MARQUETTE - Martial arts teaches discipline and self respect - but it's still a fun sport for youth.
Mason Granger, 13, is studying South Korean martial arts at Marquette Soo Bahk Do Academy and has earned a red belt.
He used to play hockey, but got really interested in martial arts after watching "The Karate Kid" movies - new and old - one summer, he said.
Red belt Mason Granger, left, spars off with 2nd degree black belt Elijah Lemard, right, during class on Thursday at Marquette Soo Bahk Do Academy. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"It was the summer and hockey season was over until winter and that's when I started to watch the movies and get really interested in it," Granger said. "I just wanted to try something different."
Mason started martial arts when he was 11 years old and has stuck with it. He said it's not only fun because he gets to hang out with his friends and learn new things, but he also likes the camps and competitions that he attends.
"The tournaments are a really good thing, are fun and they have a really nice pool at the hotel," Granger said. "There's really good competition at them and it's nice seeing everyone from other gyms."
At the tournaments, the students are judged on sparring, forms and demonstrations if they choose to participate in that portion. Winners of sparring competitions are decided based on a point system.
"If someone blocks you and you counter and the judges see it, you get a point," Granger said. "At the end of the final match they see who has the most points and then they get a medal."
Granger is being instructed by Carl Vonck, a 4th-degree black belt in South Korean martial arts. Mason's mom, Michelle Granger, said she heard great things about Vonck and that's how Mason ended up at Soo Bahk Do Academy.
"Everything he does is with very positive discipline and very positive reinforcements and there's nothing negative about him. I kind of chose because of him," Michelle Granger said. "I didn't know really anybody who did (martial arts) and I didn't know anything about it, I just knew that I heard his reputation."
According to Michelle Granger, it did take much convincing on Mason's part before she and her husband would sign him up for classes.
"He kept saying that he wanted to (do martial arts) and we kept saying he had to prove it to us and that it wasn't just something on a whim that he wanted to do and that it was something he wanted to stick with," Michelle said. "We made him wait quite a few months and really prove that he wanted this. When he just continued to say, 'I really want this,' that's when we finally said okay."
Michelle Granger said she thinks martial arts is a great activity for her son. Since Mason became involved with martial arts, she said, she's seen her son really grow and mature. It's a really healthy thing to do, she said.
"We love it so much and it's become such a big part of our family," Michelle Granger said. "We have made good friends with the other families. It's kind of like we're our own little family and everybody is so close and so supportive."
Not only does Granger like her son doing martial arts, but she said she thinks it's a really great thing that he is also learning a new language as well. All of the technical terms Mason has to learn are taught in Korean.
"I love learning a new language," Mason Granger agreed.
He takes classes three times a week, which both him and his mom really like. Michelle Granger said she likes it because she doesn't have to worry about Mason - because he's in a good, safe place with a lot of great kids.
"It gives me something to do after school because I'd get really bored without it," Mason said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.