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Martial arts helps develop confidence, character, more
Tyler Dixon, 10, receives his black belt from grand master Kevin “Tiger” Bang at the World Martial Arts Academy. - photo by Photo provided.
The challenges in Tyler Dixon’s short life have included included the deployment of his father, Staff Sgt. Michael Dixon, who is expected to return from deployment with the National Guard within weeks.
Another the 10-year-old fourth grader at Button Gwinnett Elementary School has not only survived, but broken new barriers along with a number of boards is in martial arts.
Dixon, along with friends John Dingle, 17, Gabriel Muhammad, 12; and Jennifer Bang, 10, tested for and earned black belts in taekwondo Jan. 27 at the World Martial Arts Academy in Hinesville.  
Dingle said he started taekwondo when he was 12, when he had severe asthma.  
His condition prevented him from playing traditional sports, so his father, Sgt. 1st Class Leon Dingle, 366th Chemical Co., started him in martial arts to help with socialization, as well as the asthma.  He overcame the asthma with training and conditioning.
Even though he started martial arts because his father wanted him too, Dingle said he grew to love it.
Muhammad, a seventh grade student at Lewis Frasier Elementary School, and son of a retired MP, started martial arts when he was 8.  He said he started after watching a taekwondo championships and thought it would be fun.  He loved it.
Dixon began when he was 6 after his grandmother encouraged him to study with her friend grand master Kevin “Tiger” Bang.  A former Army officer, Bang was recently nominate for USA Taekwondo commissioner and returned here from North Carolina for the testing and brought daughter, Jennifer, 10.
She is friends with the other students, and wanted to test with them.  In addition, she was able to add to the ceremony with a demonstration of weapon forms (martial art techniques arranged in a pattern) including the nunchuck and sword.
The test included a variety of tasks from breaking bricks or stacks of boards to demonstrating martial arts forms and self-defense.
Before the test, they spoke with friends on how martial arts helped them.
“There is a lot of pressure to be like them,” Dingle said about others peer pressure to be “cool.”  “But you know what is right and what is wrong.”
Muhammad said young people often have to help each other do the right thing.
“Sometimes my friends are influenced by other kids to do bad things, but I try to help them.  I give them advice and encouragement. I think it helps.”
Grand master Bang said martial arts teach discipline, respect and courage, encouraging students to never give up in anything, even after attaining black belt.
“When you reach black belt, it’s a new beginning,” Bang said. “Martial arts is never ending.”

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