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There's a new 'master' in town -- DL man aims high with plans for tae kwon do

DETROIT LAKES -- In 1992, at the age of 8, Lucas Holzhueter's mother enrolled him in tae kwon do "because I wasn't listening to my teachers." Sixteen years later, Holzhueter has become literally a master at marital arts.

He earned his junior black belt at age 11, and his black belt in kumdo, a form of sword fighting, by age 17. Gradually, he has worked his way up the ranks, and a week ago, he tested and passed and is now ranked 4th Dan, or Master, in tae kwon do.

He had been assisting with tae kwon do in Bemidji since he was 12 years old, and in 2003, he took over the Bemidji State club. In June last year, he took over Mike Summer's Summers Martial Arts in Detroit Lakes, which he renamed Detroit Lakes Tae Kwon Do & Kumdo.

"Master Mike ran a really good program," he said. "It's a wonderful experience to be totally on your own," he added of taking over the school.

Students can begin tae kwon do at age 5, where they are "already learning to kick and punch, and learning techniques," he said. He said the activity is good for younger students because it not only keeps them physically active, but it also teaches kids respect and patience, liking having to stand in a line. Things it taught him as a kid.

"It's helped with my self-discipline and confidence."

As students come into his class, he can see them grow from kids who think they are ninjas to kids who mature and learn to break boards properly.

"They learn real martial arts isn't like the movies," he said. "People sweat and you can't rewind."

For his own training and testing, Holzhueter said conditioning was his biggest concern. His test lasted about one and a half hours, with no time to rest.

"I was pretty much going the whole time, so conditioning was a big hurdle for me."

With his instructors, Grand Masters Spenser and Cindy Brandt, back in Bemidji, he said it was harder to make himself practice as much.

During the testing, he had 20 patterns to do that included blocking and striking. He also had to do a series of kicking techniques, hand techniques and self-defense techniques. And of course there was a lot of board breaking.

"(Board breaking) is not to prove how tough it is to do, it's about technique."

He added that his 5-year-old students have to break the same boards he does in order to pass their tests. He breaks more at once, but they are the same boards.

Some of the more unique techniques Holzhueter had to perform for his test included putting out candles with kicks, punches and swinging a staff. He had to lie on a pile of glass while concrete blocks were broken with a maul on his chest, and he had to use a sword to cut cucumbers lying on his students' stomachs.

Holzhueter said his favorite exercises include the four different weapons he has to use -- a bo staff, bamboo sword, three sectional staff and dan bongs. He said it was a successful night during his testing because he and his partner "made it without too many knuckle bombs."

That night, more than 50 people came to do demonstrations before Holzhueter tested and to support him.

"It was more touching to my heart (that they came) than passing my test. They're my tae kwon do family."

He added that it was announced before his testing that he is the youngest person in his association to test for the Master title.

It will be at least five years until Holzhueter will test for a higher level in tae kwon do. Each Dan rank takes the same number of years to prepare for as the rank -- meaning three years for 3rd Dan, four years for 4th Dan, etc.

He said if he trains constantly for the next five years, he could test in five years, "which I plan to do." Until then, he'll continue to build up the school.

One of the new aspects to Holzhueter's school is kumdo, a sword fighting class. He teaches students techniques using bamboo swords, and progresses to wooden and finally steel swords. Because of the more responsibility, demand and chance to injure someone, Holzhueter won't accept students under age 10 for kumdo, and he interviews them before accepting them as well.

Besides his tae kwon do and kumdo school, Holzhueter also finds himself at school during the day. He works as a paraprofessional in the Lake Park-Audubon school district. He also hosts an after school tae kwon do class in Audubon.

Holzhueter said he's pretty happy taking over the tae kwon do school in Detroit Lakes, but could always use more students, too.

Now that he is of master status, Holzhueter can test his students when it comes time for them to advance. "There's more responsibility beyond just a title."

His first opportunity for testing his students will be Feb. 21 -- which will be open to the public -- at the Detroit Lakes Community Center.

After 16 years, Holzhueter said," I love to do what I do."

Anyone interested in tae kwon do or kumdo can contact Holzhueter at 218-234-5890 or e-mail him at