A Spar-A-Thon will be held Saturday at Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do's new location at 505 Davis Blvd., according to Leon Lamb and Jason Lynch, chief instructors/owners of Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do in Sikeston.
"We're going to try to set a world record for the most one-minute rounds in an hour," Lynch said.
To accomplish this goal, thousands of schools across around the U.S. will hold the event simultaneously. East Coast martial art schools, for example, will hold the event from 1 until 2 p.m. while the event will be held here from noon until 1 p.m.
Sparring matches here will be Olympic-style fights - continuous action without breaks to call points.
While this will be full-contact fighting like normal Olympic matches, competitors will not be going for knock-outs during the event.
Lynch said he expects they will have between five to eight pairs sparring during each one-minute round here.
"We probably won't be keeping track of points," he said.
Two trustees will be appointed to witness the event and verify the total number of rounds fought. The attempt to set a record isn't the event's main goal, however.
"We're asking parents, businesses and members of the community to sponsor students in the Spar-A-Thon," Lynch said. "The money we raise goes to the Project Action Foundation."
Lynch explained the Foundation seeks to deter gang violence and other juvenile crime.
"One of the main reasons kids join gangs is they want to belong to a group so we're trying to get them into a martial art program so they can belong to a positive group," he said.
"Our involvement with the Project Action Foundation is basically the mission statement of our business," Lamb said. "We want to be proactive with every Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do student we have. Whether youth or adult, we want to give them a different and positive alternative in our world environment that would drag even the best of us down."
To accomplish this goal, half of the money raised locally will be put into a special scholarship account which will pay for abused and disadvantaged kids in this area to attend martial art classes.
"Family, friends, love, commitment, respect, discipline, and many other social positives are what we really strive to promote," Lamb said. "We believe our discipline and values will have a lasting effect on any person who is committed to making life choices for their own betterment."
The rest of the money is retained by the Project Action Foundation to further their goals on a national scale.
"Sponsors can either commit to a set amount per round or just a flat donation," Lynch said. Several businesses, including Wal-Mart and the Standard Democrat, have already made contributions, he noted.
Participating students will be awarded prizes from Project Action based on the amount they raise ranging from a watch "all the way up to hand-held TVs or three-CD disc changers," Lynch said.
The community is also encouraged to participate.
"Parents and people in the community are invited to watch," Lynch said. "You don't have to be a part of our program to come and watch."
While this is Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do's first time participating, Project Action was founded in 1994 and holds several events each year.
Lynch said his school became involved after reading about the organization in a martial art magazine and thought it would be a good program to participate. "There are a lot of gangs around this area," he noted.
Olympic Style Tae Kwon Do intends to participate in other Project Action events in the future as well such as a "Break-A-Thon" scheduled for May during which boards will be broken.
Lynch said they hope to get local law enforcement officials involved with the next event they participate in.
The Foundation also works with dance and gymnastic studios and holds events for these types of schools. For example, a National Dance Week World Record Perform-A-Thon is scheduled for April.