Truckee martial arts expert tirelessly teaches Tang Soo Do techniques
Special to the Sun
Who: Justin “Bodi” Loughner
What: Truckee Tang Soo Do
Address: 10975 Pioneer Trail, Ste. 2
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Tumbling around on a floor mat with his giggling three-year-old daughter, Justin “Bodi” Loughner doesn’t bear the quintessential image of a tough guy.
Armed with a gregarious and light-hearted charm, Loughner is like a modern day crouching tiger, hidden dragon who’s capable of inflicting the kind of strength and force of a black belt sensei.
That said, Loughner’s martial arts practice, which spans over the course of nearly 30 years, packs more of a philosophical punch than any violent fist-of-fury counterpart.
“Studying martial arts is a state of mind and it’s a lifelong endeavor,” Loughner said. “It’s about using the discipline and confidence from practicing self-defense in ways that will make you a better person not just in class, but in the world around you.”
As owner and chief instructor of Truckee Tang Soo Do, Loughner brings a breadth of experience under his second-degree black belt, which has yielded him the overall strength, health and balance of a true karate kid.
Growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska, Loughner was dealt with some heavy life lessons early on, having lost both of his parents when he was only 15.
“My family got me into karate when I was 9, and I was tested for my first black belt by the time I was 14, so I had that foundation and understanding of the flow of energy and being in harmony with your surroundings,” Loughner said.
That tragic turn of events inevitably altered the flow of Loughner’s life, after which he found himself washed up on mainland soil under the care of his grandparents and extended family in the suburbs outside of Pittsburgh.
“That was not an easy time, that’s for sure, but the practice and teachings (of martial arts) was what kept me going,” he said.
Although Loughner found great success in other athletic pursuits, his commitment to martial arts – namely Tang Soo Do – had taken root, instilling a powerful physical and spiritual backbone that would continue to drive Loughner’s overall success in the years to come.
“Growing up with Tang Soo Do and karate helped me become a better athlete all around by improving my balance, focus, hand-eye coordination and concentration,” Loughner said. “That in turn helped me play Division 1 football and Division 1 rugby, and it made me better in things like skiing, surfing and climbing by teaching me how to set goals and complete them.”
ENTER THE DRAGON
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Loughner retraced his steps back west, although not quite as far west as Alaska.
“I moved here looking to spend a couple of years enjoying all that Tahoe has to offer, but Tang Soo Do was always in the back of my mind,” Loughner said. “After a two year break, I started training with Master Tim Schroeder in Tahoe City and I haven’t looked back since.”
Under the direction of the Tahoe City-based chiropractor and Tang Soo Do Master Dr. Tim Schroeder, Loughner earned his instructor certification through the World Tang Soo Do Association, which was founded by Loughner’s biggest influence in the world of martial arts: Tang Soo Do Grandmaster Jae C. Shin.
“He tested me for my first black belt when I was 14, which was 25 years ago, and he was also Chuck Norris’ first teacher when Chuck was stationed in South Korean during the Korean War, which, I think, is pretty cool,” Loughner said.
As a member and chief instructor with the World Tang Soo Do Association, Loughner is connected to more than 2,000 years’ worth of martial arts history, culture, teaching methods and practices, and expanding through approximately 40 countries around the globe.
“Every technique and command we use is in Korean, so I could literally go anywhere in the world and teach a class because even if we don’t speak the same native language, we can still communicate through Korean,” Loughner said. “For me, that global connection is really powerful.”
‘WE ARE ALL HUMAN’
With a handful of years teaching Tang Soo Do in Tahoe City, and in pursuit of adding a third-degree Dan ranking to the notches of his black belt, Loughner kicked his pursuit of teaching into high gear with the launch of Truckee Tang Soo Do in 2013.
Located off Pioneer Drive, Truckee Tang Soo Do falls under the umbrella of the Charles Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, and offers a bevy of disciplines such as Pan-Am Tang Soo Do, Aikido, Muay Thai, Bando, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
This fall, Loughner also hopes to add a self-defense course – designed largely for women – to the class schedule.
“There’s the ranking of master, but at the same time, there’s the philosophy that we are all human and we’re never perfect, so there’s always room for practice and growth,” Loughner said. “It takes a long time to learn certain techniques, and once you’ve learned them, you wind up going back to the basics again because just like the circle of life, every form always comes back around to the beginning.”
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.