Fourth-degree black belt Carl Wright reminds his students whining is not permitted in class with signs posted throughout the studio. Rather than whining, Carl Wright wants his students to develop discipline and self control.
“I’m teaching others how to control their anger. The key is to help them understand they don’t have to be violent, they can discipline themselves. Every little thing someone says to you shouldn’t hurt you- that’s one of the things I work on and continue to work on,” Wright said
Wright, owner of Camden Taekwondo, 2502 Broad St. in Camden’s Dusty Bend district, has been teaching for 28 years. He started practicing martial arts while he was a teenager.
“Carl’s mom passed away when he was 16. His sisters raised him and he had to change and had to stop being undisciplined. He knew martial arts would help him a lot in that way,” Carl’s wife, Patricia, said.
“I had a discipline problem and I always heard that martial arts helped with that, so I gave it a try,” Carl said, agreeing. “I noticed it eased my mind, that’s when I decide to teach it.”
The Camden native started his business after his martial arts instructor approached him about doing so.
“I started in 1986. Master Wilson, my instructor, told me he was planning on closing down and asked if I was interested in opening (the studio). I opened one up at the Barbara James Dance School and I stayed there for 13 years until I moved out and got a building of my own,” he said.
Patricia also owns her own business as a Social Security consultant. She said while they are both retired they still like to remain active.
“Carl worked at DuPont and retired about 10 years ago. This is sort of like a hobby; it keeps us active, helps us to give back to the community,” Patricia said.
Giving back to the community is also important to the Wrights. Carl worked as a substitute teacher at Camden High School (CHS) and coached softball.
“I also coached softball (at the Kershaw County Recreation Center) for 18 years. I started when my daughter was 5. I started coaching them because my daughter was on the team and the coach left so they asked me to fill in. Eighteen years later, I was still coaching,” Carl said.
While working at CHS, Carl said he reminded students to persevere through difficult times.
“I told them that they were about to get out of high school and that they had to be strong enough to understand that stuff happens and you can’t let that hold you down,” Carl said.
Carl also passed that message along to his taekwondo students.
In his studio, there are posters of hard working famous athletes to remind students that hard work pays off. Carl estimates 2,000 to 3,000 students have come through his studio since he opened.
“I’ve had a lot of kids and I’m proud of a lot of them. Sometimes they come back and are now in college or have children of their own,” Carl said.
There are also numerous trophies in the studio from various competitions
“We have trophies from when kids used to compete. They would give them to me after winning. I won’t let students compete if they are not ready. I don’t want them to get hurt and discouraged because they got in a tournament and got hurt,” Carl said.
In addition to learning taekwondo, he also wants his students to realize the importance of school work.
“I put a high priority on school work. They have to show me there interim report, I need to know if and why they aren’t doing well in a particular area,” he said.
Carl has taught students as young as 4 years old.
“Some 5-years-olds can begin if they are able to concentrate, are not playful and have an attention span.” Carl said.
He said he recommends parents bring their children back when they are older if they are too young.
The Wrights have two children, both whom are black belts and started taekwondo at an early age.
“My son, Trevor, was 9 and my daughter, Erica was 5,” Carl said. “Trevor actually probably started earlier just from being in the studio with me.”
Carl hopes to continue teaching as long as he is able to.
“I still enjoy it, it can wear you down. 20 years is a long time to kick and punch at somebody,” Carl said, laughing.
He said he often gets asked how he could work with kids for so long.
“I enjoy kids, they have their problems, but I understand their problems and understand how to help.”