Stepping up

A student has become the teacher at a local taekwondo class.

Webster City Martial Arts has been active for years. It began with Ron Sumpter who has been teaching for about 35 years, first in Marshalltown and then in Webster City. Currently, the class is taught Saturdays at 9 a.m. in the Webster City Church of Christ and Mondays at 8 p.m. across the street in The Bridge.

The class is a small but tight-knit group. Sumpter said he’s taught classes with as many as 33 people. However, he prefers smaller classes which let him spend more time with each student.

“I wanted to know all of my students and I really care about them,” Sumpter said. “We are all really close here.”

For years, Sumpter has joked with one of his students, Chase Magers, that he would retire from teaching the class. Now, after Magers has attended his classes for 14 years, he is set to take over when Sumpter retires on Dec. 2. Even though Sumpter said he will still visit the class and occasionally instruct it, Magers said he will be sad to see him step down.

“(Sumpter) has been like a father to me,” Magers said. “My mom and dad got divorced in 2000 and he has always been there for me since. He has absolutely been a second father to me. We actually joke that I’m his adopted taekwondo son. The relationships you create through this is absolutely unbreakable.”

Even through this time of transition, Magers and his students find peace through practicing taekwondo. Magers said the class is his rock that he can always rely on whether he has a good day or a bad day. Student Chelsea Clum echoed that sentiment.

“It feels very good to be doing it. It’s just kind of a way to get away from the problems of the world everyday and I makes you feel so good when you’re there and it makes you feel so good afterwards. I always look forward to going to class,” Platt said.

At Monday’s class, Magers taught three students. Clum brings years of experience to the class, while another student, Leah Platt, is newer to the class. Magers walks through some of the moves with her to help her along the learning process.

“As a teacher, my greatest joy is seeing someone who loves this art do great or even better than I do on some things. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. That’s my goal is to help anyone who wants to come,” Magers said.

The classes are open to people of all skill levels. Magers said anyone is welcome to sit-in on a class or to contact him at 573-644-2778. He also said he is learning kobudo which he plans to also instruct in the near future.