MCL: Briefly tell us how you became interested in martial arts and how you became passionate about the benefits?
Jason Griffin: I became interested in martial arts when I was 12. I really wanted a challenge athletically and Taekwondo gave me the ability to be part of a team, but also to move as fast as I wanted based on individual effort. I believe my Taekwondo training has played an integral part in making me who I am today—as an athlete, as a person, and definitely as a father.
MCL: Your school has evolved over the years. It’s not just for children. Who else benefits from being skilled in Taekwondo? How is it practical?
Jason: Taekwondo is perfect for, and has benefits for, every age. For our younger kids, it teaches them discipline and gives great structure. Their hand and eye coordination is worked on every day in class as we kick and punch targets. Because of the discipline we instill, I have had numerous coaches call me out of the blue and tell me how coachable my Taekwondo students are in baseball and soccer. Our teens are a special group because at that age many either continue in sports or stop all together. In Taekwondo, there is no bench time—everyone trains and grows and gets involved in class. Our adults get all of the benefits of our younger students, but there are other reasons adults love martial arts training. First, they get a great workout on top of the stress relief they get from hitting our heavy bags. They are learning to be comfortable in a self-defense situation every time they train. It gives them an athletic outlet—a chance to be part of a team again and gain physical and mental strength that carries over into their everyday lives.
MCL: We live in such a sports-worshipping culture. Can a person who lacks great athletic talent excel here?
Jason: I really just want improvement from every student at every athletic ability. In some sports, they might start too old to really get the fundamentals. In our lessons, regardless of the age of the student, we teach beginner skills. We take everyone from stances, to proper hand position of how they make a fist, how to punch, how to move athletically. There is no contact (they don’t get hit) as a beginner, so students can learn the basics without the fear of getting injured. Safety is one of my biggest concerns. Students can only train constantly and consistently when they are healthy, so we do everything possible to set them up for success and longevity. Consistency is the key to growth.
MCL: Your school is known for incorporating character lessons in its curriculum. Is that a Jason Griffin thing or does Taekwondo seek to train more than just the body?
Jason: Life skills have always been a part of Martial Arts. For me as a Christian, I see so many parallels from the bible that are found in our tenets of Taekwondo. Our first tenet is Honor. The students memorize our quote, “Honor is a gift I give myself. I honor my family and instructors by doing what is right when no one is watching.” We take one tenet and study it over a two-month training cycle. We spend two weeks on how we use it at home, two weeks at school and work, and two weeks on how to use it in our community. Our goal is that you will review all of our tenets at least 3 times by the time you reach your first black belt. Our organization, TIGER ROCK MARTIAL ARTS, is using it in over 100 locations. Students are asked to do 10 acts of kindness for every two- month training cycle. At this point, we have logged over 500,000 acts of kindness during my 19 years teaching here in the area. That’s something that I’m very proud of, that my students take these small acts to make our city a better place.
MCL: Do you offer a summer training program for kids who are playing organized sports during the school year? What would be the benefit for a summer of Taekwondo?
Jason: Our summer program is our most popular of the year. School is out, schedules are lighter and after the first few weeks of summer freedom parents start to hear, “I’m bored!” We offer a two-month course that fills the summer gap. It’s crazy hot here in the summer. So instead of becoming a coach potato, they can attend Taekwondo classes. We offer a flexible schedule, so if you are on vacation for a week it’s not a problem. I offer five lessons a night, six days a week. We recommend students attend any two on any day they like. If the kids are driving you crazy, you can always bring them more and I’ll try to wear them out for you!