Sukita Aguirre – practicing excellence all around!

Sukita Aguirre is a young martial artist with great potential, who is self motivated and takes responsibility for maintaining an excellent practice. Sukita started classes at Sun Soo last fall with encouragement from her father, who holds a 5th degree black belt in Kung Fu. On the mat, Sukita is focused, present, and attentive. She demonstrates leadership in class through her excellent technique and behavior. She treats instructors and classmates with courtesy, and is respectful of other people’s space and time. She enthusiastically practices her Tae kwon Do at home, and this extra effort is noticeable in class. Sukita is a great example of independence, perseverance and self control. Sukita is on the road to becoming a very skilled Tae Kwon Do practitioner and she is a joy to have as a student here at Sun Soo.

sukitaHow old are you? 9

What is your rank? Yellow belt

Where do you go to school? Vance Elementary

Why do you practice? To get better at the things I do

How long have you been practicing? Since I was a white belt

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far? I like doing the moves

What are some of your other hobbies or interests? Swimming, football, painting

What is something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you? My dad was a boxer when I

was 2.

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment? Testing

Tim Johnson – Model citizen and martial artist

Our student spotlight this week is on Tim Johnson. Tim is a dedicated student at Sun Soo who was inspired to start his practice by his 12 year old son, Tim Johnson Jr. Tim puts great effort into his Tae Kwon Do practice, paying attention to details and improving the way he moves. Having recently begun, Tim is off to a great start by attending regularly and making steady technical progress. On and off the mat, Tim is such a kind and gentle person that one might never guess that he is an FBI agent! Working with Tim in class is a great experience for all because he is so helpful and humble. We are honored to have Tim as a student here – as a model citizen, father, husband, community member and leader. Thank you Tim for you contributions!

timjohnsonHow old are you? 51

What is your rank? Yellow belt

What is your occupation? FBI Special Agent assigned to Western North Carolina working from the Veach-Baley Building, Asheville, NC.

Why do you practice? To build a stronger relationship with my son while creating great memories with him. I also practice in order to have a mental and physical practice which leads to personal growth.

How long have you been practicing? Since September, 2014

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far? The staff and students are fantastic. There is unique collection of people from all walks of life who come together in a very supportive and positive environment.

What are some of your other hobbies or interests? Fishing and spending time with the family

What is something that people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you? I spent 3 years traveling the world as part of the FBI’s protection detail from the United States Attorney General. I served Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales.

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment? Watching my son successfully complete his first belt test.

David Tindall makes the most of his Tae Kwon Do practice!

Our student spotlight this week is on David Tindall. David is an excellent martial artist and contributor at Asheville Sun Soo. David and and his wife Amy were both inspired to begin their Tae Kwon Do practice by their son, Chiron (age 12), who currently holds the rank of blue belt. David approaches his practice with an open-minded attitude and allows his classes to serve as reflections for his entire life. David and his family set a great example of teamwork, as they frequently practice together outside of class and gently push each other towards improvement. It is always very special when a parent follows the example of their child and starts a martial arts practice, and David is no exception. We are grateful for the openness, humility, and enthusiasm that David brings to his practice at Asheville Sun Soo. Tae Kwon Do is a vehicle for self improvement, and it is clear that David understands and applies this idea. Thank you David for being a part of our community!

What is your age? 46 (over 21)

What is your rank? Green

What is your occupation? General Manager, Mellow Mushroom Pizza

How long have you been practicing? One year.

Why do you practice? To improve upper-body strength, body awareness and self confidence

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far? The psychological aspects of body movement, especially starting to learn about the dynamics of physical interactions with others.

What are some of your other hobbies/interests? Hiking, concerts, bicycling, table games with family.

What is something people at Asheville Sun Soo probably don’t know about you? I volunteer at WNC Group Homes for Autistic Persons as Human Rights Committee Chairman.

What is your Tae Kwon Do moment? I have two…seeing my son in his first class (first in our family), and seeing my wife in her first class.

Olivia Miller – A fantastic athlete and friend!

