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Paramount Martial Arts, Somerset, PA

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    Paramount Martial Arts, Somerset, PA

    The instructor, Barb Hauger, is a 6th dan. She teaches chung do kwan tae kwon do, which is essentially shotokan wrapped in a Korean flag. Most of the forms are slightly modified shotokan katas, along with six modern "made up" Korean forms.

    I practiced traditional Japanese karate back in the early 80's. Back then, the emphasis was on rigorous attention to technique and stances, constant practice of traditional forms, and hard point sparring among the adults and teens (light/moderate contact to the body, no protective gear). In those days, I competed in numerous open tounaments (point sparring and forms).

    I enrolled my 5-year old daughter in Paramount Martial Arts in 2009. The instructor had recently broken away from her teacher's chain of schools (South Central Tae Kwon Do) and started her own studio. My wife convinced me to also enroll ("father-daughter activity"), even though I had reservations about the tae kwon do and its reputation.

    Shortly after enrolling myself and my daughter, the instructor quit her day job and moved Paamount Martial Arts to a modern commercial facility. She hooked up with a commercial martial arts consultant (Wenneberg's American Martial Arts Academy of Fullerton, CA) and became a full time studio, complete with contracts, a "Black Belt Club", birthday parties, substantial rate increases, etc. She had 5 decent adult and teenage black belts who quit immediately. One of the adults was an old shotokan practitioner who was legitimately hardcore; he has since started his own school.

    Basically, Paramount Martial Arts is a "strip mall" Korean McDojo. Almost all the enrollment is "tots" and "juniors" (4-12 years old). The teen/adult class has a handful of teens and only a few adults (parents of the juniors!). There are 4 or 5 adult black belts, but only one attends regularly. The owner leads every class, but much of the sub-instruction is done by teenage black and brown belts (who are clueless). The overall quality of the students is lousy; the stances are terrible, technique is preached but not enforced, and the students race through the forms at a million miles per hour. The owner does the usual kid-oriented moral/life-lesson preaching, right out of the McDojo textbook. I won't get personal, but she has no business teaching anybody about ethical or behavioral standards. She has no children and really does not know how to enforce the preaching.

    Sparring takes place with different partners over a fixed time period (continuous sparring with no stoppages to award points). There is ABSOLUTELY NO CONTACT ALLOWED, not even a light touch to the gi. She has bitched at me several times about contact , stating that the sound of contact scares the kids and is bad for business. I am tired of pattycake sparring with teens and juniors. The overall teen/adult sparring environment is like high school homeroom (people chatting and giggling while throwing kicks).

    The teens and juniors are clique-ish and generally disrespecful toward anybody other than their parents, despite all the moralistic preaching. Almost all of the kids seem to know each other from school (Somerset school district), and don't seem to befriend kids from other districts.

    The school does NOT compete in open tournaments. They only attend the annual Chung Do Kwan Natonals in New Jersey (chung do kwan practitioners only).

    Tha facility is spacious, except for two annoying colums in the middle of the floor. Equipment includes a hanging heavy bag, several free-standing bags, and focus mitts.
    There are four dressing stalls and two small bathrooms (no showers).

    The facility has air conditioning, but she almost never turns it on because she wants people to sweat it out in preparation for the all-important summer black belt camp (which few students attend).

    Belt testing is based on a minimum number of class hours. Since the place has classes 6 days a week, most of the juniors and teens attend every day to accumulate hours - basically, it's a race for belt rank.

    The owner (Barb) is a good practitioner with a legit pedigree. However, she is almost pathologically enthusiastic about chung do kwan. The kids may buy into it, but it gets old for adults, especially those who have experience in other styles.

    Overall, Paramount is OK if you want your kid to get a decent (but expensive) cardio workout. Your kids will not learn how to actually fight or defend themselves, and neither will the adult student (you are kidding yourself if you think the pattycake sparring has any real application). I DO NOT recommend Paramount for the serious adult practitioner.



      Originally posted by traditional_ma View Post
      She teaches chung do kwan tae kwon do, which is essentially shotokan wrapped in a Korean flag. Most of the forms are slightly modified shotokan katas, along with six modern "made up" Korean forms.
      Are you generalizing Chung Do Kwan or referring to Paramount in particular? If you are generalizing, you are out-and-out wrong. I don't personally know Barb Hauger, but I trained Chung Do Kwan under Han Cha Kyo and can assure you it is not anything wrapped in a Korean flag.

      Tae Kwon Do in most of it's incarnations is more classical than ancient. It is now geared toward the competition aspect than some other styles. Chung Do Kwan made me a better fighter back when I was competing. More importantly, it made me a better person. I had good instruction and other students wanting to learn.

