For the past 13 years, Sullenger has studied and worked on his skills in the martial arts - first in taekwondo and for the past six years in hapkido, both Korean forms of the martial art of self defense.
When the owner of Sikeston Moo Sul Kwan decided to sell the school, Sullenger took a different form of self-defense - this time to save a Sikeston institution which has been teaching the martial arts for some 30 years. In February, Sullenger became the new owner.
"I kind of fell into it," admitted Sullenger. "I wasn't sure I had the time but I wanted to keep it from closing." Sullenger bought the business from Gary Meeks, who had owned the business some 10 years.
Sullenger, a second degree black belt in hapkido, was already serving as an instructor at the school. Now, as owner, he said he wants to continue the tradition of the school while expanding the classes to more students.
Already Sikeston Moo Sul Kwan is offering Little Dragons, a 30-minute class for youngsters ages 4 through 7 from 5:30-6 p.m. Also there are youth classes in taekwondo for those ages 8-12 from 6-7 p.m. and classes for those ages 13 and up from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. These are offered every Tuesday and Thursday.
On Mondays and Wednesdays Sullenger will continue to teach hapkido classes from 7-9 p.m. Recently the school added a pre-hapkido class for those ages 10 through 15 years old from 6-7 p.m.
Every Saturday there are Little Dragons classes from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. followed by youth and adult classes from 10 -11:30 a.m.
According to Sullenger, the Little Dragons class is designed as a starter class for youngsters to enable them to learn some basics about the martial art of taekwondo. The youth classes are designed to teach the art of taekwondo.
The pre-hapkido class is designed to encourage students to become involved in the ancient form of self-defense while protecting youngsters who are still growing. (See related article on today's sports page).
Students, whether as young as 4 or as adults, are encouraged to attend at least two classes a week to practice their skills.
Luke LeGrand, a first degree in taekwondo, teaches the youth and adult taekwondo classes. The new owner points out LeGrand has a strong connection to the school; it was his uncle who first opened Sikeston Moo Sul Kwan in the 1970s.
The Little Dragons class is taught by Michael Scott while the pre-hapkido instructor is Jennifer Thomure.
While there are many like Sullenger who continue to strive to improve their skills, testing for higher rankings at Sikeston Moo Sul Kwan, there are also beginning students, too.
Sullenger said all the instructors work closely with the students so they can succeed in mastering new skills. But, he cautioned, "we don't give belts away. They have to earn them."
With open enrollment, Sullenger said new students are welcomed at any time. Also to ensure they will be happy with their choice, Sikeston Moo Sul Kwan offers the first month of classes free. The school charges for classes on a per month basis with plans available for more than one family member or a family plan.
"We are very family-oriented," Sullenger emphasized. "We like to consider all of the students family. It is their school. Here, everyone gets involved."
To learn more about Sikeston Moo Sul Kwan, the new owner encourages the public to simply drop by and observe a class or call 472-1110 and leave a message.