Our student spotlight this week is on Olivia Miller. Olivia is a fantastic student at Asheville Sun Soo. Olivia trains with her Mom, Jenny and her younger brother, Crede. Olivia is a talented athlete (running, tennis and Tae Kwon Do) and responsible student who maintains her commitment to her Tae Kwon Do practice, creating discipline and excellence in her busy life . We appreciate Olivia’s helpful attitude and her inclination to make new friends and be inclusive of everyone – a great contribution to our community at Asheville Sun Soo. She additionally contributes by frequently volunteering at Kid’s Night Out and participating in the teen service projects. Olivia has made great progress at Asheville Sun Soo, both physically and emotionally and we are excited to celebrate her progress with her as she tests for her Junior 1st degree black belt in the near future. Thank you Olivia for being awesome and for your contributions here at Asheville Sun Soo!


How old are you?

What is your rank?
Recommended Black Belt

Where do you go to school?
North Buncombe Middle School

How long have you been practicing?
5 years

Why do you practice?
Because I enjoy it and love progressing throughout the ranks. I like learning new forms and other curriculum. I’ve also made some great friends.

What do you enjoy most about your practice so far?
All of it! But mostly forms.

What are some of your other hobbies/interests?
Playing the cello, playing tennis, running

What is something people at Asheville Sun Soo probably don’t know about you?
I enjoy watching Sherlock, Doctor Who, and The Office. I also love England and playing sports.

What is your favorite Tae Kwon Do moment?
I love it all!

Micah Philipp – a 9 year old powerhouse!

Our student spotlight this week is on Micah Philipp. Micah practices with his older sister Maya and helped to inspire his aunt Sarah to practice as well. Micah is currently a red-black belt and has been steadily improving since he started 2 years ago as a white belt. Micah has a great attitude and can be counted on to give 110% on any day, regardless of the circumstances. We love how Micah has persevered through the challenges presented by his Tae Kwon Do practice and the maturity he shows through consistently high motivation. Micah is an inspiration to his peers and teachers alike and we are proud to have him as a student at Asheville Sun Soo!

micahphilippAge: 9

Rank: Red-black

Where you go to school: Rainbow Community School

Why you practice: When I do the moves I inspire myself.

How long you’ve been practicing: 2 years

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: Learning the moves.
Other hobbies/interests: Basketball, reading

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I like to draw and build.

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: When I broke my first board.

Linda Yaverbaum has fun AND gets it done!

Our student spotlight this week is on Linda Yaverbaum. Linda is a hard working person both on and off the mat. She spends long hours in the ER at her job, and then on her breaks, regularly comes to class. We are inspired by her high energy and her commitment to living a life that impacts others in a big way. Linda is patient, funny, and humble. She can be frequently found helping newer students and making friends on the mat. She is a living example of someone who has learned how to take her practice seriously and still keep it fun. Sun Soo would not be the same without her and we are truly grateful to have Linda as part of our community.

lindayaverbaumName: Linda Yaverbaum
Age: 44 (over 21)
Rank: Red-black

Occupation: PA in Mission Hospital’s Emergency Department

Why you practice: Sanity, community, exercise, love of martial arts, stress relief.

How long you’ve been practicing: I’ve been practicing at Sun Soo since August 2013. I previously practiced TKD and Tang Soo Do…I started a LONG time ago.

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: The people/community.
Other hobbies/interests: Hiking, biking, soccer, eating 

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I’m really a tall blonde…

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: Every time a kids breaks a board on their exam. I love to see that.

Katie Parsons spreads the love at Sun Soo!

Our student spotlight this week is on Katie Parsons.  Katie is a fantastic student who is constantly giving in every sense of the word.  Katie gives 110% in class – she sets a great example, stays focused, and gives each move her all.  Additionally, Katie contributes to a positive class environment by treating the teachers with respect, and showing remarkable compassion for other students.  It is common to see Katie going above and beyond to make sure someone else is included.  We are so grateful to have Katie as a student here at Sun Soo!  She spreads the love every day without fail!

katieparsonsAge: 9
Rank: Red-black

Where you go to school: Weaverville Elementary School

Why you practice: Master Morris came to my school once and did some work with us and I wanted to learn how to do it all.

