Thirty years ago, Jim Raemisch decided to try martial arts. Under the instruction of Dr. Sang Kee Paik - a legendary figure in Taekwondo - Raemisch found a passion that lives on today.
So impacting was the sport that Raemisch, now 50, started passing on the lessons he'd learned.
Five years ago, the third-degree black belt began teaching class at Chandler's Snedigar Recreation Center. Together with Scott Hefington, he instructs more than 50 students every week.
A title-company employee by day, Raemisch wants others to realize that karate is not a sport about violence - but a sport about control, discipline and respect.
"This class has been really positive. I‘ve seen a lot of kids who have come in who were shy. Now I can't get them to shut up. I attribute that to putting them into tough situations, and making them realize you're your own person in this world," Raemisch says.
Students, typically children, get a taste of karate during a weekly 30-minute class. Those who choose to excel at the sport take an hour-and-a-half class twice a week with Raemisch and Hefington. Sometimes, even the parents decide it's worth a try.
Two of Raemisch's students will test soon for their black belts. One is a 20-year-old woman who started the class when it began. The other is a dad who decided to take it "for a few months" to get a feel for what his daughter was learning. Both stuck with it, Raemisch said.
"We're teaching them life skills. We're teaching them that when you get into a situation and it's a tough situation, you have to realize you have choices to make in this world. Some choices can be bad. Some choices can be good. You have to listen to people. Some kids come in without the greatest attitude. We tell them, ‘This is a class where you listen. This is not playtime,'" Raemisch says. "We challenge these kids. We tell them, ‘You can do it.' We don't use four-letter words in our dojo (training center). One of our four-letter words is ‘can't.' We don't use ‘can't.'"
Raemisch said the lessons go beyond the walls of the Snedigar center.
"I just like to see the progress of people ... Martial arts has changed my life in such a way, I want to pass it on."
Michelle Reese, East Valley Tribune