In the wake of the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, communities are coming together to find ways to better protect their children and cope with easing their anxiety.
Last week, Fort Lee held a Town Hall meeting moderated by Mayor Mark Sokolich and attended by the heads of all the emergency services units, whereby parents were given the opportunity to weigh in and question the experts about the level of security offered to their children while in school.
Sitting in the audience was Simon Kim, proprietor of Tiger Twins Tae Kwon Do Academy and a Grandmaster in the sport. Though having no children of his own, Kim's clients are all children. Children of all ages who come to his academy not only to learn the art of tae kwon do, but to learn the skill of confidence building and self-awareness.
Kim, 47, understands because he was once a victim of bullying. He says it is that background that gives him an advantage in understanding the reality of fears children face everyday.
"I was born in Korea, but my family moved to the Bronx when I was six-years old," Kim said. Eventually they moved to New Jersey.
"At that time, Asian-Americans were not as readily accepted into society as we are today," he said.
It is that background that he credits with giving him an understanding of what it is like to grow up ethnic in a cross-cultural dynamic.
"I can relate to the alienation and fear that some of these kids have," Kim said. "I can help them. I want to help them."
Kim found physical and emotional coordination and balance in martial arts. His father, also a grandmaster, conditioned both Kim and his identical twin brother James, with the discipline of the family business.
But Kim wanted more than just to be part of the family business. Growing up on John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies, he wanted Hollywood bravado--and he got it, appearing in over 45 films, theater, and countless television shows and commercials.
Kim achieved roles in The Tuxedo with Jackie Chan; Batman and Robin with George Clooney; and Exit Wounds with Steven Segal. He also has a role in this summer's blockbuster Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro.
He is also a stand-up comedian. It is these traits--actor, entertainer, comedian and skilled martial arts expert--that allow him to connect with the kids almost immediately.
"There isn't a kid out there who doesn't connect through laughter," Kim said. "That's how I connect with them and gain their confidence."
Kim stresses that children are faced with all kinds of difficult situations everyday--from feeling unsafe in their school environment given the recent shooting, to being bullied.
"I grew up being bullied," Kim said. "I'm a very strong advocate for anti-bullying and the schools HIB programs. (Harrassment, Intimidation and Bullying.)
Kim said the focus of his seminars will be on building a child's self-confidence, using body to project confidence, learning basic self-defense skills to make a child feel confident when they are alone, and breathing techniques that help the body remain calm even when it's not.
"My seminars will contain mental, physical and spiritual components to equip children with the tools that will make them stand strong," Kim said.
He would also like to partner with schools in presenting some of his techniqes to HIB programs. His intent is to teach children how to be strong role models.
"Tiger Twins is all about giving back to the community," Kim stressed. "That is most important to me."
To learn more about future workshops Kim will be offering, or to learn more about the classes he currently offers, call 201-242-5551.
Tiger Twins Academy is located at 2151 Lemoine Ave., Fort Lee, inside the Walgreens shopping center.