Defender Teaches Defense
By Ann Crane
Who said you can't get your kicks in Martinez? Participants executed endless amounts of them, along with blocks, strikes and fiercely annunciated "EHH!"'s in Tuesday night's Taekwondo lesson.
The auditorium at Martinez Adult Education was a sea of traditional white uniforms; students wearing different colored belts signifying rank. Orange belts lined the front; white belts in formation behind them, and a lone extra, extra white belt had a corner all to herself. Jordan Schreiber, local Public Defender and class instructor wears a very dark, fifth-degree, black belt.
While struggling to maintain a semi-upright position while balanced on a one, shaky leg, this participant watched Schreiber demonstrate a series of kicks while holding his own leg at what seemed a one hundred and forty degree angle. It seemed a natural position for him, his limb held perfectly still while conversationally explaining the details of the move.
After a full hour of holding balance postures while repeating kicks or strikes, the class bowed to each other and our instructor. Some class members shared their thoughts about Taekwondo. Orange belt, Loni DeSoto, said that she has always wanted to do some kind of martial arts. A member of the biker group The Survivors, DeSoto said that the class allows her to put everything else out of her mind. "Honestly, I was at the point in my life where I just needed to do something completely for myself, something that wasn't for my family in some way, something that was just for me," DeSoto said.
Schreiber explained that he has taught Taekwondo in every location he has been. He taught in New Haven while studying at Harvard and his experience working with kids from that underprivileged neighborhood was formative. "Groups of kids would stop by after school, and they just started hanging out at the Taekwondo center. They would show me their homework, talk about bullies at school. When someone discovered that one boy was smoking cigarettes, his neighbor called me," Schreiber said. He went on to describe how that boy and his brother signed up for classes on their own, arranging to work off their dues. "I would set goals with students every month, from academic goals to extremely basic ones, like sitting still in church. After time, a difference in these kids could be seen," he said.
Schreiber plans to continue the work he has done with underprivileged children with a non-profit organization he is starting called Team PRIDE. Team PRIDE's programs and services will combine disciplined martial arts training, mentorship, leadership development, and close cooperation with the court and educational systems. This combination will enable Team PRIDE to identify "at risk" children and intervene positively in their lives.
If Schreiber's class was any indication of the discipline he embodies, the non-profit he is starting, as well as the class he is running here in Martinez, are both destined for success.
© 2003 Martinez News-Gazette