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Tiger Rock Martial Arts Academy Has a New Director

 

October 31, 2018

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Members of the Junior Advanced Class perform sidekicks. From the left front row: Addison, McKenna, Carter and Edric; back row: Royce, Korbin, Pythia, and Cassidy.

Retired Army CPT. Edward Gunderson is the new director and chief instructor at the Fountain Tiger Rock Martial Arts School.

For the story with more photo highlights click the following link: https://www.epcan.com/home/customer_files/pdfs/sports/tigerrock_2018-10-31-18.pdf

"Taekwondo is my passion. I love to see students succeed, especially the kids," CPT. Gunderson shared.

His love for Taekwondo began 26 years ago and then he added Hapkido and Jujitsu to his skill set.

When asked what sparked his interest in martial arts, he recalled watching a cartoon show at the age of nine, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was popular in the 1980s. That show, along with his father, Ed, who was a third degree black belt, inspired him to learn the Korean martial art, Taekwondo. He added that his grandmother was also Korean.

CPT. Gunderson said he's wanted to be a Marine Aviator since he was five years old.

He went into the Marine Corps at the age of 17 through a special program offered at his high school. He was given a five-year time frame before he would have the opportunity through the program to become a pilot. He was told by enlisting in the Army he could become a pilot sooner.

He chose to enlist in the Army and was awarded a scholarship. He served in the National Guard while going to college. Upon graduation he was commissioned a 2nd Lt.

Looking back, he recalled his father asking him on Aug. 11, 2001 "Son, are you prepared to go to war if need be?" It was peace time and those words really stuck with him. He said it was one month later the 9/11 terrorist attack happened.

In 2003 he was commissioned an officer and in 2007 deployed to Afghanistan.

CPT. Gunderson's dream of going into Aviations and becoming a pilot was put on hold when the Army told him right after graduation he was needed in Logistics as a new type of warfare was now being fought. He said the Taliban and Al-Qaeda were attacking supply lines vs. the infantry fighting up front. Gunderson said the Army needed guys who knew how to fight and lead the troops in those types of situations and he came from an infantry background.

During his fourth deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, he was riding in one of three vehicles traveling on a main supply route that were hit with an IED blast.

It rendered him paralyzed for two months. He was severely injured and underwent rehabilitation for one and one-half years. After that, he ended up being given a medical retirement. CPT. Gunderson pointed out that he would have preferred to stay in the Army but physically he wasn't able, as he was deemed combat ineffective.

He shared that his spine is still very bad but his martial arts keep him going. He said he can be in pain and do nothing or do this and keep his body in shape and still be in pain.

After retiring in 2014, CPT. Gunderson began to teach Taekwondo and managed a martial arts school along with attending school working on his second bachelor's degree at the University of Texas. He went on to receive a Masters in Business Administration. He shared that the skills he learned in the Army transitioned well into business and marketing.

This past August he moved to Colorado Springs. He chose to work here because it's close to Fort Carson military base and a military community and he understands the military lifestyle.

"We're a military friendly school. I want soldiers, active duty, retired and disabled veterans and their families to know they are welcome here," he stated.

He added, "We're a very family oriented school and there are some programs set up that are affordable for the whole family to participate in martial arts." He also shared, "We welcome kids with any type of special needs if they are physically able to respond to me."

"The satisfaction in seeing kids' achievements keeps me fulfilled on the inside and inspires me every day. To see the smiles on their faces when they compete and win a medal or just to be able to step out on a mat and compete- it's a big deal," he shared. "Seeing students succeed is worth more than any paycheck one can receive," he added.

Tiger Rock has over 250 schools across the country with three in the Colorado Springs area. CPT. Gunderson teaches classes Monday – Saturday starting at 4 p.m. with adult classes in the evening. There are classes for Tiger Cubs, 4-6 year-olds; Juniors, 6-11 year-olds; Youth team 12-15 year-olds; and adult class ages 16 and older.

CPT. Gunderson shared how these programs can transform students' character; build self confidence, giving them a foundation to achieve other goals. He said over time he's seen both physical and mindset changes in his students.

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Performing kicks, pictured from the left are Royce, CPT. Gunderson, Addison, McKenna, and Carter.

Some students have signed up for programs to learn how to defend themselves specifically designed for dealing with bullies.

Students learn skills for character development useful in class and in the outside world. One of the goals is to develop better citizens inside and outside the school to take on challenges; build self confidence and learn self defense. Awards are given as the student's levels progress.

Older students can keep physically fit while learning self defense. He adjusts the techniques to get results. Gunderson said he has students in their 70s that attend classes.

CPT. Gunderson shared, "I've been blessed. That's the least I can do for my community, what's been done for me." He is also involved in community outreach to local schools and organizations including teaching members of the school staff self-defense programs.

 

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