KANNAPOLIS, NC—Describing the practice as a fun way to liven up what are often routine and repetitive classes, local tae kwon do instructor Chris Fergus told reporters Friday he always gets a little thrill from partnering up two completely mismatched 8-year-olds during sparring sessions. “Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I always look for the most timid kid in the class—one whose robe is usually falling off his shoulders because he’s probably no more than 45 pounds—and put him up against a big, aggressive kid in the middle of a growth spurt, and then just sit back and watch the show,” said Fergus, explaining how, after a minute or so of lopsided combat, he likes to pull aside the smaller of the two to remind him of several self-defense fundamentals and tell him to “remember that strength comes from focus, not size,” before sending him back onto the mat to get knocked around some more. “To be honest, I’m usually already eyeing which ones I want to pit against each other before I even start the day’s lesson. Man, just to see the look on the tiny one’s face when he tries to put up his hands in a blocking stance but still takes a reverse hook kick right to the chest—it never fails to brighten my day.” At press time, Fergus was reportedly trying to suppress a smile after a hesitant, barely 4-foot-tall bespectacled child walked into the studio for his first day of yellow-belt class.


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