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Tae kwon do is a real kick

Second-Grader Skylyn Pereue says the only time it hurts to break a board is when it doesn't break.1 / 4
Second-grader Alivia Harris Meyers tries to take her own advice to breaking boards as she aims her foot for the exact center of the board, held by Dave Goodman.2 / 4
DAVE BAKKE breaks several boards at once. He was one of 14 local Tae Kwon Do members who broke boards and bricks during a fundraiser at the mall Saturday.3 / 4
AVA MART kicks high to break a board at the Tae Kwon Do break-a-thon fundraiser held Saturday at the Washington Square Mall.4 / 4

"Hi-yah!"

That was the word of the day at the Washington Square Mall Saturday as Pat's Martial Arts Tae Kwon Do School broke through the noise of everyday shopping with the sounds of their board-breaking demonstration.

Pat Fineday had all 14 of his students there, who ranged in age from 5 to adult.

"We had everything from white belts to black belts there," Fineday said.

The demonstration looked a bit like a tiny lumberyard, as the students summoned all their energy and focus for the board in front of them.

"I feel like sometimes I'm going to hurt myself," said second-grader (and purple belter) Alivia Harris Meyers. "But I just snap my leg and kick it right in the middle, and it breaks. Well, sometimes it does."

Alivia's big sister, Alexia Fierros, a five-year brown belt, says attitude also plays into a successful board-break.

"It's technique and speed mostly, but it does make a big difference if you have confidence in yourself or not," she said.

"And," adds black belt sophomore Ben Bjerken, "you can't just stop at the board, you have to go through it."

Bjerken says he's gone home with a few bruises over his six years of classes, but not too often and not too serious.

"The only time it hurts," explains second-grader (and orange-belter) Skylyn Pereue, "is when you don't break it. I haven't broke any today, but I think the boards are harder than normal."

Skylyn wasn't the only one without a board-break, but her confidence was still hard to miss.

"Some of the kids come in here so shy and scared," said Fineday, "but Tae Kwon Do teaches them confidence and builds their self esteem a lot."

Fineday and his students have done other demonstrations in the past; they were at kick-a-thons at Rossman and the Cormorant Community Center, where Fineday holds class, along with a Callaway location.

"So we thought we'd get the community more involved by having it at the mall and mixing it up a bit with a break-a-thon," Fineday said.

The event was a free-will donation at the door to raise money for an upcoming Tae Kwon Do competition in Brainerd April 30.

"They upped the entry fee to $65 a person, but with the demonstration and the kids getting pledges, we have that covered now," said Fineday.

The students will compete in four competition categories: sparring (punching and kicking students from other schools), form (where they perform a pattern of kicks and punches at the air), weaponry (handling bow, nunchuck and sword) and board-breaking.

"Usually at these competitions the kids all come back with a bunch of medals," Fineday laughs proudly.

For more information on Pat's Tae Kwon Do School, call 218-841-2391.

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