Richard Wagner has been training at the in Monroe since he was nine-years-old and he went on to teach the martial art there for 18 years. Wagner now runs the studio as a family business.
"I had always wanted to open my own studio since I've been teaching," said Wagner, who grew up in Monroe. "My dad got his black belt here. He was training too."
Wagner said Taekwondo is very similar to karate.
"Taekwondo is a stand up style with kicks and punches," he said. "It's all open hand, no weapons. There's more cardio exercise and it's more of a workout than the grappling and throwing style."
Wagner said Taekwondo is a newer martial art form that was created for the Korean Army. "It's about 65 years old," he added.
The American Institute of Tae Kwon Do was owned and operated by Neale White at 380 Monroe Turnpike, until he moved to Georgia five years ago. Wagner and his father, also named Richard, decided to buy the business.
"I run it with my whole family," Wagner said.
His mother, Lorraine, who used to teach at the Kiddy Campus at United Methodist Church in Monroe, assists with developing course curriculum. And Wagner said his girlfriend, Polly Schwarz of Oxford, provides moral support.
In mid-June, the American Institute of Tae Kwon Do moved into its new space at 435 Main Street.
The studio has classes for people age four to adults, so being in a shopping center with Last Drop Coffee Shop & Cafe and Salon DARIN is ideal for parents waiting for their children to finish their workouts, according to Wagner.
"I love it. The studio itself is better and there's more stuff for parents to do when their kids are training," he said.
American Institute of Tae Kwon Do teaches traditional Taekwondo. Wagner said its instructors strive to instill discipline and focus in their students. The institute also offers aerobic kickboxing, a women's self defense course, and is just starting to offer yoga and Tai Chi, Wagner said.
When asked how he would define Taekwondo, Wagner said, "It's the ability to influence your life holistically, mind and body."