Free martial arts lessons teach students world class skills


Photo by Abbey Reighard

By Abbey Reighard

Two young men have been selected to put their martial arts skills to the test at a world competition – skills they mastered while attending free lessons on the Northside.

Gregory Young, a senior at Central Catholic High School, and 15-year-old Matt Mascellino will travel to Lisbon, Portugal for the 13th bi-annual Tang Soo Do Federation World Championship on July 26.

According to the Northside Child Safety Program website, Tang Soo Do translates to “way of striking defense with the worthy hand.” The Tang Soo Do program aims to teach young people discipline and respect.

Young said he started attending the Tang Soo Do sessions about two years ago. He said he enjoys the lessons and that Tang Soo Do is “a nice break from school and work.”

“I feel [Tang Soo Do] helps me to better myself,” Young said. “It teaches me self-control, and it’s fun.”

Matt, who has been taking Tang Soo Do lessons since the program started four years ago, said he thinks “it’s a good program,” with a “good instructor.”

Matt added that he is nervous and excited for the world competition.

Grand Master Chun Sik Kim came to class on Friday, May 9 at the Youth Places, 711 West Commons, to personally congratulate the two boys in their success in the program.

Grand Master Kim opened his first karate school in Pittsburgh in 1974. He now operates Tang Soo Do programs in thirteen locations in the Pittsburgh area.

In 2010 Grand Master Kim helped to create the Child Safety Program with C.S Kim, a program in which young people can come learn martial arts skills for free.

Mike Mascellino, the director of the Northside Child Safety Program and father of Matt, said it was a great honor to have Grand Master Kim come to class.

Matt and Young were picked to represent the class and compete in the international tournament in July for their “good spirits” and the enthusiasm the two boys show in class.

Grand Master Kim also presented two checks during his visit. The money Grand Master Kim presented had come from different grants and fundraising.

Grand Master Kim presented a check for $1,000 to Mascellino.

“He’s not looking for any money,” Grand Master Kim said. “He has a good heart.”

Grand Master Kim also presented a check for $3,500 to Dustin Allensworth, Tang Soo Do instructor and third-degree black belt.

Allensworth has been involved in the program since 2010 and was personally selected by Kim to lead the class. Allensworth will accompany Young and Matt to Portugal in July.

Allensworth said he is dedicated to the program because he said part of becoming a martial arts master is being able to help students succeed in martial arts.

“My belief is that to become a master you have to be able to instruct someone from a white belt to a black belt,” Allensworth said.

Allensworth comes to the Youth Places twice a week to teach classes. There are currently ten students participating in the program ranging in ages six to 18.

Of the 10 students, three have achieved green belts, three are red belts and four are blue belts. All ten students have surpassed the beginner stages and are either intermediate or higher in their martial arts skills.

Mascellino said two students, his son Matt and his 11-year-old son Masen, have recently passed their black belt tests.

Mascellino said he hopes to expand free Tang Soo Do lessons in urban public schools across the nation. Mascellino said he thinks the program helps young people to improve their focus and to keep out of trouble.

Mascellino added that he wants to stress to parents that he is available to help with the cost of uniforms and belt tests.

“Do not let money be an issue,” Mascellino said. “If I have to pay out of my own pockets, I will.”

Mascellino can be contacted at (412) 999-1777.

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