Just by looking at 7-year-old Charlize Herbert, you wouldn’t think the petite, 48-pound girl could muster up a mean punch. And you definitely wouldn’t think she would soon be testing for her black belt in tae kwon do. But she is.
Charlize will test for her black belt at on Aug. 11, before she even enters the second grade at in the fall.
“I like tae kwon do; it is fun,” Charlize said. “I really like kicking because you can use your legs.”
Chuck Herbert, Charlize’s Dad, said she first started working with instructor Sung Lee at A-Plus when she was 4 years old.
“The main reason we first got her involved was so she could learn discipline and develop self confidence,” Herbert said. “She is an only child and we wanted her to be involved with other kids. Ever since she got involved she is more confident and social.”
While Herbert speaks with pride about all that his daughter has accomplished, you can also tell how much he appreciates Lee's work.
Sung Lee—known as Master Lee to everyone that participates in his program— has owned A-Plus for six years. Lee graduated from Martial Arts College in Korea and came to the United States in 2000. He received his black belt when he was 9.
“I can honestly say he is the best,” Herbert said of Lee. “All the things he does with the kids is amazing. The kids look up to him and Charlize sees him as a mentor.”
Charlize said she was first interested in tae kwon do because she wanted to learn self-defense, but Herbert said the Master Lee’s class is about much more than that.
“His class takes the emphasis away from fighting and beating someone up and puts it on respect and discipline,” Herbert said. “It is more about the spirit and emotion behind tae kwon do.”
Added Lee, “Tae kwon do is not learning about fighting, it’s training to discipline the spirit. I don’t teach fighting. I teach self defense and confidence as well as discipline.”
When Charlize tests for her black belt, she will have to demonstrate that she has mastered all of her skills. There will be tests on form, sparring (fighting), physical fitness and more. Whether she will pass is yet to be seen, but one thing is sure—her Dad will be proud.
“I’ll have a tear in my eye when she tests for her belt just because of how far she has come from when she first started,” Herbet said. “And it was all because of Master Lee. I can’t speak highly enough about him.”