James Marr and Elaine Bayless moved to Shaker to be closer to family, bringing their successful Taekwon-do school with them.
By Jennifer Proe
Who: James Marr and Elaine Bayless
Where: Boulevard neighborhood
Business: Master Marr’s Family Taekwon-do Center. The couple opened the center in 2014 after renovating a space on Chagrin Boulevard across from Shaker Town Center. They operated a successful Taekwon-do school in New Jersey for 11 years before moving to Shaker Heights to be closer to family.
Mission: To help each student reach his or her full potential, both mentally and physically, through the art of Taekwon-do, emphasizing the traditional values of discipline, consistent practice, hard work, and focus. We strive to give students a solid foundation for all aspects of life, ultimately promoting good citizenship.
What I Love About My Work:
James: My best days at work are when we see the thriving community that we helped create. We have people from all walks of life and from many different backgrounds all working, practicing, and playing together. Our students make friends that they would never have met if not for our Taekwon-do school.
Elaine: Most of all I love the people, particularly the kids. To see their self-confidence grow and watch them develop into leaders is very satisfying. I also enjoy a job that keeps me active. I’d be miserable stuck behind a desk all day.
Elaine: James and I met in New York City, where we were both theatre stage managers. That’s an exciting job when you’re young and single, but as a parent, it’s really challenging with long hours, mostly evenings and weekends. Once our kids were in school, we felt like we rarely saw them. James decided to leave the theatre and follow his other passion of Taekwon-do. He ran the first Taekwon-do school solo for two years until we could afford for me to join him.
James: I was pretty sure I didn’t belong in Nebraska, where I grew up, and after a year at Bowling Green State University I moved to New York City to intern at The Juilliard School, which jump-started my theatre career. I met my Taekwon-do teacher, Grandmaster SJ Kim, in 1993 and knew he was the teacher for me. I met my future wife in 1994 and knew instantly that she was the one for me. From then on my path was set. The decision to open a Taekwon-do school was easy to make but hard to execute – as was the decision to move to Shaker. Leaving behind the school and community that we built was really hard, but I visit often and life in Ohio is great.
On Working and Living in Shaker Heights:
James: I think Shaker Heights and Cleveland are fantastic. I love that we can go hear the Cleveland Orchestra and be home by 9 pm. I love that I can pick up the Rapid a block from my house and take it to an Indians game. I love that my children are in a good school that has far more opportunities than what was considered the “best public school” within an hour of NYC. And I love that when people in Shaker ask you how you are doing, they really want to know.
Elaine: We moved here to be closer to my parents after my dad was diagnosed with cancer. We also wanted a strong school system for our children, Amelia and Duncan, then 15 and 12. My sister, Jean Bayless Albrecht, had lived here for over a decade and been singing Shaker’s praises, so we followed her lead. I love the North Union Farmer’s Market at Shaker Square, and the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, both of which are walking distance from our house. I’m at Heinen’s grocery store every other day (conveniently located across from my work), and our favorite lunch spot is J. Pistone’s.
Master Marr’s Family Taekwon-do Center
16706 Chagrin Boulevard (parking off Kenyon Road)
(216) 921-KICK (5425) or marrtkd.com