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Newport Beach teenager releases free taekwondo app

Sage Hill School senior Aiden Kiani, 17, recently launched a free Taekwondo app.
Sage Hill School senior Aiden Kiani, 17, recently launched a free Taekwondo app. Aiden trains at Sunrise Martial Arts in Newport Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Sage Hill senior Aiden Kiani has been practicing taekwondo for 12 years.

A third-degree black belt in the martial art, Kiani said he practiced at the studio on a weekly basis. Master John Seock at the Sunrise Martial Arts Studio remembered the days when, as a child, Kiani wanted to quit because he was embarrassed by his lack of skills.

Kiani persevered and, by early 2020 he started teaching in the Newport Beach studio, under the supervision of Seock.

When the studio had to close in response to the onset of the pandemic that March, not only was Kiani’s training schedule interrupted, but his teaching schedule was also affected.

“Around that time, I felt withdrawal; I was upset that I couldn’t train. This has been with me my whole life. This is the first period I couldn’t do much with it.

“The second thing was that I really missed teaching,” Kiani said. “I missed seeing the students grow and improve and start to really do all of the challenges I put in front of them.”

Kiani said the studio started holding Zoom classes virtually, which made him think about other ways to teach and reach out to as many people as possible — especially those who couldn’t pay for studio classes themselves to stay fit throughout the pandemic closures.

Sage Hill School senior Aiden Kiani, 17, practices kicking with his master, John Seock.
Sage Hill School senior Aiden Kiani, 17, practices kicking with his master, John Seock, at Sunrise Martial Arts in Newport Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

That was when he thought about creating an app.

The result was “Taekwondo Prime,” released in August on the Apple and Google app stores. Kiani said he’s been working on it since about February 2021 through a program called MyStudio App. He approached Seock with the idea and asked him what he thought about making an app to teach people taekwondo and its basic principles.

"[Seock] wanted to make an app but never was able to. He didn’t have the time for it. We started to work together in making videos for the app to teach people. I also thought that this would be a great idea, especially after the pandemic,” Kiani said, noting ongoing financial woes for some and the current rate of inflation.

“Taekwondo studios aren’t cheap,” he said. “But I thought the teachings that taekwondo teaches … is more valuable than any money, so I wanted to bring that to people free of charge.”

Seock said the black belt is a reflection of the best version of a person.

“I think this app that he made was to apply that and have other people use it to learn what he learned from our school,” said Seock. “Martial arts, what it means to become black belt … it gives easy access to people who are less fortunate and can’t come to classes and really enhance their body and mind.”

Seock said he is proud of Kiani for making the app and for thinking about a way to give to others.

“We always tell our black belts. There’s no use in having all this strength, power and knowledge and not using it to help others. All the things you work hard for,” Seock said. “Keeping it to yourself is no good. You have to reach to other people to make them better. Then you’re a real leader. A real black belt … is how we give back to society.”

Master John Seock, right, trains Sage Hill School senior Aiden Kiani, left.
Master John Seock, right, trains Sage Hill School senior Aiden Kiani, left, as they practice at Sunrise Martial Arts in Newport Beach. Aiden and Seock worked on videos for the app ‘Taekwondo Prime’ together.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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