to us and [gives our students] a direct pedigree,” Frazier said.”It’s important in this industry to have a pedigree. If you don’t have a pedigree, you aren’t recognized on the world stage. That’s very important if you go outside the United States.”If you walk into a school in Europe – particularly France – they want to see your credentials, to show that you have a pedigree and that you’re recognized on the world stage. Otherwise, they won’t even invite you in.”Other countries are restricting weapons instruction, but it’s still possible to get weapons training in the United States, Frazier said.Frazier’s teenage grandson, also named Sam Frazier, demonstrated the use of his favorite weapon, the Do staff.”It’s my favorite weapon. You can use a broom stick or a stick you find in the woods,” the younger Frazier said. “It’s very maneuverable, and you have two striking surfaces. You focus the striking surface at the very tip, just like when you punch. It’s great for combat because you can keep going all day.”During the grand opening, some Lil’ Dragons (3 to 5 year olds) and teen and adult students were promoted to higher rankings.For more information, see

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