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Lifelong Lessons

Tae Kwon Do in Edina is More Than Exercise & Self-Defense

Article by Graham Johnson

Photography by Andrew Vick Photography

Originally published in Edina Lifestyle

When Grandmaster Sung Chan Chang moved from South Korea to Edina almost 7 years ago, it was always his intention to start a Tae Kwon Do school in his new home.  Having studied Tae Kwon Do for 42 years, Grandmaster Chang is a seventh-degree blackbelt in the traditional Korean Martial Art.  In South Korea, Grandmaster Chang owned and operated a gym called Paju for more than 10 years and graduated from the famous Yong-in University with a master’s degree in sport’s management specializing in Tae Kwon Do.  But more than that prestigious pedigree, Grandmaster Chang’s goal for Master Chang’s Yong-in Martial Arts was simple: “To spread the Korean tradition of marital arts such as healthy mind and healthy body through Tae Kwon Do so that everyone who participates gets to know Korean culture.”  And since 2019, they have been doing just that.

What many don’t understand about Tae Kwon Do, is the rigorous training extends beyond techniques and styles of defense to mental training.  “Tae Kwon Do isn’t just physical training.  Mental training is one of the main things we focus to,” says master Yunseo Chang, translating for Grandmaster Chang.  Because Tae Kwon Do is the traditional Korean martial art, it values respect highly: “Tae Kwon Do is pretty much South Korean culture where you have to respect and also respect your opponent when you’re in a competition.”  Says Master Yun.  The early stages of learning Tae Kwon Do specifically focus on mental training and respect.  “They also learn humility and basic social life skills through the Tae Kwon Do so that way students can learn what discipline is through those materials,” says Master Yun. 

In fact, mental training is so important to Tae Kwon Do, the last word ‘Do’ translates to “‘the way of life’ or ‘philosophy’ so that Tae Kwon Do isn’t just for self-defense. We also care about students’ personality and social life skills,” says Master Yun.  And it was that mental strength that appealed to Grandmaster Chang from the beginning.  The respect, perseverance, and confidence learned from Tae Kwon Do translated to everyday life: “He liked how he gained confidence from the Tae Kwon Do and had the mindset that you don’t give up easily,” said Master Yun. 

Grandmaster Chang opened his school in 2019 after discovering there was no Tae Kwon Do school in the area.  The school teaches all ages and levels: “Anyone who is interested,”  says Master Yun.  Grandmaster Chang’s Yong-in Martial Arts uses a belt curriculum starting at the white belt and moving all the way up to black belt.  The school runs on three month testing terms where students learn new techniques and practice for before a test at the end of the period.  But here again, mental strength is just as important as technique: “I know that technique matters a lot but what we want to see from students is their confidence, their effort, basically that they are trying their best.  They might make mistakes because they are nervous, but what we want to see is that they aren’t giving up and finishing what they started,” says Master Yun. 

Less than a year after the school opened, it had to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  “We were trying to rise up, to get better and better and get more members and suddenly the pandemic happened,” says Master Yun.  The school worked with pre-recorded lessons and Zoom classes, but “even though we tried our best it was always hard,” says Master Yun.  A key issue was the mirroring of video: “When we do a left hand motion it shows a right hand motion to students,” says Master Yun, which made teaching remotely even more difficult.  But despite that, the they didn’t give up: “As with Tae Kwon Do, we didn’t want to give up easily because that’s why we learn Tae Kwon Do,” says Master Yun.  Now the school is back to teaching in-person classes again to all ages. 

A final, key aspect of Tae Kwon Do are the five tenants of the martial art.  They are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and an indomitable spirit.  These are the tenants that students are expected to embody, not only while practicing, but in their lives beyond Tae Kwon Do.  It again underscores importance of mental strength integral to Tae Kwon Do and the just how highly the martial art values respect.  It is an important lesson that Grandmaster Chang and Master Yun continue to teach one belt at a time. 

To learn more, visit, call (952) 941-2210. 7043 Cahill Rd. Edina.