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Friends & Neighbors - Hunting for new adventures

Since 1987, Mike Summers has been teaching tae kwon do to students in the Detroit Lakes area.

In fact, he's been teaching the Korean martial art of tae kwon do since it was still known as karate.

"There weren't a lot of peo-ple in it (martial arts) when I started," he says. "Now, just about every town has a tae kwon do school... it's become an Olympic sport.

"In junior high, there were about 10 of us that started taking it together, and I stayed with it," he says. "I got my black belt in 1985."

In June 1987, Summers opened his first martial arts school in Detroit Lakes (he had taught classes in Hawley prior to that). Later, he also began teaching classes in Audubon and Vergas (where he and his wife, Joy, currently reside).

Though he continued to par-ticipate in competitions up until about five years ago, Summers decided at that point to shift his focus toward teaching.

"I didn't want to compete against my own students," he explains.

In addition to training his students for competition, Sum-mers also teaches them by ex-ample.

"It's (tae kwon do) more than a sport... It's more a way of life," he says. "I don't drink or smoke... I try to lead by example, to make sure I'm a good role model."

And not just for his students; Summers has three children of his own.

Summers enjoys working with his students, both kids and adults, on a daily basis. But after 20 years, he's decided he wants to shift his focus once again.

On Saturday, June 2, after his students compete in their final tournament of the season at Detroit Lakes High School, Summers will retire from teaching.

Though he and his wife of five years, Joy, will continue to practice tae kwon do and attend classes, they will be handing over their school to Bemidji native Lucas Holzhueter.

Holzhueter, who has been running the tae kwon do club at Bemidji State University for the past four years, has been a martial arts instructor for more than a decade.

"I've been teaching under Grand Master Spencer Brandt and Cindy Brandt for 12 years," he said. "Grand Master Spencer has about 19 branch schools in northern Minnesota and Germany.

Though his main school is in Bemidji, Brandt has branch schools in Pelican Rapids, Park Rapids, Perham and Wadena. When Holzhueter officially takes over on June 4, Summers' classes in Detroit Lakes and Audubon will become branch schools of Brandt's as well.

The Vergas school, which had previously held classes at the Summers' own home, will be reopening in the fall at a new location.

"Master Summers has had a great program here, and I hope to keep that up and continue to offer quality martial arts in-struction," Holzhueter noted.

In addition to having a third degree black belt in tae kwon do, Holzhueter also has a second degree black belt in the martial art of kum do (a form of sword fighting) and a second degree black belt in hopkido.

As for Summers, he and his wife plan to devote their time to Summers Outdoor Connections, the business they started together in 2002 (around the same time that they got married).

"We book hunting and fish-ing trips for different outfits around the world," Summers says, noting that he has booked trips to Europe, Africa, and just about anywhere in the world that has good hunting and fishing.

Joy will also be relinquish-ing her martial arts instruction duties when her husband retires; the two have been teaching classes together since a little after they were married five years ago.

Their assistant instructors, Jon Chounard and Joe Jacobson, will be staying on to work with Holzhueter.

Though Summers admits he will miss his students -- many of whom have been with him since he first started teaching 20 years ago -- he feels now is the time to step down from teaching.

"I've always enjoyed teach-ing - that's why I've done it for 20 years," he says. "But I really want to pursue the hunting and fishing a little more -- it's a business that needs a lot of work."

In addition, "it allows me to travel a little more -- and I like the outdoors and hunting," he explains. And there's one other reason.

"There's not much time for a family life (while operating a martial arts school 3-5 days a week)," he says. "I want to have my nights at home."

Currently, Summers has about 100 students in his school. -- but he has taught many times that number in the past 20 years. If any of those students, or their families, would like to give him a congratulatory handshake, hug, or simple "thanks," Summers says they are welcome to stop by the gymnasium at DL High School on June 2. The tournament will run from 10:30 a.m. to approximately 3:30 p.m.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454