Twenty years into a career teaching the Korean marital art Tang Soo Do, Martin “Marty” Carson, of Egg Harbor Township, lost his sight in a 1991 car accident. He had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

“I woke up 11 days later at Cooper Hospital in the dark,” he said.

For a while it looked like his legs might have to be amputated above the knees. Even when that wasn’t necessary, doctors didn’t expect him to walk again.

But his training emphasizes indomitable spirit.

“You are only defeated when you are dead,” said Carson, 63. “It’s one of the seven tenets we teach.”

The seventh-degree black belt did learn to walk again, and returned to teaching martial arts. He teaches now as a volunteer for a recreation program at the Egg Harbor Community Center and in a Hamilton Township community education program.

Longtime students — now blackbelts themselves, such as Egg Harbor Township resident and Waterford Elementary School Principal Alfred “Fred” Hair — often assist him in class.

“Now he hears your mistakes,” said Hair, 59, a sixth-level blackbelt. “But a lot of times, (we) are his eyes,” particularly during tournaments and tests.

Carson said his instructor is Ki Yun Yi, a ninth-degree grand master who runs a martial arts school in Woodbury, Camden County.

Hair said his training has helped him in his education career. He started as a music teacher and became an assistant principal in the Galloway Township School District before moving to the Waterford district 10 years ago. He often entertains kids with marital arts and by playing banjo, guitar, violin and piano.

“I’m trying to create an atmosphere where everybody wants to be there. Once you create that, people work really hard,” Hair said. “A lot of what I bring to school I get from what I learned through karate, and I bring to karate what I learned in school.”

For more on Tang Soo Do, visit yisbddmc.com. For Carson’s E.H.T. Karate Club, visit facebook.com/pages/EHT-Karate-Club/359331450818085

EHT artist in Millville

Artist Glynnis Reed, of Egg Harbor Township, is part of the “See Me... Hear Me... Get My Story” exhibit at the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts, 22 N. High Street in Millville, she said.

The exhibit runs through March 15. It pairs artists and poets, who each produced a piece inspired by the other. A poetry reading will be held 4 to 6 p.m. March 8. To learn more, call 856-327-4500 or visit rrcarts.com/

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219, MPost@pressofac.com

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.