Jake Newman makes a few friends at his new school but also gets beat up a lot by a pack of boys who enjoy making his life hell. Jake's uncle pushes him to learn how to defend himself by studying the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. Jake learns quickly; in fact, with his uncle's help, he comes to excel at the sport.
And when the bullies at school push him too far, Jake puts some of them in the hospital. But real life is not like a martial arts movie. Jake learns that the real world doesn't honor people who solve their problems with violence, even when they are provoked.
Finally, after he faces his meanest opponent in a Taekwondo tournament, Jake has to puzzle out the confusing question at the heart of self-defense. How can someone protect himself without striking back?