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Taekwondo instills courage and confidence

Dave Paul The Journal Mark Warburton believes in the virtues of martial arts.
Corina Migulea, 6, a yellow belt at the Sarnia Olympic Taekwondo Academy, practices her kicks with the help of her older brother Artur, a 12-year-old blue belt, under the watchful eye of master instructor Mark Warburton, 2016 Canadian Junior National Team coach. Submitted photo

Dave Paul

The Journal

Mark Warburton believes in the virtues of martial arts.

“I think martial arts are great for everybody – even if they don't end up competing,” just training in them is great for fitness, and promotes a number of positive character traits, such as courage, confidence, goal setting and improved attitude and attention span says Warburton, a Master Taekwondo Instructor, 5th degree black belt and 2016 Canadian Jr. National team coach.

With all of that in mind, Warburton, along with Master Jason McIntyre of the Sarnia Olympic Taekwondo club, are introducing an after-school taekwondo program to Sarnia this fall.

While the concept may be new to Sarnia, after-school martial arts programs are quite common in cities across Canada and “very big in Toronto,” says Warburton.

The taekwondo club, located in the basement of Paterson Memorial Presbyterian Church at 120 Russell St. South, will be offering after school pickup and transportation, Monday-Friday, from a half-dozen Sarnia elementary schools (P.E. McGibbon, Hanna Memorial, St. Matthews, Queen Elizabeth II, Holy Trinity and High Park). Students are welcome from any other schools, says Warburton, but the club is not able to offer transportation as of now.

Warburton stresses the club is “not a daycare facility” and that attendees will be part of a structured program that will actually be cheaper than babysitting and competitively-priced with other after-school programs. It will feature an hour-long taekwondo training class, followed by time set aside for homework and study.

Sarnia Olympic Taekwondo club has been operating for 18 months and has grown quickly, with approximately 100 students signing up since its opening.

Establishing the club was the culmination of a dream for Warburton.

“I always wanted to have my own taekwondo school,” he says. “Even when I was growing up … and in high school, I always knew I wanted to be involved with this sport long-term.

“And it means a lot to be able to do this with Jason. We grew up together,” adds the 35-year-old Warburton, who is still an active competitor in the sport and won a provincial championship this summer.

“I compete when I can … not as often as I'd like to,” he admits. But, he adds, he attends a lot of international competitions and high-level training camps and he is always on the lookout for new ideas, training methods and programs for the club.

“We're always trying to evolve,” he says. “I believe if you refuse to evolve, you get left behind.”

The club's after-school program is set to begin on the first day of school in September. Registration will still be available for a short time after the school year begins, as space allows.

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