Master Doug Fuechsel of Carbondale has plans to take taekwondo to the masses
Doug Fuechsel has visions of sharing his passion for taekwondo with the masses, one strategic kick and well-placed palm to the throat at a time.
The Carbondale resident, better known as Master Fuechsel, earned his black belt in the martial art 45 years ago after extensive studies in South Korea and training in the United States. He dropped out of college after one year to study taekwondo after being inspired by the Bruce Lee movie “Enter the Dragon.”
To say he loves the discipline is an understatement. He has taught it full-time since 1976 and in the Roaring Fork Valley since moving here in 1992. He is currently president of the U.S. Taekwondo Committee.
Master Fuechsel, 65, is thinking big on how to inspire more people to take up the martial art.
“I’m a teacher. That’s my destiny,” he said recently during a break at an Aspen gym. “I have understood my destiny. I help others understand their destiny. Kicking and punching is the fun part.”
Taekwondo is perfect for kids taking on bullies on the playground, women defending themselves, senior citizens avoiding exploitation and virtually anybody needing protection.
“We’re trying to equip people with skills,” Fuechsel said. “When fear has a chokehold on you, you can’t do anything.”
To reach a broader audience, Fuechsel plans to make a series of instructional videos available online to subscribers. Each episode will feature different actions and skills involved in taekwondo.
He initially had masters flying from Korea to Aspen to start filming May 10. COVID-19 delivered a knock out blow to that plan.
Now, he’s working with masters Johnny and Michelle Kang from San Francisco on the video series. They started rehearsing Sept. 17 at Jean-Robert’s Gym in Aspen before filming through the weekend.
They will produce 12 episodes of Warrior Taekwondo and 12 episodes of Senior Taekwondo, which utilizes walking sticks and every tool available — “biting, eye gouging, all that stuff,” Fuechsel said. “We’re using a lot more weaponry in Senior Taekwondo to give them an advantage against an attack.”
Fuechsel and the Kangs demonstrate the various moves in the instruction videos.
Carbondale resident and Fuechsel student Bob Griffiths is directing. Colorado Audio Visual and Design is undertaking the production.
While rehearsing Sept. 17 in a studio in the gym, Johnny Kang held a thick brick that represented an attacker. “Throat” is written prominently on the concrete.
Fuechsel demonstrated how to sidestep the would-be attacker, then moved into position to deliver a blow with the meat of his palm to the attacker’s throat.
After the first take, Griffiths suggested Fuechsel put a little more emotion into it. On the next take, Fuechsel delivers a hair-raising scream as he pretends to deliver the blow.
“Now that’s drama,” Griffiths responded.
Fuechsel and the Kangs are drawing on their years of experience as instructors to create the instructional clips. There is no detailed script to be followed, just notes the master practitioners have jotted down.
“The content is all coming out of their heads,” Griffiths said.
During a break, Fuechsel said he is confident they can reach “tens of thousands” of people interested in taekwondo — from newcomers to people knocking off rust or advancing their skills. He noted that there are more than estimated 10 million people in the U.S. who have studied taekwondo.
“We’re about restoring love to taekwondo,” he said.
New students start as white belts. They gain confidence and physical strength.
“By the time you’re a red belt, the chains holding you back are gone, the chains of fear and doubt,” he said. “Fear is what limits us. It keeps you from your potential.”
Studying taekwondo can change that and provide benefits for all walks of life, he said.
“Now you’re set free,” Fuechsel said.
They have hired an advertising agency to help get word out about the taekwondo series. The videos will be available Oct. 15 at http://www.warriorUSA.net.
“We’re going big time on this,” Fuechsel said.
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