Dojang Profile: American Dragon Korean Martial Arts by Instructor Ma
I remember my first visit to the American Dragon Korean Martial Arts Academies school in Ocoee, Florida. When you walk into a Hapkido class or workshop here, you’re in good company. The new Ocoee, Florida wellness-based gathering space is busting down intimidation barriers and pulling together bodies of all shapes and ages.
Owner Richard Hackworth is building up Hapkido school cornerstones of community, awareness, compassion, and kindness through niche classes like Hapkido for Health, Traditional Hapkido, and Hand 2 Hand Hapkido for Self Defense. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, what clothes you wear or if you can touch your toes; anyone is welcome here,” Hackworth says.
The Florida based author, martial arts instructor and life coach opened his locally owned American Dragon Korean Martial Arts school in May of 1984. This year they will open a school in Clermont, Florida marking the fourth American Dragon Korean Martial Arts brand studio in the USA. The small, welcoming space focuses on Hapkido, Taekwondo, Tai Chi, slow flow and meditation, along with community-based events that include monthly women’s self-protection workshops, weight loss challenges and Hapkido for Health workshops.
American Dragon Korean Martial Arts Academies
Hapkido, studied Hapkido, Taekwondo, and KyukKumSool Sword in Korea while serving in the US Army — a coursework trio he’s thankful to tap into daily. He began his martial arts teacher training as an intern at JaeIlJaeYookKwan, owned by Jong Song Kim, President of the Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association in ShiHungShi, South Korea and continued to become a Licensed Taekwondo Instructor, Certified Hapkido Instructor, Certified Sword and Weapons Instructor and Certified Professional Life Coach. In 2019 he traveled to Beijing, China to complete the Tai Chi Masters Course. Hackworth specializes in Yang Shen Healthy Life Tai Chi for senior’s health.
After landing in Orange County Florida by way of Korea and teaching martial arts at the Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association Headquarters in Korea for five years, Hackworth decided to take 1996 to travel and further his studies. From 1996 to 2004 he taught Instructors Courses and Seminars in countries around the world. He is highly respected by the leaders of the martial arts community and is considered one of the leading martial arts teachers of his generation.
Hackworth’s mission at the American Dragon Korean Martial Arts Academies schools is to create gathering spaces for others to share knowledge, express themselves and feel supported. His classes aim to reconnect people with their natural states of being to restore balance in their health, lifestyle, work, and relationships.
“It was really important to me to welcome in people who haven’t felt welcomed in other wellness spaces before,” he says.
While hand-selecting instructors, Hackworth will ask them to share a hardship that they’ve overcome, seeking out a certain level of vulnerability and willingness to open up about their personal journeys.
“They understand that martial arts has this deeper impact on their growth and lives and processing the things they’ve been through,” he says. “That it’s more than just moving their bodies and feeling good.” Look for American Dragon Korean Martial Arts Academies calendar to expand to offer kids fitness clubs, women’s circles and other intimate gatherings centered around community and internal growth.
25 W. Silverstar Road. Ocoee, FL 34761
About the author: Instructor Ma is a 3rd Degree Black Belt in the Korean self-defense art of Hapkido and a 2nd Dan in Traditional Taekwondo. She is a professional sports and fitness model and full time Nursing student. She is the Language, Culture and Leadership Development Teacher for the American Dragon Korean Martial Arts Academies and can be reached at www.AmericanDragonKoreanMartialArts.com