FlatLander Archives – January 6th, 2010
Editr’s Note: The following article was first published in our limited distribution first edition of January 6th, 2010. Its appearance on bonnersferrynews.com marks its first public distribution.
When moving to Boundary County in October of 2007 the Lavalas, Robert, Sheila and their son Isaac, settled in and just like everyone else moving from an urban area, began to figure out life in a rural area. The changes were significant and as time went on they became familiar with the “ins and outs” of rural living. They had, as a family, trained in the martial art of Taekwondo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Before becoming involved with Taekwondo on a family level they watched their son Isaac participate at the dojang (studio) in Las Vegas. However, after watching their son graduate two belt levels they were challenged by a Seventh Degree Black Belt to sign up for themselves. From then on it became and still is a family activity. They also all became trained to become instructors in Taekwondo at their studio in Las Vegas and have seen the positive effects within the family unit. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. It is the world’s most popular martial art in terms of number of practitioners. One type of sparring is an Olympic event. In Korean, tae means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way”/”art”/”method”; so Taekwondo is loosely translated as “the way of the foot and fist” but some translate it as, “the art of kicking and punching,” although the meaning of the Korean word “do” does not correspond to the meaning of the English word “art”. Taekwondo’s popularity has resulted in the varied evolution of the martial art into several domains: as with many other arts, it combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, and exercise. Taekwondo is also used by the South Korean military as part of its training.
Exactly one year after moving in they responded to someone in the community who was asking about martial arts training. The Lavalas had just finished converting their two-car garage into a professional workout studio and now, with the inquiry, they realized they would pursue – at least on a “test” basis – opening a Taekwondo studio. They began with a local family consisting of a dad and three sons. This family began coming to the studio twice a week and as the months passed the word of mouth began to spread. By the time of their first graduation (where they would either earn their next rank belt or not) many from the community came to watch and be exposed to the art of Taekwondo. Many who had inquired about the training program were invited to come and watch the one family graduate. The graduation went well and all of the family members passed to their next belt. And as a result of inviting the community to the event, the studio opened to the public January 2009. The Lavalas realized that this could be a viable recreational activity for the community and began filing any paperwork needed to make the business a legal entity.
Seeing the students coming to the studio more and more Mr and Mrs Lavala decided to check into renting space so they could have a larger place to hold classes. Searching around they realized that the prices and the available space simply would not meet their needs. They began to design a building that would fit adjacent to their house on their property on the Moyie Springs/ Bonners Ferry line. The plans were drawn up, the money was secured and the groundbreaking happened in May 2009. Mr Lavala now had two occupations: Sah-bum nim (Senior Instructor) of Taekwondo and builder. Permits were acquired, materials purchased, and sweat was given as the building came into being. For the graduation in October 2009 the building was opened and continues to operate. And now, five graduations later, the studio has 35 students from the age of 4 to the oldest student who is in his mid forties. The Lavalas and their students are now getting geared up for the sixth graduation ceremony in the history of the studio and for the first time have to have the event spread out over two exciting nights. The space the students have to work out in is amazing and first rate with professional mats, punching bags, mirrors and plenty of motivation!
The future for the Lavala family is bright as they offer the only year-round recreational opportunity in Boundary County. Taekwondo is a sport that can be practiced all year because of the nature of martial arts. Martial Arts can be looked at in a few ways. First of all it can be seen as a way to achieve higher degrees of respect, discipline, honor, teamwork, courage and much more. These life skills, as well as others, are taught within each three month segment and in this the ethics of the program become a way of life. This first way of looking at the martial art is one that has existed for thousands of years and thereby simply becomes a part of your life. You never outgrow the disciplines you have learned and your life is enriched by the various experiences you have during your times of training. Secondly, you can approach the martial art as a form of recreation. The workouts are vigorous, the motivation to succeed is real and you feel better because of the training. Looking at the martial arts from both of these perspectives anyone can see that it is an enriching experience. The other nice thing about the being a part of Boundary Martial Arts is that you can take time off to enjoy other sports or time-consuming activities offered in the area. If it is football season and a student cannot manage multiple training sessions per week with each activity, the student can simply take time off from Taekwondo and participate in football (or whatever else) and then when they come back, they will resume their training where they left off. Hopefully they would have been practicing and keeping up with a vigorous workout ethic so they won’t feel too “out of shape”.
Next on the horizon for Boundary Martial Arts and the Lavala family is training in a different arena of martial arts – Filipino Modern Arnis. Modern Arnis is the system of Filipino martial arts founded by the late Remy Presas as a self-defense system. His goal was to create an injury-free training method as well as an effective self-defense system in order to preserve the older Arnis systems. The term Modern Arnis was also used by Remy Presas’ younger brother Ernesto Presas to describe his style of Filipino martial arts; since 1999 Ernesto Presas has called his system Kombatan. It is derived principally from the traditional Presas family style of the Bolo (machete) and the stick-dueling art of Balintawak Eskrima, with influences from other Filipino and Japanese martial arts. One of the characteristics of Filipino martial arts is the use of weapons from the very beginning of training. Modern Arnis is no exception. The primary weapon is the rattan stick, called a cane or baston (baton), which varies in size, but is usually about 28 inches (71 cm) in length. Both single and double stick techniques are taught, with an emphasis on the former; unarmed defenses against the stick and against bladed weapons (which the stick is sometimes taken to represent) are also part of the curriculum.
This new regimen of training for the three Lavalas will mean double duty for a number of years as they both train students in Taekwondo and press into becoming certified instructors in Modern Arnis. They hope to bring Dr. Presas to Boundary Martial Arts in the future for a seminar in Modern Arnis and the community will be invited to this exciting event.
Both Mr and Mrs Lavala have been working with the public for well over 20 years and understand the meaning of customer service. They hope to bring to Boundary County a high level of satisfaction in what they offer the community as a family. They believe that the motto of the school – “Where Yelling and Kicking IS Family Fun!” – is a true statement and that as families join up and participate together, they will build bonds not otherwise realized in the recreational venues offered. If you and/or your family think that this sounds exciting, fun, and challenging you can come to Boundary Martial Arts and take a free class. After that it is up to you to decide if this exciting family sport is for you and yours. You can contact the Lavalas at (208) 304-6717 or 6719 or visit them on the web at www.BoundaryMA.com.