Kids have a blast learning valuable skills on & off the mat


Lil Dragons take to the mat!

Mr. Jeffrey Jox, instructor of Kang’s Black Belt Academy, strides across the red and blue mat of the academy. He calls his Lil’ Dragons to attention within an organized line, seated and focused for their trial ahead.

The parents take their seats, as their Lil’ Dragons prepare. Their test is about to begin.

One child clings to his mother, nervous, not wanting to leave her side. He’s hesitant of taking the next step. She takes him aside to console him. Jox approaches them and smiles, assuring he’ll do fine. The boy bows and walks upon the mat to join the other Dragons.

Jox approaches his students, eager and waiting. “Are you ready to have some fun?!” he asks with enthusiasm, and they cheer back. The Lil’ Dragons are ready. The testing begins. Their names are announced, and the Lil’ Dragons rush to their spots with great hustle and “pepper” in their step, ready to take the initiative towards excellence. They flap their Lil’ Dragon wings and take deep Dragon breaths. Attention is called, and the Dragons are ready.

With a background in Tae Kwon Do and Alternative Education, Jox, who’s had a distinguished tournament career with 5 PKRA state sparring champion titles and numerous top ten positions, applies these aspects of martial arts and education by evaluating individual strengths on auditory and
tactile development.

Kang’s Black Belt Academy executes the Five Rules of Black Belt Excellence: Set Goals, Take Action, Pay Attention to Details, If it doesn’t work fix it, and Practice-practice-practice. These rules apply to class and for everyday tasks and decision-making. The set guidelines help give the students focus. The most important rule Jox emphasizes is “If it doesn’t work, fix it.” This rule promotes problem-solving, Jox’s way of guiding students to self-achievement and figuring out what works best for them to proceed.

There are key aspects in the guidance of students within the program. The Lil’ Dragons are taught how to do a stance, with emphasis on “Why?” Jox refers to this as a “Martial Arts Tactic.” Attention-Stance is coordinated to improve listening skills, while Ready-Position represents goal-setting and taking initiative towards achievement.

Bowing represents making good choices and showing respect towards others.

Skill-sets are implemented early on within the Lil’ Dragons program which discipline students in the art of Tae Kwon Do with development in important life skills including stranger danger, fire safety, anti-drug awareness, gun safety and motor-skill development. However, the most important goal is for students to be active and have fun.

Weapon defense classes follow three guidelines or the “ABC’s”, Avoidance, Bargaining, and Control. For the Lil’ Dragon’s, they follow “The Poop Principle” where gun safety and dangerous object awareness is critical.

“Don’t touch it and it can’t hurt you. I tell the students, you wouldn’t touch poop in the yard would you? And they get a laugh out of it,” said Jox. This allows the students to learn important lessons while also having fun in the process.

Parents are encouraged to oversee activities. They have a key role in implementing the responsibilities of a Lil’ Dragon within their home to help reinforce their child’s learning and development. Active and participating students are rewarded for achievements with a gold star to help process the understanding of achieving good-deeds.

At Kang’s Black Belt Academy, Jox and his instructors do not teach Lil’ Dragons, they guide them towards being better and more enriched individuals. Earning a star, a stripe, or belt is not just a reward, rather these are a series of lessons they acquire for life.

For more information on how your child can become a Lil’ Dragon, visit, call 724-263-6473, or stop by and visit Kang’s at 411 Richland Avenue in Canonsburg.
Story by Aaron Dalzell for Pennsylvania Bridges

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