Joshua Savyon would have lived at a martial arts studio if he could. The nine-year-old boy wanted to participate in as many classes as possible at the American Taekwondo Association Martial Arts of Southern New Hampshire, despite his instructors' recommended weekly attendance of one or two days. "He never came in without a smile on his face," Mark Harbinson, owner and chief instructor of the martial arts studio in Bedford, N.H., told MSNBC.
Josh recently completed about 300 hours of class time to earn his first-degree black belt, which was a major milestone for him. He was working toward his next goal: earning his second-degree black belt. "Anytime he learned something new or he was able to show his parents he practiced something or got something right, that was always a major event," said Harbinson, who knew Josh since he started taking classes about four years ago. The rising fourth grader lived in Amherst, N.H., with his mother, who watched her son's progression closely.
Josh's enthusiasm earned him friends within the studio and around the country. He competed in nationwide tournaments, traveling to Florida and throughout New England. He looked forward to participating in the upcoming competition in Bourne, Mass., during the second weekend of September. Josh "loved being a kid," Rabbi Levi Krinsky of the Lubavitch synagogue of Manchester, N.H., told MSNBC. But he also wanted to share his skills with other students. He recently began assisting instructors during martial arts classes. "He stood out just because of his enthusiasm," Harbinson said. "Everything he does, he just does 100%."
Joshua was shot and killed by his father, who then committed suicide, at a YWCA office in Manchester on Aug. 11 during a supervised parental visitation.