Fort Hood youth are learning self-confidence, self-defense and respect in Tae Kwon Do class in Bronco Youth Center.

Instructor Nicole Lynch has been teaching Tae Kwon Do for over a decade. She enjoys teaching kids and seeing their face light up once they finally understand.

Tae Kwon Do is unique to other martial arts because of its emphasis on kicking.

“Tae Kwon Do focuses on kicks. We do a lot more kicking,” Lynch said. “It translates to the way of the hand, fist, foot, but we do a lot of kicks … a lot of front kicks, side kicks, round kicks and like I said, we have the tornado kicks, we’ve got axe kicks. We have more kicks than we do hand-type of techniques.”

She believes that Tae Kwon Do builds self-confidence because it is not a team-oriented sport and that a person must believe in and push themself to excel at it.

“It’s a lot about self-confidence. I don’t feel like I was a very coordinated, athletic child, but I knew that I was going to get college credit for Tae Kwon Do. So, I signed up in college, freshman in college, 18-years-old, I said, ‘I want to do this, because it’s all me,’” Lynch said. I’m not letting the team down when I miss the ball for the goal or whatever, so I think it’s more about self-confidence with them. Obviously, I want them to be able to protect themselves you know just in the day and age we live in. I think self-confidence is a real big thing for them to get out of it and of course the self-defense and protection.”

One thing an onlooker would notice about the class is how respectful the students are of their instructors and each other. While practicing with a partner each participant thanks the other and when Lynch dismisses the class, she makes sure to remind them to lead by example

“That’s just to kind of show respect. I talk to my kids all the time about leading by example so when we dismiss, you always do that in martial arts, because you want to show respect to your instructor and then you notice we bow to our partners, things like that just because it’s always about respect,” Lynch said. “You’re not trying to hurt your partner, so that way we want to show respect…”

Lynch knows what it’s like to be a military kid and finds it very rewarding to be able to teach the children at Fort Hood.

“I think I can relate to it because I am a military kid myself. It’s different now because with their FaceTime and everything like that. I mean, at least they can take videos and show their parents their progress and things like that,” Lynch said. “But with the deployments and things that they have now, for their parents to be gone that kind of brings them down, and then coming in and finding their self-confidence again and things like that and I think that it’s a good release.”

Tae Kwon Do classes are offered at Bronco Youth Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cost is $55 per month and six classes are guaranteed. For more information please call 254-287-4592.