BOWLING GREEN—Sarah Wood is only 8, but she can break boards with her hands and feet and back a man to the wall.
The third grader at Bowling Green Elementary School received her black belt in taekwondo, and the silk and cotton belt came straight from Korea, said her father, Glen Wood. It must be worn as part of the taekwondo attire.
She qualified for the black belt on July 20 after undergoing testing at Master Lee’s Martial Arts in Massaponax, where she has trained for four years. She goes three to four times a week for one-hour sessions, and has been there 700 times. Mr. Lee is an Olympic trainer and judge, Wood noted.
“She can back adult male black belts to the wall,” said Wood, the former town manager for Bowling Green. “She’s very aggressive. She knows what she’s doing. She can break boards—three-eighth and half-inch pine boards.”
“Taekwondo has the roundhouse kick” in which the leg swings around, Wood said. “They’ve proven it is the most devastating kick due to centrifugal force and body weight and focusing where you strike.
“When it comes time for her to date, I don’t have to worry about her on dates,” her father said.
When she travels, “she won’t need to carry a concealed weapon because she is a concealed weapon.”
She does demonstrations at school and at the community pool in Bowling Green.
Sarah’s goal is to earn a fifth-degree black belt by the time she graduates from high school. Part of the requirement for her first black belt was to do community service, and she visited residents of a nursing home and handed out candy. She also had to write essays about taekwondo and respect, discipline, focus and coordination. She also had to be videotaped while performing taekwondo at Master Lee’s, and the video was sent to Korea before she could be approved for the black belt.
Wood and Sarah’s mother, Stacy Wood, moved to Bowling Green in 2003. Sarah began martial arts lessons when she was 4.
Her father got Sarah involved in martial arts because his older daughter, Harmony, was a black belt by age 9. She later studied dance and received a scholarship to attend the Juilliard School, a New York school for performing artists.
“When you’re that young, it’s the coordination and confidence that are more important than self-defense,” her father said. “I don’t think you can do anything more than this for a child. If a child is going into sports, this would help with eye-hand coordination, strength and focus. If you’re going into soccer, it’s going to help with kicking.”