Teen carries on family tradition

Published 11:40 am Friday, October 14, 2011

Photo provided by Jayden Anderson Jayden Anderson (foreground), 13, of Niles, will be the instructor for a taekwondo class at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. Jayden is the grandson of Chief Master Richard Anderson, an eighth-degree black belt. The classes will begin the week of Oct. 24. Also pictured are Jayden's younger brothers, Kalen and Jayson.

Jayden Anderson is a straight “A” student. He addresses adults as “sir” and “ma’am” and aspires to one day be a prosecuting attorney.
He is a brown belt in taekwondo, just two ranks from a black belt, and will begin teaching classes this month.
And, yes, he is 13.
When he talks about his passion for taekwondo, it’s easy to tell the Ring Lardner Middle School eighth-grader is not the typical teenager.
“You don’t just learn to kick and punch, but you learn discipline and respect,” he said. “It has gotten me so far in life, because it’s been instilled in me my whole life — respect, respect, respect, focus, focus, focus.”
Jayden, of Niles, will be the instructor of a seven-week taekwondo program at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA beginning Oct. 24.
Taekwondo is certainly in his blood. His grandfather, Dowagiac native Chief Master Richard Anderson, is an eighth-degree black belt and ran taekwondo centers in Cassopolis, Niles and Mishawaka in the 1970s and ‘80s. He currently operates Anderson’s Tae Kwon Do Center Camp Positive in Little Rock, Ark., where Jayden trains in the summer.
“Every time I go down to visit my grandfather or he comes up on Thanksgiving, he’s always up at 6 in the morning, saying ‘alright, let’s see what you guys got and what you guys remember,’” Jayden said.
Richard runs a program for inner-city youth through his center that blends taekwondo training with moral teachings. Jayden was a counselor for the camp this summer.
“He takes kids off the streets and teaches them taekwondo,” Jayden said. “They’re around positivity all day long, where normally these kids are around negativity. It’s just a really good camp.”
Jayden’s grandmother is a third-degree black belt, and his mother is a second-degree black belt. His younger brothers, Kalen and Jayson, are training as well.
Jayden says he enjoys the competitive aspect of the sport. This summer, he finished first in sparring and third in forms at the World Tae Kwon Do Championships in Little Rock, Ark.
“I really look forward to sparring, to be able to put what you’ve been learning to use,” he said.
Jayden will be teaching two classes, Tiny Tigers for ages 5 to 6 and Karate for Kids for ages 7 to 12. The students will learn white belt techniques and forms, along with leadership and listening skills.
“I’m looking forward to saying, ‘I helped mold this kid.’ I showed him what to do,” Jayden said.
For more information about the classes or to register, contact the Niles-Buchanan YMCA at (269) 683-1552.