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On Guard

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

AS INSTRUCTOR MICHAEL Hrynko looks on, Mike McArdle of Jeffersonville, left, defends himself as Marcus Henley of Ferndale attempts to kick him during a sparring session at the Delaware Community Center in Callicoon.

Couple Teaches
Martial Arts to All

By Rob Potter
CALLICOON — December 26, 2003 – The Delaware Community Center in Callicoon hosts many different events during the year.
But between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. every Monday, people of all ages come to the building to improve their minds and bodies.
Adults and children alike perform kicks, punches and several other exercises in lessons given by Sullivan West Martial Arts.
Under the direction of instructors Michael and Susan Hrynko, students of all ages and abilities learn a hybrid system of martial arts that includes Soo Bahk, Hapkido, Judo and Kung Fu. As noted on the Sullivan West Martial Arts Web site, the goal of martial arts “is peace, harmony, humility, self-improvement, and, of course, to protect what no one has a right to take away – your well-being.”
Dozens of people are currently enrolled in the Hrynkos’ classes. Those students range from 3 1/2-years-old to 72-years-old.
“We teach a lot, including exercise, endurance, flexibility and muscle control,” Susan Hrynko said.
Hrynko explained that much of what she and her husband teach is self-discipline, which is useful for people who work as security guards and in related professions.
“We use the mellow defense system, which is a blend of different Korean martial arts,” she said. “We are practicing techniques that have been around for hundreds of years.”
In some classes, the students focus on “hyung,” which means form. They practice different kicks, punches and movements with razor-sharp precision. During other sessions, the students also put on protective gear and spar with each other.
And Susan Hrynko noted that about 60 percent of adults who participate also have children in the classes. For example, among the students in the Monday evening sessions at the community center are Linda Cruz of Rileyville, Pa. and her daughters Jenna-Lee Franciosa and Kathleen Rodriguez.
While many Hollywood movies and television shows have featured characters who use the martial arts, demonstrating excessive aggression and force is not what martial arts is truly about.
“We don’t teach violence, we teach self-defense,” said Michael Hrynko, who has been studying the martial arts since he was 6 years old.
In fact, Michael Hrynko is such a talented martial artist that he will soon be inducted into the Action Magazine Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Next month, Hrynko will travel to the awards ceremony at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City. He noted that the three-day event will feature about 4,500 people, including scores of martial artists and boxers. Among the pugilists expected to attend are former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier and Chuck Wepner, who fought Muhammad Ali in the 1970s and was the inspiration for the classic movie “Rocky.” Wepner is also Michael Hrynko’s cousin.
Next spring, the Hrynkos will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening of their studio in Walton. In addition to that location and the Delaware Community Center, the couple also teaches martial arts classes at the White Sulphur Springs Firehouse and in the studio at their home outside of North Branch.
For more information about Sullivan West Martial Arts, please call 482-9079 or visit the Web site

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