When Hai Ma came to Lloydminster in 1980, it would have taken a crystal ball to envision that his need to send his best friend to school by starting a dojo would still be going some four decades later.
But this is the case as the Art of Taekwon-Do and Kung Fu Lloydminster Club is operated by his daughter Eliza Ma-van Assem and her husband Lucas van Assem.
Hai Ma is still very much involved, but over the last decade the club’s direction is in the hands of his daughter.
The dojo trains about 70-students in ITF Taekwondo, Wushu Kung Fu, Shaolin Kung Fu and a variety of weapons training.
Eliza says they are fully booked.
“This year we have been very fortunate to have full classes. I have no vacancies at the moment.”
Some of the young athletes were in Calgary recently and after some 12-hours of competition they amassed 18-medals to bring back for the trophy cabinet.
Zoe Herath has been in martial arts since she was eight-years old. The 17-year old Holy Rosary high-schooler is a black belt and her specialty is weapons. She brought back three medals from the Calgary contest.
“I won bronze in forms. So I did a Kung Fu variation of one. Then I won bronze for regular weapons and then I won gold for musical weapons,” says Herath.
Tristan Conroy, who also made the trek to Calgary has a blue belt and has been in martial arts for almost three-years. He too brought back a haul for the medal rack.
“I brought back a silver and a bronze. The silver was for my Kung Fu and the bronze was for my musical.”
Eliza and her husband are looking to the future.
“I met my husband about five-years ago, when he came into my club – coming from a different club. And from then he has really helped us expand because I used to have a lot of girls and now because of him I have a lot of boys too. We are hoping in the next year that we grow even bigger – we go to even more competitions and we keep up our reputation of doing well,” says the dojo club owner.