Taekwondo comes to town: High Performance Institute of Taekwondo opens inside Gauntlet Fitness

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
Instructor Jean Gamarra and his daughter Liesel give a demonstration at the grand opening of the High Performance Institute of Taekwondo.
Instructor Jean Gamarra and Carter County Commissioner Jerry Alvord cut the ribbon at The High Performance Institute of Taekwondo.

The High Performance Institute of Taekwondo held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony Saturday morning for a new location in Ardmore. The new studio is run by Instructor Jean Gamarra who has over 30 years of experience in the martial art including participating and winning international competitions.

Gamarra described what taekwondo is.

“Taekwondo is a traditional martial art from Korea that employs a lot of kicks and punching techniques mainly to be used as a form of self defense,” Gamarra said. “The kicks include a lot of acrobatics, so it’s very high speed.”

Gamarra began learning taekwondo in 1986 in his home country of Peru and made the national team by 1994. He remained on the team until 2001 and then emigrated to the United States. He opened his first institute in Florida and later in Kentucky and Virginia, before moving to Texas and opening a school in Arlington. 

“We started a private facility in Arlington 10 years ago,” Gamarra said. “It’s been an amazing journey, and now we’re here in Ardmore. Oklahoma is a very friendly environment for our family and I believe the community encourages education and sports. It’s also very close to Texas so that allows us to oversee both of our locations.”

He said taekwondo is good for all ages with his daughter learning beginning at the age of two and his grandfather taking up the sport in his 90s.

“Most of my students in Texas are actually in their 50s and 60s,” he said. “They couldn’t believe what they were able to do with taekwondo, and now some of them are going into the world championships. They’re able to do more things and be more active because it gives you such a range of abilities and allows you to keep challenging yourself.”

Gamarra invited Carter County Commissioner Jerry Alvord to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and speak at the grand opening.

“What we’re seeing in my opinion is the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit that America provides,” Alvord said. “I’ve got to know Jean and his wife Rachel, and I’m impressed with what they’ve done and what they’ve created. Now they’ve chosen Ardmore as a place to be both personally and professionally connected. I believe this, like all business are essential for many reasons. They bring the community together because they are providing for themselves and giving back to the system. They are an essential part of what makes us America, what makes us Ardmore.”