FSCJ Kicks and Punches its Way to Safety

As Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Tang Soo Do Club approaches its 10th anniversary, club members are celebrating the milestone one kick at a time. Charlie Phillips, faculty advisor and digital media professor says the club is about more than just kicks and punches. “Your body holds your spirit and your mind and you have the right to protect your mind and spirit,” Phillips said. “A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.” Although the Tang Soo Do discipline evolved in Korea, it traces its name to the Tang Dynasty, which ruled China from the 7th – 10th century.The club is open without charge to students, faculty, staff and alumni. It is affiliated with the National American Tang Soo Do Association, founded by former Navy commander and Flagler College professor, John Kistler.

The Tang Soo Do club offers women’s self-defense classes, which meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the R building at South Campus. “We have a very structured workout. We have a warm-up series that takes about 20 minutes, and it starts to get your blood flowing. It includes aerobics, stretching, muscle building and flexibility,” said Phillips. Club president Stephanie Dragotto encourages newcomers to try Tang Soo Do for a wide range of reasons. “For some, it’s self-confidence. For others, it’s being involved with the group and being around friends. For me, it’s mostly the self-defense,” said Dragotto.

Participants test out their developing skills on punching dummies and specially padded gloves called focus mitts. “We teach you the basics of blocking, how to punch right, how to kick without breaking your foot,” Dragotto said. “We work with you on learning to use your own body to maximize the techniques.” Like many other martial arts disciplines, Tang Soo Do uses a belt ranking system. Dragotto has become the club’s first second-degree black belt.

Tang Soo Do is not about fights. Instead, the practice emphasizes fitness and promotes the harmonious growth of the whole individual. “It’s for the betterment of mind, body and spirit,” Phillips said.

The Tang Soo Do Club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. in R-207 at South Campus.