October 12, 1998
Photo by Scott Thompson
Austin Thompson, 9, who holds a Taekwon Do purple belt, breaks a board held by instructor Bob Crouch.
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALL--Bob Crouch could do double-duty as a drill sergeant. Using Marine-like commands, but spoken in Korean, he orders his Taekwon Do class to stand at attention. The students respond like good Marines should, with backs ramrod straight, waiting for the next command. It comes, and the students execute several quick martial arts moves.
Crouch, head instructor of the Duvall Taekwon Do school, is the first to admit he is a tough taskmaster who expects a lot from his students.
"It takes a lot of work and dedication," he says. "Students have to want to work hard."
Because he is a demanding instructor, he wants his students to know what they are getting themselves into before they make a commitment so he offers free beginners lessons.
"I want them to get to know me, so they can attend and not be charged at first," he says. "Then they can decide if they want to go on."
He should know. Now 23, he became a student early, at age 10, and achieved black belt status at age 14. He became an instructor at age 19.
Although Taekwon Do focuses on the physical aspects of self defense, there is more to it than that, he says.
He explained that an integral part of the art is training people to improve themselves, physically and mentally.
In the class is Nick Zuclich, a Tolt Middle School eighth-grader, who has been studying Taekwon Do for almost two years. He has earned a second-degree blue belt.
He says he finds the art helpful in his everyday life.
"It builds confidence and self-esteem," he says. "You feel good about yourself."
Nick said his next belt would be first-degree blue, followed by the purple belt, but "you have to break a board for that."
Crouch says students learn a series of "hyungs," a set series of moves against an imaginary attacker.
There is a total of 24 hyungs. Students must learn nine of them between the white belt and the black belt.
But the students aren't training to be fighters, Crouch said. "They are training to be better people."
He notes that the tenets of Taekwon Do, "courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit," are what the instructors are really trying to teach, more than the kicking and punching.
"I have been doing this for 12 years, and the only thing I have is a better toolbox," he said. "What that means is I have more to draw from--more techniques. We really want people to learn to avoid bad situations."
Crouch likes to start children when they are about seven or eight years of age, with the basic stance, warming up exercises and the first hyung.
Requirements for the next belt include demonstrating all the patterns that have been taught, and point style sparring that may include light body contact.
Crouch said the history of the Korean art is fairly recent. It was developed in the late 1940s and combines a lot of moves from Karate, including more kicking techniques than the other arts.
Crouch has been the instructor at the Duvall school since 1994. He holds a 3rd degree black belt. Assistant instructors include his wife, Kristen, and Kirk Werner, both of whom hold 1st degree black belts. Students can achieve up to nine degrees of black belt.
The Duvall school is affiliated with the Traditional Taekwon Do College of Edmonds.
Other schools linked to the Edmonds College include the Bothell YMCA, a school at the Maltby Community Center and the school in Carnation.
Regular classes in Duvall are held Monday-Thursday from 6:15-7:15 p.m. and from 7:30-8:30 p.m.
New free family beginners sessions are set for Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5-6 p.m. from Oct. 20 to Nov. 19 for ages seven to adult.
The free adult beginners class will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30-8:30 p.m. from Oct. 20-Nov. 19 for ages 15 and over.
The school is located at 14701 Main St. NE, Suite C-6. Call 206-516-2112 (voice mail) for information.