“Trust, respect, understanding”—it states unequivocally on the sign just above the entrance. Three strong, important traits that are reinforced to each student in every class, and also signify what those same students can expect from the organization in general. TRU Taekwondo has built a solid, dependable reputation, instilling these and other important character traits in their students, along with valuable life skills, including discipline, patience, focus, restraint, and a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to understand why they have maintained an exceptionally high retention rate among their hundreds of students. However, all this pales in comparison to their true mission, which is to connect with each student, providing him or her with the tools necessary to help manage life’s obstacles, challenges and stresses better, and to offer them the best chance to succeed in whatever they do.
A PARTNERSHIP FORMED BY A MUTUAL VISION AND PURPOSE
The real story of TRU Taekwondo began when young Martin Douglas was just five years old and being driven by his father, a Vietnam veteran stationed in Fort Bragg, from his home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to the nearby U.S. Taekwondo Center. The appeal, at least to his dad, was that the center was run by Grand Master Myong Mayes, the highest-ranking female black belt in Taekwondo in the world. She was of Korean descent, and a Ninth-Degree Black Belt (the highest) and Grand Master. She coached the 1988 U.S. Olympic team in Seoul, Korea, and was instrumental in bringing the sport of Taekwondo to the United States as one of the first Korean Masters to open a school here. Martin was among the youngest students ever taught by Grand Master Mayes at the time.
Young “Grand Master Douglas” (his official title today) began teaching at the age of 14 as an assistant instructor at the same school where he himself had learned nine years earlier. Martin continued to train throughout high school and into college at N.C. State University. It was during those later years that he began competing and winning on a national scale. After graduating from State, he took a job as a Network Administrator, and continued to train in Cary, N.C. He realized, however, that his passion was always with the martial arts, so he joined another instructor and came to Winston-Salem to teach classes at a local center full-time, while still participating in national competitions until he was twenty-five years old. Throughout this time he continued to rise through the ranks and ultimately achieved a Seventh-Degree Black Belt and earned Grand Master status.
It was in one of those classes in Winston-Salem that he began teaching the daughters of Philip and Dianne Averett. Philip, at the time, was co-owner of a successful medical billing firm in Winston-Salem. He was immediately impressed with Master Douglas’s style and approach to teaching his craft, along with the positive results he was witnessing with his own daughters and the other students. They developed a kinship along the way, and, as their spiritual connection grew, Philip encouraged Master Douglas to open his own school. Then, in 2012, by the time Martin had already decided to open up TRU Taekwondo at its original location at 5038 Peter’s Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, he and Philip began to prayerfully consider forming a partnership. A year later, their partnership was well underway, and they’ve grown leaps and bounds since, having opened a second location at 5065 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem. The fact that this partnership grew out of a mutual respect for the meaningful benefits the sport offers, along with the worthwhile lifelong experience the owners are delivering to their students, is indicative of the commitment both share in providing much more than simply self-defense.
WATCHING YOUNG PEOPLE GROW IN MIND, BODY, SPIRIT AND RESPECT
Training the body, challenging the mind, strengthening the character, and growing self-esteem—at TRU Taekwondo, such transformations occur on a weekly basis. Whether the child is shy, introverted, lacking confidence, high-strung, struggling in school, difficult at home, or whatever the case may be, the atmosphere at TRU and the positive approach Master Douglas and his team use helps foster a congruence between the training they receive and the person they are at home and school, including, among other things, the level of respect. Master Douglas explains, “Parents get emotional at just how much of a positive influence this training can have on their children, and seeing how it’s changed their child’s life for the better. That’s what drives our team of instructors, knowing the positive impact we’re having on not just the children, but every student from six to sixty involved in our center.”
“We’re not a competition school, although we’ve had some students who competed, and they can if they want to, but we don’t focus our efforts in that regard. The sparring that takes place here is in a controlled environment under our supervision.” And having all those years of national competition experience, Master Douglas says, helps him with his current students. “The struggles and obstacles that you have to overcome in competition—I can create those same obstacles in a regular class, helping [the students] achieve goals and overcome without the need to travel and compete in those settings. Besides the expense of that competition, it’s pressure.” Master Douglas added that with all the effort that he and his instructors put into building the students up, he doesn’t want to see the possibility of any negative experience in these outside competitions tear down what they’ve worked so hard to build. Yet another example of how they put the best interests of the student ahead of everything else, a theme echoed throughout the team at the center.
[Philip, when talking about Master Douglas, explains a unique dynamic inherent in his perspective on training. “Having trained for as long as he [Douglas] has and competed at the highest level, he has learned both sides, including the advantages and the shortfalls. And his natural instinct is to focus on the advantages for his students, figuring that life throws enough challenges in your way on its own. He chooses to emphasize the positive and build their character and feeling of self-worth.” Philip continues, “Master Douglas has always displayed a good balance in providing both a nurturing environment that’s fun, while also providing the exceptional training that allows students to be the best they can be relative to their skill level and ability.”
