Whether you want to throw a couple punches, learn self-defense, or practice the power of courtesy, JSK Taekwondo — an energetic, family owned and operated taekwondo studio located in the heart of Downtown Phoenix — welcomes all to learn this Korean sport.

“There is nothing else. Taekwondo and this studio is our life. We don’t have any outside jobs, this is what we do,” said Joe Karstadt, owner, and founder of JSK Taekwondo.

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Their start was humble. Joe Karstadt and his family began teaching taekwondo out of a dance studio called Bricks Studio. According to Joe Karstadt, after six months, the owner kindly kicked them out. 

“The owner of the dance studio said, ‘I need you guys to find a new location, there’s more white uniforms than tutus running around here,’” Joe Karstadt said.

With only two classes a week in the studio, students immediately took to the program. They began to teach classes out of their garage to increase class time and connections within their community. 

“We matted our garage, and opened it up for private lessons, and every once in a while, there would be a group of three or four students who would come see us after school,” Joe Karstadt said.

Family is what truly sets this studio apart from others. There are five children in the Karstadt clan, Josh (22), Elliot (12), Max (11), Isabella (9), and Octavia (2), each one playing their own role to help bring the business to life. Josh Kartstadt is now a full-time instructor. 

“I teach on the weekdays and weekends. I do a lot of after school programs and private lessons,” Josh Kartstadt said. 

People think that taekwondo is just one style of martial art, but there are many things to gain from it. 

“I teach self-defense to women and sparing to the older teens that compete in world championships. Also, just kids who need to learn how to be courteous and respectful to their parents,” Josh Kartstadt said. “I do everything from that, to taking the trash out of the bathroom.”

Karis Norris,15, has been a student with JSK Taekwondo for five years. She loves taekwondo and believes anyone can do it. 

  “I think it’s important because we have the five tenets of taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit,” said Norris. “It’s important to practice those throughout your life because they help you build healthy relationships with people outside of taekwondo.”

For Joe Kartstadt, seeing his students’ hard-work and dedication payoff is the biggest reward. 

“When you see somebody that’s been with you since they were seven years old and they are 16 now and they go and win, even if it’s not as big as a world championship, and you see the look on their face when they did their best and fought their heart out, it’s huge.” 

JSK Taekwondo prides itself on their students’ consistency and willing determination. 

“Some schools give martial arts a bad reputation, like you can buy your way through belts and just kind of go through a factory that way,” Joe Kartstadt said. “We really try to make sure our students are held accountable for what they’re doing and what they know.”

Ultimately, the goal for Joe Karstadt and JSK Taekwondo is to “grow and spread out.”

“If I had to base it off right now, there would be a school for Josh and a school for Maxx and we would just keep spreading that way,” Joe Karstadt said.