When an athlete earns a ticket for induction into Cooperstown or Canton, the honor usually provides plenty of opportunities for fortune to accompany the acclaim involved with being enshrined in a sport's hall of fame.
Athletes with professional baseball and football backgrounds who make the hall of fame grade usually take advantage of every opportunity to talk up their accomplishments.
Garrett DeWitt is one member of a hall of fame who accepts the honor with quiet dignity.
DeWitt, a resident of the Brainerd lakes area, recently was inducted into his sport's hall of fame without fanfare or promise of increased earning power, unless the notoriety attracts an additional student to Brainerd Tae Kwon Do, the martial arts studio owned by Master Garrett DeWitt, the organization's master instructor.
DeWitt was recently inducted into the World Family Sokeship Council International Martial Arts Hall of Fame in Orlando, Fla., as a Master Instructor of the Millennium. DeWitt said this is the most prestigious and elite Grandmaster's Hall of Fame in the world.
He joins well-known martial artists like Bruce Lee and actor Jackie Chan as members of the World Family Council. DeWitt is one of very few martial artists from the Midwest to be so honored.
The honor of receiving hall of fame recognition and then attending the awards ceremony made for an experience DeWitt isn't likely to soon forget.
"I met some of the most renowned Grand Masters on the planet at the ceremony," said DeWitt.
DeWitt was nominated for induction by Dr. Richard Hackworth, president of the USA Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association.
"This specific martial arts hall of fame only accepts the best martial artists in the world," said Hackworth. "This induction is as significant as receiving an Oscar award."
Maybe. But, while Oscars are handed out for doing a good job acting a part, this award comes for real-life accomplishment. DeWitt is a sixth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and is certified both in Korea and the United States.
DeWitt said Tae Kwon Do has been used for centuries as a martial art in both Korea and southern China. DeWitt teaches the Chung Do Kwon style of Tae Kwon Do and his more than 20 years of training includes skills in other martial art styles such as Chung Do Kwon and Hapkido. DeWitt and his other instructors serve students of all ages and abilities, including children.
"With Tae Kwon Do here, we teach proper positioning of feet and hands; the basic kicking techniques, punching, striking and patterns of forms," said DeWitt "We also incorporate Hapkido, which involves joint locks and throws and takedowns.
"We're one of the few schools outside of the metro area that teaches Hapkido in addition to Tae Kwon Do. This is my 22nd year now and 11 of those years were spent studying mostly with Koreans. I learned a lot through that."
Step into DeWitt's school and you can tell something is different. The usual trophies, plaques and photos that you see in other institutions are missing. In fact, DeWitt doesn't even openly display his hall of fame plaque. He keeps it wrapped and tucked away in a corner drawer.
"We don't stress trophies and tournament competition like some schools," said DeWitt. "We teach the mental skills, like patience, along with the physical skills. All the children in our school, even into junior high, are required to know our tenets of Tae Kwon Do that include courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.
"Every time they come in here for classes we not only say the Pledge of Allegiance, but we also go over the rules. Some people have gotten intimidated by other martial arts schools, for some reason. That's too bad. We try very, very hard here to make it a positive experience for people. We're working on improving people's lives."
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