For four decades, the Hemann family name has been closely associated in Fort Dodge and throughout the Midwest with the martial arts. Bill Dutcher and Tom Hemann have launched a new business that should continue that tradition well into the future. On Feb. 6, they opened Hemann Tae Kwon Do at 2406 9 1/2 Ave. S. - the gymnasium of Youth Shelter Care, which is housed in a building that at one time was the Holy Rosary School.
Tom Hemann said the focus of the new enterprise is tae kwon do classes for people of all ages, but with a strong emphasis on serving families and young folks. He said he expects that many of the students will be in grade school, middle school or high school, but stressed that there will also be a large number of adults of varying skill levels in the classes.
"We're not going to exclude anyone," Hemann said.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Tom Hemann, co-owner of Hemann Tae Twan Do, leads a class through a series of warmup exercises Wednesday night in the new quarters at 2406 9 1/2 Ave. S. in Fort Dodge.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Hemann Tae Kwan Do co-owner Bill Dutcher works with Gracie Ballou, 9, on her kicks Wednesday evening.
One of the goals of the Hemann Tae Kwon Do is to create a welcoming environment for families. Dutcher said the nature of the classes makes it highly appropriate for a parent and child to participate in this activity together.
Keeping the classes priced to fit within family budgets is a priority at Hemann Tae Kwon Do.
"The biggest need is affordable lessons," Dutcher said regarding the niche this business seeks to fill. "We're making it more affordable for kids and families."
There will be classes three nights per week - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A class for beginners is scheduled for 6 p.m. each day. An advanced class follows at 6:45 p.m. Hemann said students will have flexibility regarding the number of classes they attend each week, but can participate all three nights if they choose.
Dutcher, who is a sixth-degree black belt, and Hemann, who is a fifth-degree black belt, will be the principal instructors, but other experienced devotees of tae kwon do will also help with the instruction.
"We have black belts and higher ranking black belts who will assist us," Hemann said.
Both Dutcher and Hemann said one attraction of this martial art is that it is appropriate for a wide spectrum of individuals.
"It's fairly easy to learn," Dutcher said. "Anybody can learn it."
The classes aimed at beginners are designed to make it possible for people new to this activity to gain the knowledge and skills that will enable them to join the advanced class quickly.
"They have to learn some of the basics," Dutcher said, noting that students usually move beyond the beginner stage in two to six weeks.
Why do tae kwon do?
People are attracted to tae kwon do for assorted reasons, but improving physical fitness and enhancing self-esteem are key goals for many students.
"This focuses on the average individual who is interested in learning self-defense," Hemann said, explaining one reason people pursue tae kwon do.
Dutcher said that in addition to the physical benefits of exercise, including an increase in flexibility, there are other rewards that a commitment to tae kwon do can afford.
"It's not just the physical, it's the mental, too," he said. It builds kids' self-esteem."
The philosophical tenets tae kwon do teaches, which Dutcher said are "courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit" have pertinence well beyond the gymnasium.
"This will carry over into school," he said, reflecting on how these concepts particularly help young people evolve into better adults. "We want them to grow up and become good citizens."
Both Dutcher and Hemann have studied and taught tae kwon do for decades. Hemann said it was a television show in the 1960s that initially sparked his interest.
"About 43 years ago - 1969 - an idea came to me about self-defense while in high school and watching the TV series show called 'The Green Hornet' co-starring Bruce Lee as Kato," he said. "It was so interesting to see Bruce Lee perform. ... I researched a paperback book and tried to learn on my own."
He said he soon discovered that the YMCA offered tae kwon do classes and began what has proved a lifelong martial arts journey.
Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org