When a child gets involved in sports and the parents want to be
involved with the child, the parents are usually relegated to being a
taxi driver, cheerleader, refreshment vender, launderer, equipment
manager, or some other supportive role. A few are able to become
coaches and teach his or her kid, along with everyone else's, at
No one ever thinks of actually playing with or against their
Can you image trying to strike out your son?
Or racing your daughter in swimming?
Or stopping junior from scoring a soccer goal?
Costa Mesa resident Ron Housepian, 53, regularly competes with and
against his son Corey, 15, in tae kwon do.
The two entered Marshall's Tae Kwon Do in Costa Mesa on the same
day 3 1/2 years ago with the thought of getting Corey active in some
form of martial arts.
Ron grew up studying martial arts. In high school he studied tang
soo do, a hybrid of Japanese and Korean styles of fighting. He
received military training in the Army, although he doesn't know what
style it was ("It was the Army so it was a little bit of
everything"). And in dental school, he practiced shotokan, a form of
His dad's background had an influence on Corey.
"I've always had a little interest in doing something in martial
arts," Corey said. "I really like the psychological part of it."
Corey also participate in team sports -- he has been playing
soccer since he was 4 -- but he and his father think team sports
don't offer the complete training one gets in the martial arts.
"I was looking for some martial art because of the philosophical
conduit," Ron said. "Team sports are great, but they don't give you
the philosophical and spiritual guidance like you get with martial
Ron and Corey, who will be a junior at Newport Harbor High who
competes for the school's crew, rose together in the tae kwon do
ranks and both tested for their black belt on the same day about five
One of the tests is to break a board. Corey was able to break it
on his third and final try, but Ron wasn't able to and didn't receive
his black belt with his son. Ron tried the test two months later and
"We can compete in a more physical way than most fathers and
sons," Ron said. "He finally surpassed me in skill. Either that, or
my skills are deteriorating because of old age."
The Housepians aren't the only father-son black belts at
Rod Neighbors from Newport Beach wanted to learn a form of martial
arts when he was a kid. The 36-year old was referred to tae kwon do
by a neighbor.
"I always wanted to get involved in martial arts when I was young,
but, year after year, I never did anything about it," he said. "I
have two sons and wanted them to get into it. I heard about tae kwon
do from a friend and came down to see if it would be what I wanted
for my boys."
Rod visited the school and was so impressed he signed up for
classes before he signed his sons up.
"I started six months before my sons," Rod said. "I thought I was
too old, but Master [Thomas] Marshall encouraged me to try out."
Rod's sons Kellen, 8, and Trevor, 6, had different reactions to
the intense training. Kellen took to it, while Trevor's interest
seemed to wane.
"Trevor started when he was 5, but he wasn't taking to it like
Kellen did," Rod said. "I didn't want to push him. He loves other
sports, so that's what he plays."
Kellen, on the other hand, enjoyed tae kwon do so much, he earned
his black belt in May. His black belt test involved breaking a board
while blindfolded. He did it on his first try.
Kellen said he likes breaking boards, sparring and practicing the
"I like learning stuff you never knew before," he said.
The joy for Rod is different. He said his dad was supportive when
he was younger, but Rod's relationship with Kellen is closer than he
had with his own dad.
"This has bonded us together," said Rod, who earned his black belt
in January. "We were chasing down the same dream and the same goal.
And that's no easy task."
He has seen the effects of the martial arts training on Kellen.
"He has learned to be patient and how to complete a goal," Rod
said. "No one is making us come here. He has learned how to be
disciplined, and I think that's very important."
Also taking classes at Marshall's is Perry, Lauren and Ryan Balky
from Newport Beach.
Perry, 46, signed up on the same day he enrolled Lauren, 8, and
Ryan, 6, for instruction.
"I come mostly for the workout and the challenge," Perry said. "I
want my children in it for the discipline and to stay physically
The Housepians and Neighbors have been training for more than
three years and are black belts, the sixth and final belt. The
Balkys, however, signed up a year ago and have risen to a green belt
(the third level) for Perry, and yellow belts (the second level) for
Lauren and Ryan.
"We share a common goal," Perry said. "We do it at the same time
and we're at the same level."
Lauren, who enjoys drama and the arts, likes that it is an
"It's a good way for me to express myself," she said. "To become a
black belt will take lots of discipline, but I'm going to try my
The lessons of discipline Lauren absorbs come less easily to Ryan,
"He has all of the athletic ability. We joke that he's half monkey
because he climbs over everything," Perry said. "But he has hit the
wall in his training. He doesn't want to come, but once he's here he
doesn't want to leave."
Marshall, who was a three-time U.S. champion, said he has taught,
"thousands upon thousands of black belts," but this grouping of
parents and their children has really touched a cord with him.
"I look at them when they train and it amazes me," he said. "I
know what it means to these guys to set the goal of getting a black
belt and then working at it with your kids."
Marshall, who doesn't have kids of his own, has started a special
class for 3-year-olds in which the parents must do the techniques
with the children.
"This helps with family unity," he said. "Other sports like soccer
and baseball, the main thing that is taught is winning and losing.
Here, we teach discipline."
Discipline comes from hard work, though, and that is the only
complaint Lauren has about her tae kwon do workouts.
"I enjoy everything about coming here, she said. "But, sometimes,
I get sweaty and tired."