As Joseph Yoon prepares to open the fourth location of his family-owned Sky Martial Arts in downtown Los Altos in mid-January, he believes he’s found the perfect spot, because the city is at “the peak of everything.”
“If you look at the bakeries, you look at the restaurants, they are all world class, right?” he said, a week after being handed the keys to 248 Main St., site of the new studio. “What we want to do is provide the students here with something that they can take with them … to the next level.”
According to Yoon, a soft opening is scheduled this month, and the grand opening is set for Jan. 18 and 19. With mats lining the floors and college flags adorning the paneled walls, it’s likely that residents familiar with the previous tenant, children’s clothing store Kids Only, will be doing a double take.
Sky Martial Arts is a sports taekwondo studio, with a mission to build the confidence and skills necessary to take students past their martial arts practice and benefit them in their higher education. The pennants on the walls of Sky Martial Arts represent students whose training helped them get into the universities.
Sky Martial Arts is connected with USA Taekwondo, the governing body of taekwondo for the U.S. Olympic Committee, Yoon said.
“What we offer our students is something that is recognized throughout the nation, throughout the world, that they can compete in,” he said.
Although Sky Martial Arts is largely about giving students the tools they need to succeed – including leadership skills unlocked from activities such as speaking in front of an audience and mentorship – programs are designed for all ages, ranging from 4- to 6-year-old “Lil Hawks” to seniors. Yoon said the oldest student at Sky Martial Arts is 72.
“When (he’s) doing taekwondo at 72, what we’re mostly focused on is his balance, making sure he’s not falling,” Yoon said. “Even if they do fall, we want them to fall safely. … And then for our youngest, we want them to get used to motions that most people would not be used to. For example, if you want to be a pitcher, in order to have full range of motion, you need to get that motion when you’re young.”
Yoon, a San Francisco State University graduate, has over 20 years of competion and teaching experience. But he won’t be taking on the studio alone – he’ll be joined by his father, Jun Yoon, a Seoul-born martial arts world champion who took to international coaching after massive success in Korea. The elder Yoon has been in the Bay Area for the past 25 years, making an impact on California kids at the East Bay location in Dublin.
Yoon’s brother Andrew, a U.S. national champion and UC Berkeley alumnus, also helps run the family business.
“We were born into this taekwondo family,” Yoon said. “That’s how I started.”
Sky Martial Arts extends beyond Yoon DNA; former competitor Justin Lim also teaches.
“We focus on precision, so our instructors are National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified,” Yoon said. “We take a scientific approach to what we do and find the best way to do it.”
Yoon has been a member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos for a year. The connections he’s made through the organization have already paid dividends: Fellow Rotarians let him know about the empty downtown storefront shortly after Kids Only closed. Yoon moved in approximately three weeks later.
“The Rotary Club has been helping me very extensively, in terms of supporting me and giving me guidance on where to look, where to go, who to talk to,” the taekwondo master said. “It’s been a big help.”
For more information on Sky Martial Arts and its other locations, visit skymartialarts.com.
Stay tuned for the Town Crier’s coverage of Sky Martial Arts’ Los Altos ribbon cutting, tentatively scheduled before the grand opening in January, according to the city’s economic development coordinator, Anthony Carnesecca.