Tiger Rock brings mental and physical benefits to Lee

Tiger Rock brings mental and physical benefits to Lee

Tiger Rock students practice their moves.Photo by Jonathan Perelman

Tiger Rock, an international martial arts organization, has made self-defense and mental stability a reality for Lee students for 10 years.

Senior master and seventh degree black belt, Rick Pope, instructs this class. Pope has been teaching at Lee for 10 years and has over 30 years of experience in Tiger Rock martial arts. Pope is the 14th highest rank in the entire Tiger Rock organization and he is one of only six Tiger Rock black belts at Lee University.

The PHED 136, 137 and 138 class is offered at Lee every semester. This class is like other classes in that it enhances mental capacity, but also provides students the ability to defend themselves in hand-to-hand combat.

Pope believes that martial arts is beneficial in many ways, particularly mentally and physically.

'If you're looking at building self-esteem and confidence, martial arts do all that,' Pope said. 'The physical benefits are that they will become more tone, they may lose weight, they will be quicker, more flexible and learning how to be healthy.'

A transfer student and Tiger Rock black belt from Olson's Martial Arts in Johnson City, Tennessee, Adam Carty believes that discipline and health are the primary benefits of martial arts.

'This program is good for discipline [and] how to treat others properly,' Carty said. 'It also teaches you how to keep up with your health and how to maintain physical activity in order to stay healthy and fit.'

Senior Lee student and black belt Tonya Mcgraner also believes that martial arts has many benefits. One major benefit is the amount of respect that comes from the program.

'We answer, 'Yes sir' anytime [Pope] says anything,' Mcgraner said. 'There aren't a lot of places where you have that kind of respect for an authority figure anymore ' It's very structured and disciplined.'

Tiger Rock accepts anyone who decides to join or wants to take the class. There are no prerequisites; in fact, they prefer the students to not have any prior experience.

'You could have the most uncoordinated person start gaining flexibility, coordination, timing and muscle development; all of that starts to happen right away,' Pope said. 'We prefer them not to have any prior experience if they can help it, this way we don't have to un-learn habits that may or may not be good.'

Although the Tiger Rock organization will train anyone that signs up for a class, they also train and recommend martial arts to some of the best athletes in the world. They have trained the Minnesota Vikings, an NFL team, and the Louisiana State University football team.

Pope believes that it is a great way to improve athletic abilities and skills.

'An athlete taking a Tae Kwan Do class is a really important thing,' Pope said. 'What we are teaching [athletes] is helping them in their athletic skills'It enhances their athletic ability.'

The Tiger Rock organization has also trained the U.S. military. They train the troops to defend themselves and teach them Elite Counter Aggression Skills (ECAS).

While Tiger Rock trains athletes throughout the world, they are not a tournament-based organization. They have three tournaments a year, two local and one world championship, held every July.

The upcoming local tournament is held in Chattanooga, Tennessee on November 15. All Lee University Tiger Rock students will compete in that tournament. Pope is excited about the local tournament in November, but he's more excited about the location of the World Championships in July.

'The one in July is our World Championship,' Pope said. 'People from Spain, England, Italy, California, Colorado and Arkansas, all the Tiger Rock schools come together where you have thousands upon thousands of competitors meet in a central location. The one coming up in July of 2015 is in Nashville, Tennessee. It's never been that close.'

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