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Martial arts teacher leaves legacy in Elburn

Photo: Richard Temmerman, with Midtown Martial Arts Studio black belts. Those pictured include Evan Patel (front row, left to right), Jack Overstreet, Jeffery Walter, Dylan Padula, Kevin Gumba, Thomas Eberhardt and Luke Lonigro. Taylor Buri (middle row), Christopher Overstreet, Nicholas Grazaro, Nancy Long, Brandon Smid, Michael Burke and Matt Davis. Joah Scott (back row), Elizabeth Lonigro, Kelsey Scott, Kim Cody, Temmerman, Richard Herra, Logan Thorne and Cameron Cody. Temmerman (below) was active in the Elburn community, running a exhibition benefit for a local soldier earlier in 2011.
Top photo by Mary Herra; Bottom File Photo

Temmerman gives business to former student
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—After 17 years of operating the Midtown Martial Arts studio in Elburn, Richard Temmerman is moving to Tennessee, where his wife has been offered a job.

Temmerman said he has been so supported by the community of Elburn that he wants to make sure he is leaving the school in capable hands. For this reason, he has given—not sold—the business to long-time student and 5th Dan Black Belt Kim (Sloat) Cody, whom he said will continue the school’s commitment to his values.

“The parents of this community put their trust in me to teach their kids,” Temmerman said. “It wasn’t just a business.”

Temmerman explained that along with the basics of Tae Kwan Do and other martial arts, his goal was always to incorporate lessons in discipline, honesty and integrity into his teaching. The community of Elburn wants that kind of structure and discipline for their children, he said.

“While many parents these days are raising their children permissively, letting them do whatever they want, the parents of Elburn believe in the same old-fashioned values I do,” Temmerman said. “When you walk in the door (of my school), you follow my rules.”

Temmerman said that his method has paid big dividends in the students he has taught. Just one example of many former students who have gone on to be successful in life is Kayla Cassero. A United States Marine, 21-year-old Cassero graduated number one in her class.

Elburn resident and village trustee Jeff Walker and his wife Carrie are thrilled about what their 10-year-old son, Jeffrey, has gained from participating in Temmerman’s classes.

Carrie said that little Jeffrey is a very disciplined child.

“His room is meticulous,” she said. “And when it’s time for homework, it’s time for homework. He’s a goal-oriented child.”

Although she and her husband are involved parents in their son’s life, they give Temmerman a lot of credit for how their son is maturing.

“I feel it has helped him evolve into the person he is today,” Carrie said.

Jeff said that Temmerman’s philosophy coincides with their conservative Christian values and the background they are trying to give their children. Honesty, a sense of responsibility, and admitting one’s mistakes, taking the punishment and moving on are some of the more important ones, he said

He is also pleased to observe the self-confidence his son has developed through his classes, with the ability and courage to stand up for what is right.

In addition to teaching his students how to take care of themselves, another value Temmerman has encouraged is helping other people and giving back to the younger students.

Jeffrey has a first degree black belt, and at 10 years old, he has already learned to take care of the children littler than he is.

“He’s always watching out for them,” Carrie said.

Temmerman said that if one of his students had a black belt and didn’t want to help other people, they wouldn’t last very long at his school.

Once again, he said that value has been supported by the community of Elburn.

“They care about one another,” he said. “They are always ready to help.”

Elburn resident and Village President Dave Anderson, whose 5-year-old grandson, Conner, is in Temmerman’s class, said that Temmerman has done a great job with the children of Elburn.

“We, as parents, really and truly strive to teach our children; he just re-emphasizes that,” Anderson said.

Cody said she is excited about the opportunity she has been given to take on the school as Temmerman leaves. She has always wanted to teach, and with her love for the martial arts, she said that this situation is a perfect one for her.

Cody has been a student of Temmerman’s for 17 years, as long as the school has been open. Although she has never operated a business before, the 27-year-old said she feels confident in her abilities.

“When you start teaching at a young age, it makes you mature,” she said.

Cody has been teaching martial arts at Temmerman’s school since 2001. She said she is best at self-defense.

“We’re taught to get away from the fight,” she said. “But we know how to protect ourselves. If we have to fight, we take them down and walk away.”

She said she will keep things at the school the same as when Temmerman was in charge. She said she is grateful for everything he has done for her and all the advice he has given her over the years. Cody, who met her husband at the school, said Temmerman had given her dating advice and then marriage advice.

“He’s a second parent to all of us,” she said. “It never fails; he’s always right.”

Cody takes over the keys to the school on July 1. She said it didn’t sink in until she had to order some new uniforms. Pretty soon, she will be going to tournaments on her own.

“I’m pretty excited,” she said.