You've likely seen movies where the heroes and the bad guys engage in hand-to-hand combat using various forms of martial arts. In reality, martial arts are much more than kicking and punching.
For students of Byrd's Martial Arts Academy, event like a recent demonstration at Coastal Middle School give them a chance show what they have learned and receive a new belt to recognize their level of achievement. Michael Byrd has been teaching martial arts for more than 30 years.
"The biggest thing is getting the message across to kids to realize how important it is to be respectful to each other," he said. "How to build a better person for themselves."
Byrd leads by example, teaching and volunteering to help others where ever he's needed.
"He just got back from working in on the hurricane in Louisiana and now he's going down in Florida helping on Rita," said student Conner Armstrong.
"He's a very good individual," said student Kaleb Scroggin. "He's been around for a long time on the island and he's affected a lot of people's lives. He tries to better the community any anyway possible."
Parents who enroll their children in Byrd's program agree. The most important things he teaches are respect, courtesy and integrity. "And those are the things--I have two kids that have been in the program seven years--that they learn," said parent Jennifer Armstrong. "They're learning not only to be good athletes but to be good people and that's what he teaches them."
"We work on life skills and things to help them through their everyday life," said Byrd, noting it also helps them do better in school.
For his continuing effort to help the youth of his community grow up to be better citizens, Michael Byrd is this week's WTOC Hometown Hero.
If you'd like to nominate a Hometown Hero, you can drop us a line at the station: PO Box 8086, Savannah, GA 31412, or email email@example.com.