(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) Martial arts has a long-standing tradition in St. Joseph and that's thanks in large part to Master Yu's Academy.
This weekend, the school is celebrating four and a half decades of teaching kids and adults how to master the skills of Hap Ki Do and Tae Kwon Do.
Master Chan Yu started the program that bears his name in 1974 at 18th and Frederick Ave. soon after he came to the U.S. from South Korea.
"He came to America to teach Americans his form of martial arts," Christopher Love, master instructor said. "We’ve been here ever since."
Current instructors said Yu’s program isn’t just about combat or breaking boards, its about character development both on and off the mat.
"He’s like a father to many of us," Lee Gilgour master instructor said. "He has built character, self-confidence, and perseverance in us that transfers outside the walls of this academy."
Instructors Gilgour and Love are lifelong members of the academy, both starting out as young kids. Both Instructors said Yu's teachings of character development have been things they carry with them throughout their lives.
Even though he’s since retired from the program and now lives in California, Master Yu made a special trip back to St. Joseph and his academy to see the newest generation of students and instructors attempt to reach their next level In a promotion ceremony.
"The stakes are the highest they can be for many of our students here today." Gilgour said.
No matter what happens on the mat, everyone involved with the program said its a great honor just to be part of what Master Yu started 45 years ago.
"it is such a cool event to have everybody together and share in his success being passed down to us." Love said.
In the time since its' inception, hundreds in not thousands of kids have come through the program according to instructors.
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