Founded on Discipline
By Andrew Edwards (9/04/2005)
Julian Marquez doesn't need a joystick to unleash a punch or a kick. His karate skills aren't tied to a game console and TV screen.
The 12-year-old Costa Mesa resident is a student in the Costa
Mesa-based Walking Tall Foundation. The foundation was formed in 1993 by sixth-degree black belt Joaquin Sahagun as a nonprofit to teach karate to children at a reduced cost. "It's fun. It's hard and fun at the same time. They push you," Julian said.
Initially, Sahagun wanted to offer instruction at no cost, but he
later realized kids would show more dedication if their families had to pay a fee. The program's fee structure starts at $50 a month, but actual payments can be adjusted along a sliding scale, said instructor Gina Sahagun, who is married to Joaquin.
"We work with each individual family," she said. "A single woman trying to raise her kids, they get first priority for a full
The program does not receive direct government aid, Gina Sahagun said. Walking Tall is financed by fundraisers like Costa Mesa's fireworks sales program, and Joaquin Sahagun said he is planning to raise funds through karate tournaments in case fireworks are ever banned in the city.
Julian has been in the program for about eight months and at a
recent practice, demonstrated what he called an iron-body set. The set is a series of moves where the young student performed a variety of somersaults, tumbles and butterfly kicks. When he executed a butterfly kick, Julian leapt to the air, tilted his head and body forward and spun both legs behind him.
Instructor Philip Sahagun, Joaquin's son, teaches Walking Tall
students and looked on as Julian demonstrated his skills. The
tumbling techniques are essential to the series that Julian