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Reaching goals

Sunday, July 29, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:29 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Green belt Larry Barker from Kirksville practices outside the Rock Bridge gym before his turn in the tae kwon do competition. Last year he took part as a white belt.

Columbia-As a child, he was glued to the television screen, captivated by his martial arts idols — Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and David Carradine. These stars inspired 39-year old James Goodwin of Mexico to start tae kwon do.

As a child he wanted to imitate his favorite stars, but was unable to take lessons because his family couldn’t afford it. His passion for martial arts finally broke free three-and-a-half years ago when he got a job as a graphic printer and could afford to take tae kwon do lessons.

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This year, Goodwin returned for his second year at the Show-Me State Games, but this year, he returned as a black belt.

“The most difficult part of martial arts is the discipline,” Goodwin said. “You have to have a lot of it.”

Goodwin trains at The Auxvasse Martial Arts studio twice a week, but trains at home everyday. But he does not train alone. His two sons Benson Goodwin, 10, and Brian Goodwin, 8, have followed in their father’s footsteps. They started tae kwon do two years ago and have earned their first green belts.

Despite their belts, Goodwin said he didn’t think his sons were ready for the Show-Me State Games. He thought they were too young and did not have the mentality for it, so he didn’t bring them along to Saturday’s competition at Rock Bridge High School.

“They are on their way,” Goodwin said. “Right now they enjoy it because they can beat each other up.”

Goodwin’s reason for training is quite different than his sons.

“Tae kwon do builds confidence. It gets you out of your shell,” Goodwin said.

Before starting tae kwon do, Goodwin said he never wanted to be bothered, shake anyone’s hand or engage in a friendly conversation. After three years of training, Goodwin said he has no problem talking to strangers.

“I want to do this till the day I die, or as long as my body lets me keep going,” Goodwin said.


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