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Early Koreans developed unique martial arts forms for unarmed self-defense to complement their skills with weapons. The first recorded evidence of what was to become modern Tae Kwon Do is found about two thousand years ago in Korean history. A mural painting from the Koguryu kingdom (37 B.C. to 66 A.D.) was found in a tomb believed to have been built sometime during the period 3 to 427 A.D. This mural depicts figures practicing martial arts techniques. Historical records from this Koguryu period also mention the practice of martial arts techniques and tournaments. The early forms had different names, such as Kwonbak, Bakhi, Dangsoo, Taeso, and Kongsoo. From about 600 A.D. to about 1400, the dominant form was Soobak, which further evolved into Taekyon beginning in the late 1300s. Taekyon was the dominant Korean martial art form until the Japanese invasion and occupation of Korea in 1909. From 1909 to 1945, the Japanese suppressed Korean culture and martial arts and introduced Japanese culture and martial arts.


The modern period of Tae Kwon Do began with the defeat of the Japanese and the liberation of Korea in 1945. Korean martial arts masters wanted to eliminate Japanese influences. They began discussions on how to return to the traditional Taekyon based Korean martial arts and on how to unite the various martial arts schools (or Kwans) and styles into a single style and national sport. After several years of discussions, the name "Tae Kwon Do" was chosen in April 1955 by the board of masters of the various Kwans, and the kwans started to unify through the late 1950's. The spread of Tae Kwon Do as a martial art and competitive sport continues to this date. Today Tae Kwon Do is by far the most widely practiced martial art in the world.


Started by Grandmaster Thursh, White Tiger has served the Champaign-Urbana and surrounding areas for over 30 years. White Tiger trains in the realm of traditional martial arts, with a dedication to discipline, strength of mind and body, and balance in all aspects of life. The academy is Taekwondo oriented but touches on fundamental Hapkido and Chin Na as well. 

When choosing a martial arts school, it is important to find core character values that match your own. We at White Tiger pride ourselves on discipline, respect, confidence, and focus. These values can be carried throughout life and we believe should be at the center of any Taekwondo school's mission. The school should be a place that you and your children feel safe, comfortable, and connected to. At White Tiger you can rest assured that our values meet yours. 

White Tiger is a Kukkiwon affiliated academy. Throughout the world there are many different organizations charged with operating Taekwondo schools and businesses. There are two that set the standard internationally. The World Taekwondo Federation and Kukkiwon regulate Taekwondo as a whole. Kukkiwon is a department of the South Korean government that internationally certifies Black Belts - 1st Dan and above. All world class and Olympic events and competitions require a Kukkiwon certified Black Belt certificate. All certificates obtained through Kukkiwon are recognized world-wide and are kept on record indefinitely. Once a member achieves black belt status, their rank will be recognized and respected world-wide.  

We are registered through Kukkiwon, the Korean body for martial arts certification.


Grandmaster Louis Thursh began studying martial arts at the age of 17. The first style he was introduced to was an eclectic style composed mainly of Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, and Jeet Kun Do. Within the style, he studied many weapon forms: including sai, nunchakus, staff, and sword. After many years he decided to focus and gain certified rank in a pure martial arts style and found the kicking techniques and combat strategies of Tae Kwon Do very appealing. Grandmaster began studying with various masters of Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido in the early 80’s and has been practicing and progressing ever since.

Master Thursh has been teaching Tae Kwon Do for around 40 years, the last 30 of those years in his own academy. He currently holds an eighth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do under Master Chung, third-degree Kukkiwon, as well as Master rank in Hapkido. Additionally, he has a significant background in the Chinese art of Chin Na (the art of catching and locking) in the style promoted by Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming.

Grandmaster Thrush’s educational background includes an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and training in Legal Sciences.

Master Louis demonstrates a seven brick palm break. We challenge our students to build confidence and strength.

Kalika Shapiro began studying martial arts ten years ago, at 13. She began working under Grandmaster Thursh at 16, as an assistant instructor and has continued to advance for the last 7 years. She has since become the head instructor and runs all client communications and scheduling. She holds rank as a Third Degree Kukkiwon Certified Black Belt. Her interest is in weapons training and enjoys working with young kids. She holds certification in Early Childhood Education and is currently in school for personal training. 

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