How long you’ve been practicing: 2 ½ years

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: Getting to know all the people!
Other hobbies/interests: Singing, dancing, playing piano, and reading

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I love to sing and dance!

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: My first testing

Michelle Baker – Author, Artist, and Martial Artist!

Our student spotlight this week in on Michelle Baker! Michelle is an awesome Tae Kwon Do powerhouse who practices alongside her son Wilson. In addition to being a fantastic martial artist, Michelle is also a local artist and author.  Michelle kindly included in her interview this invitation to her upcoming book launch:
michellebaker“I would like everyone to know they are invited to Malaprop’s for the book launch party of my new book, The Canoe. Saturday, Nov. 15th, 7 – 9 p.m. Please join me for a book talk, signing and tasty treats. It would be a joy to see familiar Sun Soo faces there.
THE CANOE: Set over the course of ten days in 1912, this poetic portrait of love and loss follows two simultaneous stories: the coming of age of Bernie Kingston, the teenage son of a coffin maker who lives along the Chesapeake Bay and Katherine Chambers, a middle-aged Englishwoman leaving home for the first time as she seeks to recover from the loss of her husband and son. Written in journal format, their parallel journeys are told against the backdrop of the Titanic disaster and the communities touched by its tragedy.”
The Canoe is available in store at Malaprop’s, and is available in print and ebook online via Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashword.

Interview –
Age: 47
Rank: White/Yellow belt
Occupation: Author/Artist/Photographer

Why I practice:
Having studied and practiced Qi Gong, I have always wanted to learn an additional martial art. When my son, Wilson, started at Sun Soo, I knew I would soon follow in his footsteps.

I practice martial arts because I believe life is a constant conversation between the light and the dark, and all that falls in between. I believe a martial arts practice gives practitioners the ability to choose more consciously, more intentionally, how to wake from, enter into or be in the light, the dark, and all the places in between.

This is also why I am an artist, and I believe each of us is an artist. Every moment is a creative act. We might have a set daily routine, but each moment is absolutely new, never to occur again; we can create a new experience within the repetition of our daily lives. A practice like Tae Kwon Do drives this home for me.

How long have I been practicing Tae Kwon Do: Since July 2014

What I enjoy most:
I like learning the forms. I have a background in dance, and always enjoyed learning new choreography. The forms are new choreography to me. The learning is challenging and exciting. I also enjoy being part of a community. Being able to witness and support each other’s learning processes and achievements is a privilege for which I am very grateful.

Other hobbies/interests:
I paint very large, abstract multi-canvas paintings. Some of my work can be seen at Gallery Asheville and Café 64, both in downtown Asheville. I am a photographer as well, and enjoying taking portraits of people.

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about me:
I wrote and performed a solo show that toured across country for two years with three runs off-Broadway. The play is called Sole Survivors. I interviewed immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, and created four composite characters who told their stories interspersed with the music of a live mariachi.

As an actor, writer, and former photojournalist, interviewing the people and writing this show was an absolute thrill to see how all my creative outlets could come together, be expressed, and shed light on and give voice to the stories we often never see or hear.

Favorite Tae Kwon Do movement:  Jump kicks!

Student Spotlight – Jennifer Marshall

Our student spotlight this week is on Jennifer Marshall.  Jennifer is an excellent student and friend here at Sun Soo.  Ever since beginning her practice, Jennifer has attended classes consistently and has practiced on her own.  In class, she always gives 110% and never seems to have an “off” day.  Jennifer is quick to lend a hand if needed and can always be counted on to demonstrate controlled and respectful behavior.  Jennifer is growing into an incredibly powerful and capable young woman and we are very happy that she is one of our students here at Sun Soo.  Go Jennifer!

picture of jennifer marshall

Age: 13

Rank: Black-recommended

School: Enka Middle School

Why you practice: The main reason is that I love the community of the whole place

How long you’ve been practicing: 2 ¼ years

What you enjoy most about your practice so far: It’s a great outlet for my energy and it has helped me to focus better and think faster.

