Mentoring Matters: Instructor Uses Martial Arts To Build Character & Confidence

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – CBS4’s Eugene Ramirez met a master instructor who is on a mission to prove that martial arts is not just about punching and kicking. He believes the sport can change attitudes, develop character and help students gain confidence.

“Master Sang is very powerful in many ways. He motivates and inspires children. His passion, energy, his total commitment to children and mentoring is just amazing,” said Julie Alm, principal at Aventura Charter School.

From Aventura to Homestead, Master Sang visits hundreds of children to teach them what he calls the keys to success. Visit anyone of his classes and you will find students imitating all of his defense moves while shouting out words like, “respect, confidence, honesty, discipline, knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart, strength in the body.”

“I try to put it in their heads so they remember those things,” said Master Sang.

The martial arts instructor owns a private studio in both Miami Beach and Aventura, but his bigger mission is to work with children who may not have access to the sport.

“My background is South Korea. I grew up with my dad so I had a hard time, always wondering and thinking if I had a great mentor, patting me on the shoulder, giving me guidance, it would have been wonderful,” said Master Sang.

Master Sang was recruited by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez to take part in a program called “Envelopes of Safety.” Community leaders came up with the idea to fund more programs for students between the time they get out of school and the end of the working day. The push came after a student was shot in Coconut Grove last year.

Master Sang believes martial arts gives students good guidance to their future goals, helping develop their character and attitude as well as helping them focus and listen better in school.

It was that message that motivated 14-year-old Fabian Crespo to ask for more. Crespo says when Master Sang visited his school, Ponce de Leon Middle School, he made up his mind right away.

“I enjoyed it so I asked him I want to make a career out of this and he made it happen,” Crespo said.

This summer Master Sang gave Crespo free training for up to five hours a week.

“So when a 14-year-old kid comes up to me and talks to me like that, I know he has a passion so I immediately invited him to come to my studio and train,” said Master Sang.

“I was really shy in the beginning. So I never talked to anybody, I wanted to go in a corner it gave me more confidence, I’m not as timid as I was in middle school and now I am in high school,” said Crespo.

Master Sang is training and mentoring Crespo, and he has big plans for him

Once Crespo becomes a black belt, Master Sang wants to put him to work and have him teach other students.

“The Miami-Dade County the programs that we have we need a lot of teenagers lot of leaders to help me spread out and teach thousands and thousands of children,” Master Sang said. “I can’t do it all myself so I need a lot of great teenagers that can help me become team members.”

Crespo, who came from Cuba with his parents just four years ago, couldn’t be more excited.

“I want to become like him. He taught us and I was inspired by him I want to be as confident as he is. He moves the kids and they follow him I want to be like that,” said Crespo.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

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