With each drill, the students at Styles United Transformative Martial Arts are perfecting their skills and learning the fundamentals of Taekwondo.
“The kids come in here. We get a great workout, but they get a good workout through actually learning the art of Taekwondo,” said Alvaro Mendez, Owner of Styles United Transformative Martial Arts.
For Mendez, seeing the transformation in his students goes beyond the physical. He puts a twist in his program, using his background in education to teach his students valuable lessons.
“They are very well aware that violence is definitely not the way to go. We’re trying to teach them violence is a form of entertainment, not to fall into the video games that they play, the movies that they watch, the music that they hear,” said Mendez.
He’s also trying to make his students better people.
“We discuss how to they show their appreciation to their parents, and one of the ways they do that is by being more cooperative,” said Mendez.
Parents who have had their children in the program for years say they’ve seen a noticeable difference.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth, especially in her confidence,” said Six Maritt Pagan-Pena, whose daughter is in the program.
“It’s paying off in school. We’re seeing growth in sports exponentially from him. He does suffer from ADHD and we are not medicating, so physical activity is his outlet, and it’s been a huge, drastic difference in him,” said Aleisha Velez, who has a son in the program.
Mendez has also spent years as an Olympic trainer for Taekwondo. He’s worked with both the U.S. and Haitian teams. He said he works with the athletes to tackle their specific needs to compete at the national and international level.