Several parents have removed their children from Woo Yong Jung’s Taekwondo Academy following a January incident in which a classmate was struck with a cane by the club’s master.
The parents have said the event left a negative impression and PTSD-like symptoms on the young students.
Jung was found to have struck a 17-year-old student with a cane in a disciplinary incident — a move that has been denounced by the Maritime Taekwondo Union this week.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, several parents of children who attended the school have advised that the incident caused them to immediately withdraw them from any further classes with the veteran instructors.
According to parents, despite being outside the instructional area, one child is said to have heard the screams of the 17-year-old student as the punishment was administered, parents claim has caused PTSD-like symptoms, including nightmares and an aversion to loud noise.
The parents’ outrage stems from both the use of physical punishment on a minor as well as the inclusion of other children in the discipline, as younger students were within earshot while older students witnessed it firsthand.
The parents indicated that at least four families have left Woo Yong’s for other clubs, while several other parents have removed their children from taekwondo altogether.
But the father of the child who received the physical punishment says that his son “saw his punishment as a favour” and is “a better and more mature boy” because of it.
“The master gave him a choice,” Rolf Meier explained.
“He said, ‘Alright, you apologize to all the club members publicly and you get a few slaps on the rear end and then it’s okay again,'” Meier said. “‘If you don’t want that, then you cannot train with me anymore.'”
The punishment was the result of an incident at a Christmas party in which Rodrigo is said to have consumed alcohol, become intoxicated and physically attacked his master.
His father said that Rodrigo has “learned a lesson.”
“We were really happy that this happened because it has really made Rodrigo a better and more mature boy.”
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Meier’s son has been training in the Korean martial art on an almost daily basis since the age of six.
Jung’s website depicts him as a taekwondo practitioner who has reached rare heights, winning world championships as both a coach and fighter.
Meier believes so strongly in his children’s teacher he brings Rodrigo and his younger son Django from more than an hour away to attend classes. For them, taekwondo is a way of life and such punishment comes with the territory, a mindset not shared by those exiting the long-time master’s club.
“It was mutual consent of students, parents and master, so we never thought of it anymore … until some parents started pretending that their children are severely damaged because of this, which we honestly believe is not true,” Meier said.
Although he defends the punishment method administered on his son, Meier does admit that, in hindsight, the involvement of other students was not the best way for the situation to be handled.
“Firstly, he would never do it again, and secondly, yes, he should have maybe done it after the taekwondo training,” he said.
While the matter continues to be investigated by the Maritime Taekwondo Union, Jung remains suspended by the organization, removing his ability to coach his students in competition.
“This particular incident is once in a blue moon,” said Taekwondo President Wayne Mitchell.
Mitchell said often after a regional or provincial body completes an investigation and renders a decision, it will conduct its own to ensure due-diligence.
“When we have those incidences, then we deal with them best we can through our policies,” he said. “It’s something that’s serious and we will take seriously, but we have to ensure we follow our process to give both the opportunity for their voices to be heard.”
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