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April 11, 2009
News Press - news-press.com - Fort Myers, FL
By CHRISTINA CEPERO
In 1981, Patricia Cole, a single mother of two, was beaten unconscious by her boyfriend.
"I didn't know anything about self-defense at the time ... and was really scared and humiliated and almost killed," Cole said. "I decided that would never happen again."
She joined her 5-year-old daughter, Tiffany, and 4-year-old son, Jason, in Tae Kwon Do.
A self-proclaimed klutz, Cole needed extra training with Grand Master B.C. Yu, now an eighth-degree black belt, in Ann Arbor, Mich.
After toiling at the martial art day in and day out, in 1993 Cole earned her black belt and in 2003 achieved the rank of fifth-degree black belt.
"I am stronger than I thought I was," she said.
She ran her own 250-student school in Hooksett, N.H., for seven years before moving to Bonita Springs in 2005 to be near the sun and her son and his wife.
Cole, 55, began teaching at the Bonita Springs YMCA shortly after. On Nov. 1, she opened Cole Martial Arts at the Shoppes at Hawthorne on Old 41 Road. She teaches Tae Kwon Do, cardio kickboxing and self-defense.
At her studio, she empowers a woman who was in an abusive relationship, a boy who was abused by his stepfather, a man who has battled depression, a man who has fought brain tumors, and children dealing with mental and physical disabilities.
"I love the fact that she helps people," said Cole's son, Jason Koschalk, 32, who helped her build the 1,500-square-foot Bonita Springs studio. "She has the biggest heart."
Cole feels the need to share what she knows.
"What good is all that knowledge if you're just going to keep it to yourself?" she said. "It may save someone's life."
Cole believes her attack happened on purpose. "Sometimes the worst thing in your life can end up being a blessing."
Fulfilling her life purpose
At home, she's Grammy or Mom. At work, she's Pat. She wears skirts and heels and speaks in a honey-sweet voice as an executive assistant at Legatus, an organization for Catholic business leaders.
At her studio, she's Master Cole. She teaches in her black Tae Kwon Do uniform and bare feet, giving firm commands and grunting with kicks or punches.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Cole rises at 4:30 to teach 5:15 cardio kickboxing classes, drives 30 miles to Ave Maria, works a full day and drives back to teach her night Tae Kwon Do classes.
She teaches Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, too.
"I love this. This is my passion," Cole said. "It's just in my blood. It's what I need to be doing in my life."
Kris Whipple, whose 12-year-old daughter, Kaley, is learning Tae Kwon Do, said Cole is a role model for both of them. "It's quite something how she manages to keep so energized and positive through the day," Whipple said.
Cole craves the exercise, the discipline, the challenge. "It helps you to become your personal best both inside and out, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually."
Her black belt with five stripes carries a mystique. She is one of few women who has achieved that level of expertise. Grand Master Yu estimates there are 24 in the nation.
Her 12-year-old grandson, Anthony Koschalk, thinks it's awesome that his grandma is a fifth-degree black belt. "She worked really hard for it," said Anthony, who moved to Bonita Springs in August.
"Everybody respects her," said Denise Marchesseault, whose 11-year-old grandson, Hunter Marchesseault, is learning Tae Kwon Do.
"She's strict, but she's nice, too," said 11 1/2-year-old Tae Kwon Do student Nicholas LaCorte.
"She's able to show that a woman can be tough also," said Noelle Cancel, mother of 8-year-old Victoria, who takes Tae Kwon Do. "I like that for my daughter to see what a strong woman looks like."
Tae Kwon Do is more than kicking bags and punching targets. Cole teaches the children to respect their loved ones at home and their teachers and peers at school.
She starts classes by reinforcing the five tenets of Tae Kwon Do: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Then she goes over the student creed's three ways to build self-confidence: knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart and strength in the body.
Cole teaches her students to stand tall and maintain eye contact to avoid being targets. She urges them to walk away and avoid fighting if they can. But if they are attacked, they can protect and defend themselves.
"When you're attacked, you cannot think," she said. "But your muscle memory will remember."
Noelle Cancel has noticed that Cole communicates well with children. "She's very, very patient," Cancel said. "She's able to explain things to children. If they don't understand, she's able to break it down and show them how to do it."
Cole is also effective teaching adults.
Naples resident Elizabeth Worthington, 41, cardio kickboxes to high-energy techno with Cole five days a week. "We let all of our frustrations out, I guess you could say. She has taught us a lot of self-defense moves and what to do in certain circumstances," she said. "It's definitely made me get into shape."
Bonita Springs resident Ed Berg, 54, said training with Cole and the other students benefits him outside of the school, too.
"When I take a class, I feel a lot more motivated the next day at work. I have more energy," he said. "She's a wonderful teacher. ... She cares about people."
Kaley Whipple, 12, has noticed that doing Tae Kwon Do has enhanced her other activities. She's brought a sharper focus to test-taking at school. She's built greater self-confidence when performing in musicals. "She just helps motivate you so much," Kaley said of Cole.
Blake Gardner, 13, was Cole's first and only student when she started teaching Tae Kwon Do at the Y almost three years ago. A month later, his father, Jerome, joined. Now, his mother, Theresa, 43, and brother, Benjamin, 22, are learning the art.
Jerome, 45, whom Cole just promoted to instructor, credits Cole with helping him overcome clumsiness and lack of flexibility.
"When I started, I couldn't do a sidekick past the knee. Now I can do one over my head," he said. "She's not real militant. She's more of an encourager. And when she sees you can't do something, she helps you work it out. ... She really works with you one on one until you reach your goals."
Cole emulates Grand Master Yu as much as possible. An affiliate of his, her school teaches the Korean martial art in the traditional style of the International Tae Kwon Do Federation.
"I have not changed the curriculum much," she said. "It worked."
She uses Korean commands. "We kind of like to keep as much of the tradition alive as we can," she said.
Cole has about 50 students ages 4 to late 60s and seeks to add more to her "dojang," which is Korean for "studio." She would like to offer other classes such as yoga and Pilates.
She continues to expand her mastery of Tae Kwon Do when she trains with Grand Master Yu and her students.
"We all learn from each other," Cole said. "I still have a lot of learning to do."
master pat cole
Cole Martial Arts
A fifth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and owner of Cole Martial Arts in Bonita Springs
- Age: 55
- Birthplace and hometown: Toledo, Ohio.
- Places she's lived: Ann Arbor, Mich., and Hooksett, N.H.
- Residence: Bonita Springs.
- Family: Son, Jason Koschalk, 32, and his wife, Susan; daughter, Tiffany Thompkins, 33; and grandson, Anthony Koschalk, 12.
- Dog: Husky named Zena.
- Hobbies other than Tae Kwon Do: Going to the beach, going to blues, jazz and rock 'n roll concerts (she used to play classical piano and guitar), traveling (she would love to train in Korea, the birthplace of Tae Kwon Do).
- Favorite books: Motivational and inspirational books, especially by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer.
- Classes: Tae Kwon Do ($60/month), cardio kickboxing ($35/month). First class is free. Master Cole will offer free classes from 12 to 3 p.m. on Sundays in May (12-1 cardio kickboxing, 1-2 Tae Kwon Do and 2-3 self-defense).
Grand Master B.C. Yu of Ann Arbor, Mich., will give a seminar in June for area martial artists.
- Location: Shoppes at Hawthorne at 26455 Old 41 Road, Unit 13-1, Bonita Springs.
- Phone: 495-7724.
- Mobile: 273-2404.
- e-mail: Pat032254@aol.com
- Web site: colemartialarts.com