Martial arts are a codified system of physical transitions developed for self-defense and combat thousands of years ago. Today, self-defense, self-discipline, mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing, military and law enforcement training are reasons people practice martial arts. Predominantly associated with Asiatic cultures, the most popular types of martial arts include Kung Fu, Judo, Aikido, Taekwondo and Karate. Brought to America in 1950, by South Korean Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee, Taekwondo is a striking art that uses punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, open handed techniques, grappling and throws to overcome an opponent. The techniques of Taekwondo and Karate are almost indistinguishable, and the terms are often interchanged. Inspired by action film icons, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee, local professional fishing guide and Grandmaster Mark Deschenes started taking Taekwondo classes during college in West Virginia.
“Because they were capable of handling any situation, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris were two of my childhood heroes. Their dedication to perfection and demand for the best in themselves motivated me to do the same” (Brown, p. 235).
Deschenes was fortunate to study under and eventually teach with Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee in Washington, DC. Returning home to Summerville, in 1986, he opened a Dojo on Trolley Road.
“Martial Arts taught me discipline, and perseverance giving me the confidence to replace fear with courage; it groomed and prepared me for the challenges I’d face in life; becoming a manager and instructor at the National Karate Institute) is articulate in his instruction. His ability to observe, tweak and refine the skills of others transcends both his vocation as a professional fisherman and martial arts Sensei. He believes most limitations in life are self- imposed. Sometimes, people are not aware of what they can achieve until it is introduced. Through discipline and hard work, he encourages his students to raise their expectations and believe in the impossible. Deschenes’ martial arts instruction models Taekwondo’s foundation by paying rigorous detail to technique. By mastering the basic tenets of Taekwondo’s discipline, he has found his students are intrinsically motivated to challenge themselves to be the best they can be throughout life.
Recently, Deschenes was inducted into the Black Belt Instructor’s Hall of Fame for training 49 world champions. Three of which are continuing in his footsteps by opening their own dojos and reinforcing the cultural legacy of martial arts. He is the embodiment of the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish he will eat for a day; Teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime.” AM
Brown, J. (2022). Marc Deschenes. In The American Martial Arts Alliance Foundation Changing Lives Series Biography Book (Vol. 7, pp. 234–235). Independently Published., business owner and professional fisherman” (Brown, p. 234).