Lindsey Horton couldn’t fight back the tears this weekend as he was honored for 40 years as chief instructor of Jackson State University’s Taekwondo Karate Club. Students from as far as Bermuda returned to Jackson to celebrate the man who
taught them the rules of martial arts and life. Several thousand students have joined the karate club since its founding in 1971.
“This program has the opportunity to reach a lot of young people,” Horton, 59, said. “I use taekwondo to get their attention because you have to get their attention before you teach them anything.”
Horton, an eighth-degree black belt and deputy chief of the Jackson Police Department, was introduced to taekwondo at an early age. His brother was a military man stationed in Korea.
“He would come back and talk to us about his experience,” Horton said. “The word alone amazed me – taekwondo.”
Horton took lessons at the YMCA throughout middle school and high school before enrolling at Jackson State. A snare drummer in the Sonic Boom Marching Band and a first-degree black belt, an 18-year-old Horton incorporated taekwondo into his personal workouts and caught the attention of his fellow bandmates.
“They observed me working out and approached me,” Horton said. “One workout led to many workouts, and at that time everyone wanted to be Bruce Lee, myself included.”
Horton soon got the green light from university officials to start the club, which was only open to students and faculty at the time. The club is now open to all ages 5 and up. Former students reflected on how Horton has shaped their lives. Robert Cook, who founded the spinoff Metro Karate Club in 1978, said Horton holds a special place in his life for several roles including as an instructor and law enforcement colleague.
“I have never been disappointed in any of those capacities,” said Cook, deputy director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Recalling the first day he met Horton in 1974 at JSU, Cook said he saw “this guy who wasn’t big in stature doing some amazing things.”
Many said Horton was the father they never had, the man who taught them the true meaning of respect, discipline and integrity. This past Father’s Day, he received 67 text messages, more than 40 cards and countless phone calls.
“I’ve been truly blessed, perhaps more than I deserve,” said Horton, who has received recognition from state, local and county officials.
Cook said Horton has made a significant difference in so many lives not just for teaching how to kick and punch “but for the life skills he teaches, by living by example.”
He’s taught that “your word is your bond, that your character is what you do when no one is watching,” Cook said.