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Martial Artists

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

MASTER INSTRUCTOR ALEXANDRA Lalieu, center, and four of her students take a break during a recent class. Pictured with Lalieu are, from left to right, Jose Godinez, Barbara Schmitt, Aaron Schmitt and Rachel Schmitt.

Mountaindale's Upstate
Karate Faring Well

By Rob Potter
MOUNTAINDALE — April 1, 2005 – In June 2004, Upstate Karate of Mountaindale, Inc. celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Nearly a year later, business is booming at the martial arts DoJang located at 81 Main Street in Mountaindale.
In the past few months, the number of adults and children who attend classes at Upstate Karate has grown tremendously. The school’s instructor, Alexandra Lalieu, teaches four classes on Sunday mornings and 14 more afternoon and evening classes Monday through Thursday. (The DoJang is closed on Friday and Saturday.)
“This is very exciting, the local people have been great,” said Lalieu, a lifelong resident of Sullivan County and graduate of Tri-Valley Central School.
Lalieu, who is a 4th Dan Certified Soo Bahk Do Master Instructor, began studying the martial arts in 1986. She currently trains weekly at Frampton’s Soo Bahk Do in New Windsor under Master Frampton and monthly at Federation Headquarters in Springfield, NJ under Grandmaster Hyun Chul Hwang. (Hwang Yee, who was Hyun Chul Hwang’s father, founded the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan form of karate in 1945.)
To reach master level status, Lalieu had to endure an eight-day test of mental and physical abilities.
“It is a test of your mind, body and spirit,” she said.
While Lalieu said it is “very, very special to have reached the master level,” she is more concerned with teaching her students properly.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the art,” she said.
Currently, Lalieu teaches Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, which is a form of traditional Korean karate, to dozens of men, women and children. Her youngest student is just 3 and 1/2 years old and some of her adult students are in their 60s.
“I teach in a positive way,” Lalieu explained. “I want my students to get all they can out of the classes. I want them to gain confidence and improve their abilities.”
One woman who can attest to that is Barbara Schmitt. She attends classes at Upstate Karate on Wednesday afternoons with her 10-year-old son Aaron and 8-year-old daughter Rachel.
“She really nurtures people’s self-esteem,” Barbara Schmitt said of Lalieu. “She explains the techniques carefully and really helps you get the most out of the class.”
Schmitt noted that she really enjoys the mental and physical benefits she gains from studying Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan.
“Sometimes when I wake up the morning after a class I am really sore,” she said. “But that’s OK. It just means that you worked hard and you earned it.”
Lalieu noted that she teaches “people of all ages and all physical abilities.”
“Being able to bring more people into the art is great,” Lalieu said. “It really excites me and helps fulfill me as a person.”
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan this year, the DoJang is offering one month of free karate lessons. Lalieu noted that this is a “no strings attached” offer for people to learn more about the martial arts.
For more information about Upstate Karate of Mountaindale, Inc., please call 434-0500.

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