Tae kwon do teaches principal lessons outside school

MFL MarMac Middle and High School Principal Josh Mallicoat and his son, Ty, work out at Pikes Peak, Colo., this summer at an elevation of 14,100 feet. (Submitted photo)

Ty Mallicoat does a flying side kick in the dojang, or hall, in Garnavillo. (Submitted photo)


By Audrey Posten


Five years ago, MFL MarMac Middle and High School Principal Josh Mallicoat discovered that Jung’s Tae Kwon  Do Academy, which is based in Cedar Rapids, had a satellite school in Garnavillo. Seeing it as a good opportunity for his son, Ty, who is now in seventh grade, Mallicoat took him to a class. After he spent two weeks at class watching Ty, one of the instructors asked Mallicoat if he would be interested in participating as well. Mallicoat agreed, beginning a journey that has helped him learn both in and outside school.


“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Mallicoat said of his decision to take up tae kwon do. “It keeps me going. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t do something tae kwon do-related.”


While Mallicoat said people are in tae kwon do for different reasons—stress relief, physical fitness, weight control or because they enjoy martial arts—its effect on the mind is often one of the most powerful.


“There are very few activities that ask you to blend body and mind at the same time continuously,” he said. “It’s not always about who’s biggest, fastest, strongest. Literally anyone can do it. It’s designed so everyone can participate and be successful.”


Students begin by learning basic kicks, stances and blocks, with an emphasis on the proper technique and focus. They also learn the proper etiquette and terminology, as well as how to operate within the class, which includes a mix of ages and belt ranks. Students must also learn the five tenets of tae kwon do—courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit.


Through all of this, Mallicoat said students, especially kids, can learn discipline, self confidence, structure, physical fitness, concentration, respect and rule following.


“We always ask the kids if they’ve used tae kwon do today,” he said. “Usually they say ‘no,’ but if you use courtesy, show self control or overcome  something, then you did.”


While Mallicoat likes the physical fitness benefits tae kwon do provides, he said it has also helped ease his mind.


“I get to concentrate on that,” he said of the time when he’s doing tae kwon do. “Anything else that went on during the day doesn’t matter. It’s a mental break.”


That has made him more effective at school as well.


“It helps me view situations from a variety of standpoints,” he explained, “and I always try to approach things with a high level of courtesy.”


Tae kwon do involves a belt progression system, with each new rank including new techniques and forms and combined forms. As he progressed through the ranks, Mallicoat said he learned through technique and ability how to explain and teach, which lent itself to a leadership role. As a result, he now teaches class one night each week. He has also been elected as a council member to the World Black Belt Association and will direct the Northeast Iowa Tae Kwon Do Championship, which will be held in April in Monona. 


Two weekends ago, both he and Ty represented Jung’s Tae Kwon Do in Hwang’s World Tae Kwon Do Championship in Louisville, Ky. They each competed in three competitions, with Mallicoat taking first in his division in forms, board breaking and sparring. Ty took first in forms and second in both board breaking and sparring.


With over 700 competitors, Mallicoat said the tournament was an awesome experience. 


“It gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our ability and be competitive,” he said. “Both Ty and I have done quite well.”


For anyone interested in participating in tae kwon do, Jung’s Garnavillo office offers classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, from 7 to 8 p.m. Mallicoat instructs on Tuesday nights.


To learn more, visit the school’s website at sites.google.com/site/northeastiowataekwondo/home.

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