When he was just four-years old, Tyler Osika frequently accompanied his grandpa, Bill Harbin, when he visited a friend who owned a Tae Kwon Do studio. Watching the people sparring sparked an interest in the martial art for Tyler.
When Grandpa asked if he'd like to take lessons, Tyler gave an enthusiastic, yes. In October, after four years, the 8-year-old Tyler received his first degree Black Belt.
Tae Kwon Do is a martial art that has been independently developed over about 20 centuries in Korea according to Internet sources. It promotes health, fitness, well being and self defense. In 1994, the International Olympic Committee admitted Tae Kwon Do as an official event of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The main feature of Tae Kwon Do is that it is a free-fighting combat sport using bare hands and feet to repel an opponent.
Tyler Osika attended sessions twice a week to advance through the 19 levels required to reach his goal. "He almost never missed a lesson," Tyler's grandma, Esther Harbin, said. "Even through the holidays. Sometimes he went three times in a week."
"Tae Kwon Do taught him discipline and control," Grandma Harbin continued. "It builds self confidence. It teaches manners and respect in general, especially for older people."
Tyler said he was taught that he is never to use any of the physical exercises he learned on kids with whom he might be playing. He is never to use Tae Kwon Do against anyone unless he is in real danger.
When asked what he would do if a bully bothered or threatened him, Tyler said he would firmly tell the bully to "Stay away". Questioned about what he would do if the bully persisted, Tyler said he would say, "Stay back. Leave me alone," while taking a stance of self defense.
Showing the stance, Tyler had his legs spread apart, one foot advanced slightly ahead of the other. One hand, with fingers extended upward, palm out, was close to his chest. The other hand was positioned the same but with his arm stretched out in front of him.
Tyler never tires of the sport.
"I like it because you can learn a lot of cool moves and it's really fun," he said.
Tyler likes the weaponry and the kicks. His favorite weapon is nunchaku, two sticks connected by rope.
He can break a board with his hands or feet. The specially made board is designed to reduce the chance of injury but still takes trained skill to execute the procedure safely.
Tyler, the son of Don and Teresa Osika of Brazil, has received nine trophies from Tae Kwon Do tournaments.
A proud Grandpa Harbin said, "Receiving his first degree Black Belt was an accomplishment Tyler made only through personal sacrifice and effort."