Karate Kid

By Michael Pankonien

Staff Writer

He knows 18 different grab techniques and 20 different combat forms.  He’s studied knife defense, staff defense, and a manner of different grappling techniques.  His name is Eric Darwin and he is a 3rd degree black belt in the martial art Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan.

Photo by Kelly Emerson.

After joining the studio when he was six years old, Junior Eric Darwin has studied at the Lewisville Karate studio for eleven years now.  Soon to be testing for his teacher certification, Darwin will be one of the youngest certified instructors in the history of the school’s founding here in the U.S.

Tang Soo Do is a Korean art style which originated in the early 1600’s.  Tang Soo Do means “empty hand way” while the school name Mi Guk Kwan means “American Brotherhood”.  A defensive style in nature, schools of the style have sprouted up all over the U.S. with its grandmasters school in Connecticut.

“I’ve taught Eric since he was a little boy, he’s definitely come a long way,” senior instructor Nancy Anderson said.  “He’s probably one of the best student’s we’ve ever trained and we’re all very proud of him.”

Darwin has been through several different belt colors as he’s progressed through the ranks at the studio: white, orange, green, red, and now midnight blue.  As each belt has multiple levels, Darwin has gone through 13 different tests to arrive at his current level.

“I just saw them working at the YMCA one day when I was little and I decided to try it,” Darwin said.  “It’s been one of the greatest choices of my life.”

Darwin has traveled and competed with other Tang Soo Do students from around the world.  At the yearly national tournament traditionally held in the summer, he competes in sparring, forms, weapon forms, and team forms.

“Forms are definitely my favorite,” Darwin said. “Everything’s just simple and thought out.  And because they’re already set they can be really long and elaborate.  Some of the more advanced forms that I’m learning these days are really intense.”

Darwin’s no slouch at sparring either; Darwin has repeatedly placed well in his division and earned many medals in competition against other opponents.

“We’ve been to Las Vegas, Connecticut, Amsterdam, Houston, Los Angeles, even Cancun one year,” Darwin said.

Darwin has long been supported by his family in his endeavors, even being accompanied by his brother as a fellow student for some time period.

“I’m really glad he’s made the decision to dedicate himself to Tang Soo Do.  His dedication and enjoyment of it are always evident, from when he’s leaving for class to when he comes home from it,” said Lisa Russell, Darwin’s mother.

When asked if he would continue in college, Darwin replied that he hoped too but was worried about the obvious problems with distance.

“I just love it,” Darwin said.  “Not just the fighting or learning, but the people, the culture, and all the friends I’ve made along the way.  Nothing’s better for me than when I’m in class going through what I know with all the other student’s I’ve been working with for years now.”