Master Sang Mee became the full-time chief operating officer of her family’s marital arts business in 2014. In the late 1970s, her father, Grand Master Pyong Tuk Ko, migrated from South Korea to the United States with the intention of joining the business of martial arts. Master Sang Mee says, “During this time, my dad knew the pop culture in the United States was very focused on martial arts because of its popularity on film and television.” To express the culture of martial arts in the United States was an ode to the culture her father held very close to his heart. Her father opened World Martial Arts in Yorktown, describing it as a traditional form of combat that allows an individual to further his or her physical, emotional and spiritual development skills. World Martial Arts specializes in Taekwondo, one of the oldest arts of self-defense originating in Korea, dating back to more than 2,000 years ago.
The studio is approximately 9,000 square feet with the space for three separate training rooms. The services provided range from select programs targeted to individuals of all ages with members from ages three to 81. An after-school program is offered for children as well as evening classes. There are classes for beginners as well as for advanced members. Self-defense training workshops are available for local sports teams, Girl Scout troops and Newport News Shipyard employees.
The mission of World Martial Arts as Master Sang Mee describes it is “To help people build their confidence, focus, energy, find their community and stay connected to their spirit.” Master Sang Mee elaborates on the importance of inclusivity in the studio with regard to members with disabilities ranging from ADHD to Autism. She says that although martial arts may seem an intimidating art or sport, the studio staff values the importance of providing all members with benefits regardless of their physical and mental status. Plans include adding a second instructor and opening another location.
Master Sang Mee began her formal education at the University of Virginia. “I was originally going into pre-med; however, I decided I wanted to pursue my passion for martial arts and decided to join my family’s business.” She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental science and has moved forward in pursuing her MBA degree at the College of William & Mary in hopes of gaining entrepreneurial insight in her family business. She has recently earned her six-degree black belt and written a dissertation for the Kukkiwon Korean program on the importance of including children with Autism in the world of martial arts. In her free time, Master Sang Mee enjoys running, writing and spending time with her new “Taekwonbaby” as she recently has started her journey of motherhood.
TO THE POINT:
Company: World Martial Arts
Address: 2115 George Washington Memorial Hwy., Yorktown, VA 23693
Contact: Master Sang Mee