The true essence of Master Douglas’s and his team’s approach to their students is displayed in his comment about his own achievements:,“When it comes to the stripes (degree of black belt), to me it doesn’t matter. When I look at an individual student, I just want to impact his or her life in a positive way. After all, that’s what’s most important.”
Philip emphasizes the point further, adding, “As Christians, TRU is a platform for us to live out our faith and beliefs. A place for us to throw ourselves into being encouraging and mentoring and being a part of making others better. So I would do it anyway, and so would Master Douglas; it just happens we’re doing it here. Every single one of our students, their lives are changing and it’s not just because they’re training and sweating. It’s because they have to persevere and overcome certain obstacles and perform tasks that builds confidence.”
MORE THAN SELF-DEFENSE – THE VISION COMES TO FRUITION
Anyone who knows Master Douglas and Philip Averett understands that they care more about the students than just what they can teach them to do in self-defense. They realize today’s students must deal with a tremendous amount of outside pressures and influences, and it can have a negative impact on their daily lives at times. That’s why Master Douglas understands each of his students individually, real
izing their talent level, as well as what other factors are going on in their lives, to be able to push them when they need the push, and guide them when they need extra guidance and understanding. He relates to his students and cares about their personal successes, both inside and outside the center. That’s indicative of the students who, after leaving for college, often come back to visit to catch him and the other team members up on what’s going on in their lives. Students see the leadership at TRU as more than professional trainers, but also as mentors and friends intent on setting the right example for them to follow.
Philip identifies this philosophy they aspire to at the center: “Connecting, serving, and transforming.” He continues, “We can’t really change lives until we show ourselves that we’re worth the investment, which is accomplished by serving others and establishing trust, and to do that, we have to first connect with the students.”
The TRU environment is one that encourages students by helping them to achieve their best, versus the typical competitive nature one might imagine in other sports. It’s an intricate program that helps students learn, grow, and develop physically, mentally, and emotionally, delivering the skills today’s students need to be at their best and achieve their best. It’s their character, their attitude and their approach that Master Douglas and his team of instructors and Philip bring to TRU Taekwondo that makes it the success it is with their students, the families, and in the community at large. And to think, it all started because one father took the time to take his son to training each week in an effort to teach him the valuable life skills that would ultimately become his lifelong passion!
COME EXPERIENCE FOR YOURSELF
Besides Taekwondo self-defense training, they offer services designed specifically for the distinctive needs of adults, such as their fitness and cross-training classes. Classes, I might add, that improve your cardio-vascular strength and help burn off some of the stress we all deal with routinely. To help provide encouragement, they offer free bi-weekly women’s fitness classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m., and walk-ins are welcome.
They hold different events during the year to reinforce the bonds of family and friendships, including those made at the center, such as cookouts, parties, and date nights for mom and dad while their young students enjoy their classes at a special time.
They offer family discounts, whereby when two or more people within an immediate family are enrolled, the second and third members receive discounts, and the fourth member enrolls for free. This encourages families to share in the experience together. Philip asks, “How often is it that you can participate in a sport at the same time with your entire family?” Master Douglas offers this advice, “I think it makes the dynamics of the family better when parents are able to participate in something like this with their children.”
The after-school program they hold at the center is conducted in an energetic, colorful, imaginative environment specifically designed to boost the students’ energy levels at that time of day, and lift their spirits to be able to work on homework assignments and enjoy the other activities available. Summer camps offer a great chance for students to see what the center has to offer, while enjoying exciting field trips, arts and crafts projects, games, along with Taekwondo training that keeps the students entertained and engaged. And of course TRU Taekwondo is a great place for them to have their next birthday party as well.
Now is the perfect time for you to stop by and demo one of their classes and see for yourself just how beneficial this training can be. And to make it that much easier, TRU Taekwondo offers a satisfaction-guaranteed promise, so you can feel confident in joining. They have two convenient locations in Winston-Salem: at 5038 Peters Creek Parkway (just past Walmart), and 5065 Country Club Road (across from Calvary Baptist Church.) To find out more, visit their website at trutkd.com or give them a call at (336) 788-5333 on Peters Creek Parkway, and (336) 448-0152 at their Country Club Road location.
This could well be the start of something very rewarding for you and your family for many years to come.
“As Christians, TRU is a platform for us to live out our faith and beliefs. A place for us to throw ourselves into being encouraging and mentoring and being a part of making others better. So I would do it anyway, and so would Master Douglas; it just happens we’re doing it here.” ~ Philip Averett
“We can’t really change lives until we show ourselves that we’re worth the investment, which is accomplished by serving others and establishing trust, and to do that, we have to first connect with the students.” ~ Philip Averett
“When it comes to the stripes (degree of black belt), to me it doesn’t matter. When I look at an individual student, I just want to impact his or her life in a positive way.” ~ Master Douglas
“Parents get emotional at just how much of a positive influence this training can have on their children and seeing how it’s changed their child’s life for the better.” ~ Master Douglas