      Originally posted by Frank R Coppola View Post
      My name is Frank Coppola and I have been actively and continuously training in Tae Kwon Do since 1986 and currently hold the rank of 6th Dan. I have promoted 214 degrees of black belt since I started teaching in 1990.
      Mr. Coppola, I recall meeting you years ago and a discussion we had regarding the Korean styles and Arlene Limas crossing over to TKD. Though this part is irrelevant, it is good to hear that you are still practicing. Regards.


        Mr. Coppola:

        While I can understand your rebuttal to the OP's review, I disagree with your conclusions. traditional_ma was posting a review of the school based on his experiences. No such review can be held as gospel as to the realities of said school. However, that being said, such reviews by students allow those interested in schools in the area to read them and make their own conclusions

        To counter the OP so vehemently will only cause students who read here to either not post reviews, or not give their honest opinions. If a review in not honest, then it is worthless to those that will later read them in an effort to learn about a school in their area.


          I wrote my review from several perspectives, much like others who post reviews.

          First, I was a consumer who paid tuition at Paramount, and the intent of this forum is to post reviews for other potential consumers to read. The bottom line is that I was dissatisfied with the product, and I clearly explained why.

          Second, I have practiced other traditional martial arts styles and I have competed in open tournaments (sparring and forms). Therefore, I actually have experience upon which to benchmark the product I was sold at Paramount.

          I stand by my review, and yes, Frank, and I can back it up.


            Hello All,

            I have read everything that has been posted on the subject here. There a few things that I certainly agree with here, like this should be a place for individuals to come & post their reviews on Martial Art schools freely. I agree that “everybody” isn’t going to like “everything”.

            With that said, at the end of the day “You” need to decide what you want out of a martial arts program & what is going to suit “your” needs. It sounds like 1 of the big issues here is that The Paramount Tae Kwon Do School has a “No Contact” program. We can go round in circles about the “Good/Dad” of classes with or without “Contact” for hours. But the fact will still remain, that there was no secret that the program was a No Contact program. Which stands to reason, if you are the type of person who needs the contact to validate what you are doing, you were destined to NOT enjoy the program from the word go. But always remember, just because a program offers you contact doesn’t mean it offers you a better program. Just because it offers you contact doesn’t mean it’s going to make you a better martial artist. The only guaranty to offer you is that you going to get hit a lot during your training.

            I am somebody who chose the No contact style. I did so because I didn’t want train/study & get beat up while I’m trying to learn how to do this. I chose to study martial arts so I can learn how not to get into fights to begin with. BUT, traveling in circles that I do & the places I’ve lived, I’m 1 of the people who has had to use my No Contact martial arts training on quite a few occasions to make hard & very REAL contact. No judges, no spectators, no pads, no gloves, just beat or get beaten in the streets. I will be the first 1 to tell you, “As you practice, you will perform”, whether there is contact or NO contact in your program. You get out of it what you put into it.

            Thank you,
            Tony Johnson

            I was at the Paramount Tae Kwon Do School during the board-breaking seminar. I find it kind of odd that when there were quite a few people there who wouldn’t mind “Thumping” with you, you were not in attendance. I’m sure that was just a coincidence. In any case, I’m sure there will be many opportunities that we’ll be able to get together & measure the validity of a “No Touch” program.



              After further thought, I feel it necessary to let you know; the “you” I was referring to in my earlier PS was directed to traditional_ma. I just wanted to be clear!!


                Doc, I agree honest feedback is great, it can be very helpful. Not just for potential students but when as individuals we see a thoughtful point it can cause self

                reflection and self improvement. Gotta say though- the great thing about honest feedback is that it is a two way street. If someone puts it out there, they need to be

                prepared to get some back. Like in Aikido :-) But seriously, if receiving a counter perspective discourages people from leaving feedback then that is a shame, if

                someone is gonna put it in a public forum, they need to do so with the understanding that their post may be challenged.

                If the original post was a sentence or two saying the person's impression was the school was "overcommercial or too kid oriented" I wouldn't be responding now. Barb

                Hauger is an excellent Martial Artist, excellent Instructor and has been a very selfless member of our martial arts community. She doesn't needs me to defend her, her

                body of work speaks for itself. I am, however, going to put some more general food for thought out there because I feel a line of student/instructor disrespect has

                been crossed and my silence would only enable it.

                Saying you "don't want to get personal" doesn't excuse you to then get excessively personal, especially in a public forum. What relevance does the instructor

                having kids and so on have to do with a Martial Art? The comment about kids would never be made about a male instructor."Anonymous" coded, sexist attacks on the

                internet are very common because having the screen between the man and women gives the man a sense of confidence he wouldn't have if the woman were standing right in

                front of him. The original post simply is clouded with a lot of personal baggage that is not appropriate to post and undermines the credibility of the original post

                itself. The second the guy started complaining that he didn't want to go in the first place but his wife pressured him to.... so he went despite his reservations...and

                so on....brings up the instructor not having kids..characterizing her with a genderized term like "bitching"...I instantly dismissed much of his perspective as being

                prejudiced by the fact he simply didn't want to be there and probably that he doesn't respect women in authority. I'd hope that if his daughter continues her martial

                arts training and becomes an instructor that she'd have more respectful students then his own post suggests he was.