Other hobbies/interests: I like to draw and write. I’m also interested in biology, mainly zoology.

Something people at Tae Kwon Do probably don’t know about you: I have a pet snake and I’m in the school choir.

Favorite Tae Kwon Do moment: At one testing, Sarah and I were both sparring and we both did a solar-plexus punch.  So we punched each other’s hands and it hurt, but we were both cracking up about it too.

Student Spotlight is on Tina Clark!

Our student spotlight this week is on Tina Clark, who started her practice this year after spending many months watching her son Dylan practice from the lobby.  She is a mother of 2 (13 year old daughter Sydney and 8 year old Dylan), and a wife of 18 years.  Most recently, Tina’s husband Gren started his practice and just tested for his white-yellow belt! Tina is a sharp and focused practitioner who brings excellent balance and coordination to her evolving practice.  Additionally, she is a great partner for any classmate, young or old, due to her amazing capacity to relate to others and make people feel safe.  We are so glad that Tina (and fer family members) practice here at Sun Soo and we hope you enjoy Tina’s interview below!
Age:  44
Rank:  yellow/green belt
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor which means I am board certified to conduct talk therapy to help clients with an array of issues that are often interfering with them living their best life. I own my own private practice but have worked in a variety of settings (domestic violence and homeless shelters, a rehabilitation hospital in the traumatic brain injury unit and a university student center). It is an honor and privilege to be in this line of work and yet it can also be an arduous career path where self-care is of utmost importance. If I don’t take care of myself then I won’t be able to take very good care of the people counting on me…my clients and most importantly my family.
So that explains the primary reason I practice Tae Kwon Do at Sun Soo. My son Dylan (who is 8 years old and a green blue belt) began practicing in the Spring of 2013. The more I watched his classes and witnessed the changes in him, the more I wondered what it would be like to be an adult student. I remember Master Morris mentioning that really cool things happen when parents practice with their children. I remained skeptical for a short time, worrying that I would somehow interfere with my son’s progress. It wasn’t until I watched some of the Saturday testings that I began to see what he meant. I saw a huge community of adults and students that supported each other with cheer, hugs and words of encouragement. I saw instructors and students fully invested in their school and I started to realize I wanted to be a part of that…not just sitting on the sidelines. I also realized that my life load was pretty heavy and I needed a healthy way to unload that heaviness. I also have always been happier when I was part of a team (athletic or otherwise) and I hadn’t been part of a team in some time. The final nudge came from my friend, colleague and Sun Soo black belt Nancy Fraser (who works in my building). She seemed to think it was just what I needed. The rest is history. I decided to ask Santa for a uniform and first month at Sun Soo for Christmas. Thanks Santa! I started in January of this year.
At first I felt overwhelmed and about as uncoordinated as I can ever recall feeling. Fortunately I felt surrounded by smiling supportive students and instructors who helped me learn to stop worrying and just keep going. I enjoy so many aspects of my practice 7 months into it. I absolutely love the community and the heart of this school. I love that my body, mind and spirit are getting stronger every class. I love the amazing friends I am making. I love watching the incredible contribution Sun Soo has made in my son’s life. He has grown up so much in the past year. I love that now we have gotten my husband Gren hooked too. Tonight he said that he “needs” to get to class tomorrow “it’s been too long since Monday.” I love the challenges ahead and the upper ranking students that show me what I am capable of with enough practice and perseverance.
I have many other hobbies and interests. I love rock climbing, horseback riding, canoeing/kayaking, playing soccer and lacrosse, hiking, drawing, photography, cooking, traveling, volunteering for Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and enjoying time with my kids.
I’m not sure if I can narrow down a favorite moment in Tae Kwon Do. I love watching my son test and seeing how laser focused and full of pride he can become. I enjoy the many moments when I have laughed so hard or been moved to tears. I enjoy and appreciate the extra help and mentoring that seems readily available and eagerly given. I love that when I get called onto the mat at testing, everywhere I look there are people smiling and encouraging me to do my best. I am eternally grateful for Sun Soo and everything it has and continues to give my family.