Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Martial arts school teaches much more than self-defense

Family of the Phoenix helps students gain self-confidence
Jul 28, 2017
Photo by: Submitted The Family of the Phoenix Martial Arts School has been teaching its students the importance of self control, integrity and perseverance for a decade. Above, one student, Kaelen Wiegand, took those tenants, as well as some of the moves she’s picked up in taekwondo to the Iowa Games this month. Wiegand received second in taekwondo forms and brought home the gold in sparring.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


The pride Lorenzo Orpiez feels for his students is undeniable.

The white-haired black belt becomes almost giddy as he talks about his taekwondo students’ accomplishments, including a recent trip to the Iowa Games.

Sitting across a table from his son, Ricardo, the two debate how long their school — Family of the Phoenix Martial Arts — has been open.

“Eight years,” Lorenzo insists.

Ricardo shakes his head smiling. “I knew you were going to say that,” he said to his father. “March was the 10th year.”

“Wow, we already have 10 years,” Lorenzo said in amazement.

I guess the saying, “time flies when you’re having fun” is true for the Orpiez family.

Lorenzo began teaching taekwondo in Mt. Pleasant a decade ago under the name Heaven and Earth Taekwondo, which also had a facility in Burlington. A few years after opening, the Orpiez’s cut ties with the Burlington facility and changed the name to the school’s current moniker.

Lorenzo took up taekwondo at the urging of his son, Joshua. “I started at 47 doing this,” said Lorenzo. “My son (Joshua) was doing taekwondo and he encouraged me. He said, ‘Dad, you need this.’”

Lorenzo remembers telling his son that he didn’t have time for martial arts, but Joshua was insistent. “He said this was going to help me in life later on,” he recalled. “So on my 47th birthday I started. And he was right, it has helped me in my life.”

Lorenzo first became a black belt and then an instructor.

Ricardo has also seen the benefits in his life from practicing taekwondo. “I’m not an athletic person, but this gives me something to do, a form of exercise and focus,” said Ricardo. “I didn’t have a lot of self confidence in my life and it has helped me with that over time.”

That’s exactly why Lorenzo wanted to open the martial arts school.

“I want to help the kids, help teenagers and help adults to build up their self confidence,” he says.

The school was built on five tenants — values Ricardo and his father hope to instill in their students. “Our tenants are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit,” recites Ricardo.

“That’s what we teach by,” adds Lorenzo. “We have been successful with a lot of kids. We give them positive (reinforcement). We tell them ‘yes, you can do that.’”

Lorenzo said the school’s five tenants reach well beyond the walls of their school as they are values that will help students in their everyday life.

Lorenzo said he’s received his own positive reinforcement from area schools and administrators. “They see how different the kid is acting and how much they are applying to their school work. That’s why I do this,” he said.

This year, the Orpiez’s had one student who wanted to take their skill set to the next level. On Sunday, July 16, The Orpiez family went to Ames to cheer on their student, Kaelen Wiegand, who competed in the Iowa Games.

“It’s kind of like the Iowa Olympics,” joked Ricardo.

Wiegand competed in the taekwondo event, which includes forms and sparring. “She placed second in forms and got the gold in sparring,” exclaimed Ricardo.

“I’m very proud of her,” said Lorenzo.

Wiegand has been a student at Family of the Phoenix for three years, having joined the school after her former teacher moved away. “It was an amazing thing,” said Lorenzo of seeing his student at the Iowa Games. “There were so many people there and seeing her accomplish what she set out to do and getting out of her comfort zone.”

“She always challenges herself and she rose to the challenge,” added Ricardo.

The school has students anywhere from age six to 60. “We have a grandmother and grandson in one of our classes,” said Ricardo. “We’re very family oriented. We treat our students like family.”

“That’s why it’s called Family of the Phoenix,” interjected Lorenzo.

The school also encourages students to teach other. “As you go up in the ranks, part of your responsibility of giving back is to help teach the next generation,” said Ricardo.

“For me, it’s showing kids there is another side to the coin,” said Lorenzo.

Ricardo continues for his father. “We don’t teach them to fight. We teach you to defend yourself to the point that you can get away and get help,” he said. “When you fight, nobody wins.”

Classes are held Monday and Thursday at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., in the brick building next to Faith Christian Outreach Church in Mt. Pleasant. For more information or to register, contact Lorenzo at 319-931-0209.

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