                More broadly though, the burden of the Martial Arts experience does not rest solely upon the Instructor. As a student you have certain responsibilities too, the most

                basic of which is a sincere desire to be there, which by the original posters own admission was lacking. Think about it, if I wrote a negative review of a movie saying

                I didn't want to see it in the first place but my wife made me go, the review's objectivity would be obviously in question, just as I question this one. I'm not

                making a conclusion and I'm not trying to win an argument on a forum, I'm throwing a question out there for consideration, if someone goes into an experience with a

                predisposition against it, how succcesful will it be? That is my first point.

                My second point;

                I have spent 30 years in Martial Arts study, I studied Aikido, Wing Chun and Tae Kwon Do. I'm not a world champion, in fact, after decades of training I got kicked in

                the head by an 8 year old last night, I'm not Ip Man by a long shot, I'm never gonna be the guy the whole Dojang stops to watch throw a side kick, I'm never gonna have

                400 students, in fact I failed my first Yellow Belt test in both Aikido AND Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do, I make no claims of Martial Arts awesomeness, that being said, I

                have spent many hours in many different types of Dojos & Dojangs with many different types of instructors with varying student age groups, and levels of contact across

                the full spectrum and I can say this with certainty, I would never characterize the Sensei or Sobanim or Sifu of a school as "Bitching at me" because they were

                enforcing the clearly defined code of conduct of THEIR OWN school. When a student fails to abide by the prescribed rule of a Dojang, they are in the wrong, not the

                instructor for enforcing it. What you prefer stylisitically is your own business, different strokes, but the second you walk into their school, your personal

                preferences are irrelevant, you must be 100% committed to supporting the school policies or else you are in the wrong. If every student decided that they would just

                act according to their own preferences, only chaos and injury would prevail. Going to a non contact school and getting upset because you are rebuked for making contact

                is just as absurd as going to a full contact school and complaining about getting hit. Saying "The school is non contact and I don't like that" is fine, calling out

                the instructor publicly for enforcing the rules of their own Dojang is not cool.

                I think the reviewer referenced Shotokan as his primary previous experience. I'd encourage him then to read or re-read Funikoshi's "Karate Do: My Way of Life". In it

                the founder of Shotokan itself talks how he went to many different schools while training and always respected the instructor, if advice helped him, he'd retain the

                information and thank the instructor. If the advice was something he didn't agree with, he still thanked the Instructor and silently "forget" the advice. A uniting

                principle of all martial arts is respect & humility.

                It's funny how the Bruce Lee "empty your cup" thing seems such a cliche yet as the original post proves, it remains an elusive ideal for so many......

                Non Anonymously,
                Dave Schwartz
                Philadelphia, PA


                  The board breaking seminar was another McDojo-ish practice at Paramount. Why would I pay additional $$ (on top of the regular tuition fees) when I already know how to break boards? This coincides with all the other special events (Parent's Night Out, nunchaku taught by a teenager with no credentials, etc.). All of the other McDojo practices (Black Belt Club contracts, etc.) are discussed above. The absolutey no-contact sparring is just one of the issues there.

                  I am now at another martial arts school, so maybe we will cross paths and "thump" someday; it would be fun and at least we can get some real practice in and test our skills.


                    Dave - this has nothing to do with respecting women in authority. You are making assumptions without evidence. Also, please leave my daughter out of it (she is already a woman in authorty in my house!). Lecturing someone you don't know about about how to treat women or raise their daughter is a little too much.

                    Perhaps the Paramount owner has a problem with men. There are anumber of former students who have this opinion, and I wasn't going to bring gender up, but YOU did.

                    There are many quality issues at Paramount. I was not "100% committed" anymore because the quality and program changed over time. I went there in the first place because it was "the only game in town" that practiced something close to the classical Okinawan (via Japan)-based forms. A few tang soo do schools have recently opened in Somerset, along with a new chung do kwan (CDK) school. I would recommend that prospective consumers in the area, especially experienced martial artists looking for a place to train, investigate their alternatives.

                    Please don't hit me with Funakoshi philosophy; I am very open minded to other styles and perspectives. My review focused on the quality of training and instruction at Paramount; that's the whole point of the Bullshido reviews.

                    Finally, I have noticed that the responses to my review have been mostly from the Paramount owner's CDK cronies who have just joined Bullshido. This seems like a coordinated effort to discredit the review; that's fine, at least Bullshido has some new members.


                      Lots of long posts here - kind of hard to follow on my phone, but if this place really does have a "no contact" policy, then the aliveness, striking and grappling scores need to be revised as they are too high.


                        Also, I can't do a load of quoting right now, but I feel Frank Copola simply attacks the OP without actually addressing his complaints.



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