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Local boy earns black belt

Scott Grossman, left, proudly holds his black belt trophy Dec. 12 while standing next to his instructor Thad Ekle of the U.S. Taekwondo Academy in Marysville. - Courtesy photo
Scott Grossman, left, proudly holds his black belt trophy Dec. 12 while standing next to his instructor Thad Ekle of the U.S. Taekwondo Academy in Marysville.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

MARYSVILLE — Scott Grossman has been active in martial arts since October of 2004, almost half of his 11-year-old life. He followed his brother Shane and his mother Lisa into taekwondo classes, and on Dec. 12 he celebrated his black belt graduation ceremony at the U.S. Taekwondo Academy in Marysville.

What makes Scott’s progress especially remarkable is that he has Down syndrome.

Lisa Grossman explained that Scott started at the U.S. Taekwondo Academy in the “Little Tigers” class for younger children, and he had trouble focusing at first.

“Scott would not stay in class, or he would roll or spin around in class, but now, he tries really hard and gives it his best,” Lisa Grossman said. “Taekwondo has really helped him with his coordination. It challenges him mentally and physically, and also helps him listen and follow directions.”

According to Grossman, children with Down Syndrome tend to have a mental limit of four or five things that they can remember at one time, whereas other children tend to be able to remember almost twice that amount. She credited taekwondo with increasing his memory capacity through forms training.

U.S. Taekwondo Academy instructor Thad Ekle explained that “forms” are set patterns of movements against imaginary attackers, and in order to earn his black belt, Scott had to perform eight forms, each one anywhere from 20 to 40 movements long.

“Scott was held to the same standards as the other children, with one accommodation of being able to perform his test in several stages, instead of all at once,” Ekle said. “He also demonstrated various kicking, punching and self-defense techniques, with a grand finale of breaking eight boards with different kicking and hand techniques. He’s come a long way since he started. He definitely deserves his black belt, because he’s done all the same things as other students, even though it’s been twice as hard for him to do.”

Scott is already working toward his second degree black belt, and Lisa Grossman, who tested for her third degree black belt, plans to help.

For more information on the U.S. Taekwondo Academy in Marysville, call 360-651-1171.

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