Spellbinding storyteller Beth Horner returns to Homewood Stories Sept. 15

Taekwondo instructor Patti Barnum demonstrates a 
punch. Barnum recently was awarded the rank of 
chief master instructor, making her among the 
elite in martial arts instruction.
(Photo by 
Marilyn Thomas/HF Chronicle)

Patti Barnum, owner of Success Now Taekwondo in Homewood, is among the elite Taekwondo instructors in the United States having been elevated to the rank of chief master instructor.  She is only the fifth U.S. woman to receive the title. 

The honor was bestowed on Barnum at the July 2015 annual meeting of the American Taekwondo Association (ATA). Barnum’s status also means she is now one of 36 chief master Taekwondo instructors recognized by ATA, Songahm Taekwondo Federation covering South America and the World Traditional Taekwondo Union, serving remaining nations in the world.

“There’s nobody that can’t do Taekwondo,” Barnum stresses. “Right now I have a woman in class who’s 68. My oldest student was 78, so there is no time that you can’t do Taekwondo. I’ve taught children and their parents. I’ve taught deaf and blind students and others with handicaps. I’m a firm believer in it.”

Barnum has been a Taekwondo instructor for 36 years, and has owned her own Success Now Taekwondo school in Homewood for 29 years. She has been at 2018 Ridge Road in downtown Homewood for 26 years teaching the fundamentals of the sport that goes back more than 1,000 years in Korea. 

Taekwondo is self-defense martial arts. Barnum’s lessons include kicks, punches and ways to release from someone’s holds. Taekwondo comes from three Chinese/Korean words: Tae meaning to kick or jump; Kwon meaning fist or hand; and Do meaning the way.  It can be loosely translated as “the way of the hand and foot.”

As students progress, they earn belts. Barnum said it starts at white and goes through nine color belts. The final one is the Black Belt, which has its own nine levels. Barnum is an eighth degree Black Belt. The ninth degree is awarded to the grand master of the ATA organization. Her new chief master instructor title is a level below the grand master.

Barnum decided to learn Taekwondo as a self-defense measure after she found herself surrounded by a gang in a parking lot as she walked with her two young daughters.

Once the perpetrators let her pass, Barnum remembers: “I was so scared I didn’t do anything and that’s what the average woman does. We don’t know how to protect and defend ourselves, so I started taking martial arts thinking in six weeks I’d know how to protect myself and my daughters.”

While she learned the fundamentals, Barnum said she kept at it to improve her strength and her response times because when you’re attacked “the brain turns into a cloud. Fear paralysis kicks in and you stop breathing. It’s an automatic reaction and the brain doesn’t get oxygen. You don’t know why you couldn’t think of what to do.  Our job is to make the students do things over and over again so they don’t think but just react when grabbed or attacked.

“I’m still learning and my goal is to make children and adults prepared so that nobody is without a thought of what to do; at least they have some plan of attack in a situation,” she said. “I tell them they have to practice so many times until it becomes reactive so if someone touches you, you just do it automatically.

“They also have the self-control to stand still because the attacker will taunt you and want you to do something and you use your Taekwondo skills,” she explained. The lessons also help strengthen a student’s confidence by reinforcing integrity and a positive attitude.

Barnum offers women’s groups a three-hour seminar reviewing self-defense protections and what to do in certain situations. It’s a good start, but she said reinforcing the methods through Taekwondo is the best protection.

Success Now Taekwondo offers lessons between 5 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Information is available at 708-799-3478.

Students practice moves in one of Patti Barnum’s Taekwondo
(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/HF Chronicle)


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