FORT BENNING, Ga. Aca,!" "Honor, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control," Aubrey Lynch recited Monday in unison with the other tae kwon do students, "courage, community, strength, humility and knowledge."

Even though you might think otherwise, the 7-year-old wasn't limited from practicing alongside students almost twice her age and size.

In this class, certified instructor Bob Ford said, it's about rank, not size, and those 10 principles set the foundation for students as young as 5.

The principles, combined with physical training, give the Korean martial art the potential to positively impact their lives.

"They are required to follow those (principles) outside of this class," Ford said. "And I've had a lot of parents tell me they end up doing a lot better in school because of what they do here."

Ford is an International Tae kwon do Alliance certified instructor. He teaches 45-minute SKIESUnlimited classes at the youth services gym on Batzel Avenue.

"We teach discipline," Ford said, which is evidenced in the students' sound-offs.

"Yes, sir," the students said, when instructed to practice their kicks.

"Done, sir," they said upon completion.

Aubrey's mother, Carrie, said that's one of the aspects she likes most.

"It coincides with school and the way she behaves," Carrie said. "She's always been a good student, but this just helped make her better."

Carrie said the SKIESUnlimited program has also boosted her daughter's confidence.

"I love it, and I can't speak highly enough of the sport," she said. "To see girls kick like they do is incredible. As a mom of daughters, her having the self-defense was the main reason I put her in it. They are not intimidated by the boys, and that's what I want."
Ford said the techniques involved with the art are easily applied to youngsters.

"Tae kwon do is known as the art of hand and foot," Ford said. "There's not a lot of grabbing, there's punches and kicks, which is very easy for kids 5 years old and older to learn and do effectively."
Sparring, board breaking and form are some of the areas that students are evaluated
on.

And although Ford stressed individuality, others can draw inspiration from Aubrey who has quickly prospered during her two years of practice. She is a first-degree, level one black belt.

"My favorite advanced technique is the side kick," the 7-year-old said. "And I like sparring because I get to hit things. Sometimes I don't make it, but I still have confidence in myself."

Page last updated Thu January 28th, 2010 at 16:37