Kickin’ it in the park
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Fourteen-year-old Erin Chang takes deep deliberate breaths Sunday as she stands over two concrete blocks. With a crowd watching, the Carson High School freshman brings her hand down, slicing in half the two-inch thick slabs.
She’s been in tae kwon do with Grandmaster Chi Duong for six years, For two of those, the shy teenager has made dust of concrete on her path to a black belt.
It’s like magic, what she and her classmates do when they power through rocks and boards or use samurai swords to slice through bamboo mats like butter.
Erin giggles uneasily when asked how she does it.
“I have no idea,” she said, a proud smile crossing her face.
Cody Campbell, 13, has been studying for six years. For the past three years, he’s been wowing family and friends with his block-breaking skills.
“At first I didn’t think I could do it,” he said. “But now, it’s easy.”
Since 1995 Grandmaster Duong has been teaching tae kwon do in Carson City. He’s been studying the Korean art of hand and feet since 1966 when he was in the South Vietnamese Air Force. Teaching it since 1976.
“A lot of kids, they know two things ” video games and video games,” said Duong, and eighth-degree blackbelt. “Doing this they learn everything.”
Sunday’s grand reopening of Duong’s Chi Kwan Tae Kwon Do school began with demonstrations and a barbecue in the park next to the Evergreen Center on Carson Street.
Duong said he moved from his former building on Highway 50 East because a nearby bar caused too much worry for him with his young students.
Among those is first-grader Saeed Mobaligh. Duong brought Saeed to the forefront so the tiny boy could show his grandfather the moves his grandmaster taught.
Saeed’s father, Obi, said he studied tae kwon do as a child in India. He knew the discipline that his son could learn from the ancient sport.
“It’s for self-defense, but also respect for elders,” Obi said.
Duong said he has everyone from 5-year-olds to grandmothers as students. His own son, Kim, is a fifth-degree blackbelt.
Born and raised in Carson City, Kim, 26, is serving in the U.S. Navy on board a ship in the Persian Gulf.
Duong laughs when he points out that he served in the military under the South Vietnamese flag that graces his business card, and his son serves under the American flag. The county Duong has called home since 1975.
“I love it here,” Duong said.