Tae kwon do members shine at Sunflower State Games
Rex Hutton's tae kwon do students didn't just win at the recent Sunflower State Games -- they excelled.
Hutton's students won gold medals in 13 events and silver medals in five events.
Hutton and his wife, Rita, own and operate Tonganoxie Martial Arts, 801 E. Fourth, which has about 25 students.
"I feel real good about it because we're from a small town and we did so well," Hutton said.
To commemorate his students' success at the tournament, Hutton invited Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor to be photographed with his students.
Two of the tae kwon do students who participated in the Sunflower State Games -- Jess Breshears, 14, and Colten Weaver, 7 -- have attended Hutton's classes since he opened his school four years ago.
Jess last month earned his black belt. And Colten, who has participated in more tournaments than he can remember, came home as usual -- undefeated.
Jess is the son of Mike Breshears and Lisa Monshower. Colten is the son of Rhonda and Kirk McHenry and Braden Weaver.
Both boys, though successful in tae kwon do, are humble about their accomplishments. And, both are quick to credit Rex Hutton.
"Rex has been the greatest of instructors to me," Jess said. "Rex is patriotic, he teaches us to love our family and our mother and father, and just to be courageous in the community. He says not to demand respect, but to earn it and be a loving person."
Tae kwon do has changed his own life, Jess said.
"I used to be kind of scared to go out into the world, and once I got into tae kwon do, I just became open to the world, and now here I am, being a black belt."
Being in tae kwon do has helped Jess through rough times, he said.
During his second year in the program his grades in school dropped. But the following year, with encouragement from his mother and father, he brought his grades up.
"The third quarter of my eighth-grade year I made honor roll," Jess said. "I stuck with it."
And, at the beginning of this year, Jess said he made a goal to achieve his black belt, which he now has done.
It's an understatement to say that was a challenge.
"I had to break a two-inch board with my foot and hand," Jess said. "I tried breaking a concrete block, but that will have to wait. It hasn't happened yet, but it will happen, hopefully."
He has scars to prove his work to get to this point.
"I've had a lot of bruises, I've had my arm broke," Jess said. "But I stuck with it and accomplished something very great."
Jess described Rex as a "great teacher," a teacher who teaches his students self-defense, as well as what Jess termed as "self-betterment."
Hutton urges his students to focus on courtesy, integrity, perseverance, service and indomitable spirit.
"We go by those sayings a lot and it really helps out," Jess said."
And, Jess said, he looks up to Rex for other reasons. A former lineman, Hutton was nearly killed in two different work-related accidents.
And, Hutton is an eighth-degree black belt.
"That's about as high as you can get," Jess said.
Colten, who started in tae kwon do when he was barely 4 years old, said he likes competitions, but coming to classes is what he most enjoys about tae kwon do.
And, even at his age, he appreciates how Hutton watches out for his students -- both in and out of tae kwon do lessons.
"When I was in kindergarten, he would come down to school to check on me once in a while," Colten said. "And he asks about grades and tells you about being good in school and not fighting and being respectful."
Colten's grandmother, Sharon Hughes, agreed.
"Rex is wonderful for all the kids," Hughes said, noting that the class fee of $50 a month allows students to participate five evenings a week. "He does it for love, not for money, that's for sure."