Earn Your Belt: Manhattan College’s Tae Kwon Do Classes

by MEGAN UY, Contributor

On Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings during the school year, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering John Leylegian, Ph.D., leads free Tae Kwon Do workouts for Manhattan College students in the Alumni Hall Mini Gym and the Jasper Hall backyard.

From practicing forms, blocks, kicks and even partner sparring, Manhattan College students are provided the free opportunity to learn a timeless art and ability that will build a stronger body-mind connection as well as valuable self-defense skills.

For 26 years, Leylegian has been practicing the martial art of Tae Kwon Do.  He was inspired to teach it to others during graduate school.

“I actually started teaching it a few years after I started when I went to graduate school.  I started teaching classes at Princeton where I was a graduate student. I’d help out at the classes I was learning at because I was already a black belt by that point” said Leylegian.

Just after a year of being a professor in the School of Engineering, Leylegian started the Tae Kwon Do workout program at MC.

Indicating an interest in providing Manhattan students with Tae Kwon Do workouts and classes to the recreation director at the time, Leylegian was able to form a strong program that is still successful and well attended today after nine years.

A real gem about these workouts are that students are able to earn belts if they regularly come and participate within a supporting and intimate space- just like any other certified, martial arts studio.

Newbie to the Tae Kwon Do classes, Jamie Rheinberger, a freshman marketing and business analytics major, has really enjoyed it thus far.

“This semester I started doing another exercise class and it kind of introduced me to other exercise classes that they (MC) offered.  Then I decided to try the Tae Kwon Do class.  Ever since the first time, I’ve just really enjoyed it and I’ve really enjoyed the chance to get better and memorize different sets and movements and just really seeing myself improve,” said Rheinberger.

From beginners to higher-belted students, this MC workout class allows the college’s students to practice, progress and master the art of Tae Kwon Do at a steady pace and with personal, individual time with Leylegian that caters to their specific needs.

“A little crisper, we’ll get that shine on,” said Dr. Leylegian to one of his newer students after she completed a form.

Hon Bin, a junior mechanical engineering major, has been a Tae Kwon Do student here at MC since his freshman year.

After quitting Tae Kwon Do at an early age, he was inspired to start it back up again at MC.

He started from the bottom again and worked his way up to a brown belt, the current level he is at now.

“I need to do some workouts and I don’t like doing it on my own so this a great environment for me to do that,” said Bin.

Out of the many excellent exercise classes that the college offers, this particular one really allows students to excel and work their way to the top to being the best at a sport that will be nothing but beneficial to your life.