By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — Tang Soo Do is one of the only forms of martial arts that can still be classified as an “art.” It is taught the way it was intended, with history, weapons, forms and basic actions. It has all the elements of the original martial arts.
The sport, whose name literally means “to defend the strike,” teaches people how to keep from getting into a conflict.
“You should know enough about martial arts that you don’t have to punch to get out of a conflict,” said Tonya Germain, instructor at the PKSA Karate Studio in Allen Park.
The sport takes years to master, yet one 10-year-old girl has done just that, having achieved the status of black belt in the art form.
Lillian Zieger of Wyandotte practices her Tang Soo Do at the PKSA Karate Studio six days a week, four hours a day. She has been doing so since the age of 4 when she and her mother joined the dojo. Since then it has become a family affair and one of her younger brothers also participates in the art.
Many families such as the Ziegers practice martial arts together. It is becoming a family friendly activity. Children can start at PKSA at the age of 3 1/2.
“I thought it looked really fun and exciting,” Lillian said of her interest in Tang Soo Do.
In between practice sessions, she attends Garfield Elementary and enters fifth grade this week.
Her work has paid off as on Sept 29 she will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to compete in the 15th International Tang Soo Do World Championship. Zieger was selected for the PKSA team three years ago when she was just 7 and an orange belt. She tried out with 200 candidates from 40 PKSA schools to make the team of 20.
She also had to commit to practicing once a month and not miss more then two practices in three years to go.
“You have to be mentally and physically strong to become a martial artist,” Germain said.
On Aug. 31, the Amazing Woman Foundation took notice of Lillian’s achievements and granted her a $2,000 scholarship to help with expenses on her trip to Malaysia.
To get the scholarship Zieger had to write an essay on what made her an amazing woman, and her interest in the arts. This was the first scholarship the foundation has given out since it opened in November 2014. The foundation was created by Sandra Garbovan in memory of her daughter Jennifer Garbovan, who loved the arts and was killed in a car accident at age 21. It supports young women who have a desire to go into or do anything in the arts.
“Our goal is to develop self-confidence and character in young women through the arts experience,” Garbovan said.
The foundation plans to give out two more scholarships this month and will give out three more in March and April to young women in the Downriver area.
“That’s what it is all about,” Garbovan said, “raising money and giving it away. It is fun to raise the money and even more fun to give it away.”
Lillian said she would like to become a school teacher and karate instructor when she grows up. She hopes to own her own dojo.
When she returns from Malaysia she will continue her martial arts education, and plans to achieve the status of second degree black belt in February.
For all those who aspire to go into the martial arts Lillian offers this advice: “Keep on going. Don’t stop. Just push through it. It can get challenging at times. Trust me, it’s worth it.”
(Charity B. Smith can be reached at [email protected])