Martial arts teacher says skills may save lives

Andy Hsiao Chung, Staff Writer

Pitt-Johnstown martial arts enthusiasts may not be aware that there is a way to receive professional training on campus, and has been for the past 20 years.

Koa Beam has been UPJ’s martial arts club instructor since 1995. Beam teaches Tang Soo Do, a Korean style of martial arts with Chinese origins.

“Tang Soo Do is similar in aspects to two martial arts,” said Beam. “All three have the same roots and are very similar.”

“While Taekwondo is more sports-oriented, and (Tang Soo Do) would have more traditional techniques with striking, kicking, takedowns and throws…many (of these) things are also associated with other martial arts.”

The martial arts program has a long Pitt-Johnstown history. A credit course was once offered on campus, but dropped.

And Beam, who was chosen by the original instructor to advise the club members and teach the class, has yet to find a successor.

Practicing martial arts can have benefits. Martial arts therapy is promoted to help children with low self-esteem.

“Of any other things that are going on for students on campus, it is the only one that can potentially save your life,” said Beam.

UPJ martial arts president William Kashin said he also sees the benefits.

“It is definitely a great confidence-builder,” he said.

“It teaches discipline and martial skills. I met a lot of new friends, it’s just a feel of camaraderie. We’ve trained together and have each other’s backs.”

The martial arts club meets twice a week, and requires no prior martial arts knowledge.

“You just have to have a tickle in the back of your mind that you want to do some kicking, punching and whatnot,” said Beam.