NYer Of The Week: Andrew Park Helps Young NYers Use Taekwondo As A Tool For Success
This week's New Yorker is showing his students how kicking and punching translate into discipline and dedication. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
They're learning courtesy, integrity, perseverance and self-control, all while getting a workout.
They're practicing the art of taekwondo, and Master Andrew Park is their leader and role model.
"I think we're reinforcing the children with what we spoke about before, like courtesy, respect, confidence, aside from just kicking and punching," Park says.
"I think he's a great teacher, and he helps us a lot," says Sky Choy, a student in the program. "It's really fun."
Park's passion for martial arts began as a child, when he moved to Flushing from Korea. His parents enrolled him at a local taekwondo school.
After college, he became a pharmacist, but soon realized that wasn't his real passion.
"When I'm thinking, 'I'm counting pills every day, I'm dealing with patients,' I couldn't see myself doing that for a very long, long time," he says. "I just fell in love with working with kids and just carrying out instruction, and I guess I fell in love with that. So I said, 'You know what? Let me have a place for it.'"
Eagles Tae Kwon Do School opened in 2011. Since then, Park has trained hundreds of children in all age groups. His students have won national championships. He's even nurturing future Olympic talent.
"We are pushing towards 2016 Brazil Olympics," he says. "We did just get back from Chicago, which was nationals. We came back with a couple of medals, and that was a big deal for us."
"He's been a role model to me for forever," says Jomo Mbele, a national Tae Kwon Do gold medalist. "We started here in a small place. He started first teaching me at YMCA, and now we're competing all over the world."
"I teach these guys that sometimes, the process of the race is very important, and not just the main goal sometimes, the end result," Park says. "So all the time spent sweating, and all the support that we're having, I think the whole process is something that you cherish, too."
So, for showing young New Yorkers how to use the art of taekwondo as a tool for success, Andrew Park is the latest New Yorker of the Week.