True Balance Karate is family-owned, part of a greater World Tang Soo Do Association family, and eager to welcome new students into the TBK family that has been part of our Downers Grove community since 2012.
The staff understands each student’s journey to black belt is unique, and they’ll help you find the balance to meet your challenges and achieve your goals—and have fun doing it!
Meet Master Helsdon
Master Paul Helsdon, co-owner and head instructor, began his Tang Soo Do martial arts training in 1997, testing for his first degree black belt in 2005. He subsequently earned his second degree black belt in 2008, third degree black belt in 2011, and was awarded his fourth degree master belt in 2018.
Master Helsdon is a World Tang Soo Do Association certified instructor, as well as a certified judge. He has trained in several other martial arts including Hapkido, Shotokan Karate, and Kung Fu, and is proficient in many martial arts weapons including staff, sword, short sticks, knife, and rope.
A life-long learner, he continues to train with masters from all over the world. This unique experience, as well as his positive energy and extensive martial arts knowledge—and enjoyment sharing both—helps him keep students of all ages engaged and interested in a variety of lessons.
Meet Master H
Master Susan Helsdon, co-owner and head of curriculum development, began her martial arts training in Tang Soo Do in 2000, testing for her first degree black belt in 2007. She then earned her second degree black belt in 2009, third degree black belt in 2012, and was awarded fourth degree master in 2019.
To help differentiate from her husband, students refer to her as Master H, following the tradition of instructors Masters I (Masters Holly and Michael Inoshita of Elmhurst Tang Soo Do) and Master J (Master Dan Jansa of Eagle Academy).
Master H is a certified instructor with the World Tang Soo Do Association and a certified judge. Along with Tang Soo Do, she also has trained in Shotokan Karate, Kung Fu, and Qi Gong. Her teaching experience comes directly from the classroom: she was previously a certified special education teacher at the primary and intermediate grades and holds two master’s degrees in education.
Educating and inspiring students continues to be her passion, and she regularly applies her classroom experience both to the training floor and also in the after-school program through engaging lessons, thoughtful questions, and positive instruction.
Master Helsdon and Master H are sometimes joined by assistant instructors, including first, second, and third-degree black belts who train and compete together. Several have trained and earned their black belts at TBK, including the masters’ daughter, who earned her black belt in 2018!
What do we actually do in karate?
Don’t let movies fool you: karate is not about “no mercy” or vicious attacks.
In fact, karate practitioners are usually the people least interested in hurting someone! We believe in safety and common sense, and are happier diffusing a situation than escalating to violence.
Still, we all need to be prepared in case we need to defend ourselves. Practicing karate allows us to build our self-defense skills so they become second-nature.
Everyone’s journey to black belt is different and driven by personal goals. Students begin at all different ages, from 3-years-old to well into their 70s—and everywhere in between.
Some are interested in improving their ability to focus and listen to instruction, while others are more concerned with fitness or confidence.
Some students (especially youth) may achieve fancy, high spin kicks, while others (the more senior) may learn to protect themselves with strong, strategic low kicks.
Some will find karate techniques come naturally, and others will require more practice. If they’re committed and don’t give up, all students have the opportunity to earn a black belt!
Tang Soo Do or Tae Kwon Do?
In 1945, after the Japanese occupation of Korea, Tang Soo Do was the most popular term for the ancient form of Korean martial arts. But in an effort to celebrate Korean nationalism and avoid confusion with the Chinese Tang Dynasty, the Korean government sponsored a new name for Korean martial arts: Tae Kwon Do.
Many Tae Kwon Do instructors did not maintain the traditional values and instead converted the Korean martial arts into an internationally-recognized sport.
The World Tang Soo Do Association has its own unique character and continues to preserve the heritage and value of Tang Soo Do as a traditional way or path, spanning more than 2,000 years.
Tang Soo Do not only teaches physical techniques but also trains students to practice the “Do” way of life, focusing on respect, discipline, self control, self improvement, etiquette, and ultimately living a healthy and harmonious life, physically and mentally.
So… what’s it like taking classes at TBK?
Great family-centered school
TBK is a great family-centered school. Owners live in the community and provide a wonderful mix of instruction and support. My daughter has been studying under them for five years and started when she was 9. Many students start with no karate knowledge whatsoever and all are able to learn at their own pace.
Options for both adults and seniors
TBK has great physical activity options for both adults and seniors. No matter what your background in martial arts (if any), you’ll find their approach founded in the best learning principles: comprehensive lesson planning, demonstration, repetition, feedback, patience, encouragement, and fun.
Instructors who truly care
My daughter has attended classes at TBK regularly for the past 5 years and loves it! The owners are the instructors who truly care about each and every one of their students. The owners instruct every class in a positive and motivating manner. Everyone learns and everyone has fun!
I cannot say enough
Within a couple of weeks we noticed our daughter was more respectful, better focused, and more confident. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the instructors and positive family atmosphere here!
Join the fun at True Balance Karate!
Find the program perfect for you or your child!