While the UNI Tae Kwon-Do club, an on-campus sporting group, may teach traditional Korean martial arts techniques, their golden rule is no fighting.
“The true philosophy of Tae Kwon-Do (is that) an individual can develop themselves to the point where they are strong enough to oppress an aggressor,” said chief instructor and Jr. Grand Master Joseph Philip. “Then you don’t have to fight. Then that person is not your enemy.”
The Tae Kwon-Do club has been at the University of Northern Iowa for 42 years. The club also has separate classes available to the community. However, the reach of the club extends out of the Cedar Valley, and has locations in Washington, Iowa, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Florida State in Tallahassee and two locations in San Antonio, Texas.
According to the Tae Kwon-Do club website, the group is the “oldest collegiate traditional Tae Kwon-Do program in America” and has produced 673 black belts.
Jr. Grand Master Joseph Philip is an eighth Dan black belt and is the most senior Jr. Grand Master in the United States. In order to reach this status, all of the Korean Grand Masters had to agree on his promotion.
“It’s quite an honor, because what the Korean grand masters are saying is that as they grow older and perhaps retire or die, then the guidance of traditional Tae Kwon-Do is going to fall upon me,” Philip said.
The teaching of Tae Kwon-Do that Philip conducts includes an emphasis on discipline, courtesy and respect, as well as the tenants of Tae Kwon-Do that include courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.
“Martial arts without discipline is nothing but street fighting,” Philip said.
Philip sees that the college students in his program reflect this discipline, noting the average GPA from last year being a 3.5 and saying that 65 percent of his graduating students attend graduate school.
“Tae Kwon-Do is a way of life. …When you’re disciplined and you’re organized, you’re more productive,” Philip said.
Abby Zieman, a senior majoring in biochemistry and president of the club, adds that the Tae Kwon-Do club can produce confidence.
“… When you break a board, you’re feeling pretty confident, and then that can just bleed over into your everyday life,” she said. “Self control and self discipline can be really helpful in academics. You have to discipline yourself to do your homework and go to class and all that stuff.”
The class is also used for physical exercise, balance and flexibility. Philip refers to the class as “an aerobic discipline,” and even requires students to be able to do a yoga headstand.
“The purpose of the headstand is that if you have balance standing on your head, then you will have balance when you walk upright,” Philip said.
Zieman also feels that there is a social aspect to Tae Kwon-Do.
“Even though we have practices and testings, the night before each testing we have a relaxation night,” she said. “We just get together and hang out, do some club bonding. A lot of my friends are in Tae Kwon-Do; that’s how I met a lot