First Degree, 15 Years Old

I was told when I did my intro with Master Morris that obtaining a black belt takes three years. I thought ‘I doubt I’ll make it that long’, and pushed the idea of black belt away. When I did my first class the following day, my opinion changed. When I saw the speed and agility of the black belts on the first row I was blown away. That was the October of 6th grade, about a week after the testing here at Sun Soo. In the fast-paced three years that have followed I haven’t really thought back to that first day until now.

I had come out here before, because when my cousin Drew started in 4th grade I had considered starting also. I had watched probably 4 or 5 classes before deciding to stick with soccer. So when I came to the October testing of 2011, I had the same mind set. Or, I did beforehand. As soon as I got home I told my parents that I wanted to start. My intro was Friday of that week.

I remember the challenge of core work of my first class. I also remember the challenge of core work from the class I did on Thursday. Some things never change. But some things do. I didn’t really like forms when I first started, yet I love them now. I liked one-steps, and still do. I’ve always like how fluid sparring is when it’s done at a fast pace. I admire the speed and power it takes to break a board. Like I said something’s never change, but something’s do. I’m glad that my confidence changed, because when I first started I wouldn’t have been able to do this, and I would’ve avoided talking in front of all you at all costs. I’m also really happy that my coordination changed, because I haven’t fallen today, which is a good sign.

A year into my practice, about November of 2012, Mrs. Dexter was looking for teen helpers for the Mighty Tigers. Before I volunteered, I didn’t know what the Mighty Tigers were. I learned that day that the Mighty Tigers are 3-5 year olds that want to do Tae Kwon Do. I was a little apprehensive at first, because most 3-5 year olds don’t have the best attention spans, but once I started helping I haven’t looked back. I’ve been helping with the tigers for 2 years (wow. I hadn’t realized it’s been that long), and I’ve continued help with the Mighty Tiger class on Fridays at 4:00.

Around blue belt another thing started; middle school. Now I can’t say that I enjoyed every minute of middle school, but I can say that it was an experience. I think Tae Kwon Do helped me with my perseverance and my confidence and my drive to work hard at school. I tried my hardest in several things such beta club, art, student council, the geography bee, track and Tae Kwon Do of course. I had a really hard year at school this past year, but Tae Kwon Do’ s tenants (perseverance, integrity, indomitable spirit, courage and self-control) helped me get through it. With the help of Tae Kwon Do’s tenants I was able to an end hard year with many positive achievements.

While working towards my red-black belt, I developed a hip issue. It seems I was growing faster than my hip flexor tendon wanted me to, and it caused and still causes some pain when I kick, specifically. I haven’t let this injury stop me in my goal of obtaining black belt, but just the opposite. This injury pushed me to try my hardest even when I felt like I couldn’t give any more. Because I persevered, my goal of black-belt is in sight.

This past June, I decided it was time for me to pursue the next belt. I began to review with Master Morris, and around August I was given some feedback I didn’t understand. He told me to be big, something which I had no idea how to do. Although it seems like this wouldn’t be a problem for my 6 foot 1 self, but up until that point I was trying to act small emotionally, and physically. I was really confused for about a week, but eventually overcame this hurdle. I’ve been trying my hardest, and have felt my life change.

So that brings me to today, October of 2014, almost to my goal of obtaining black belt. I did the tournament about 2 weeks ago, and that was very reassuring. Although I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in some things, it was a good vote of confidence that I was improving. I strongly believe that the practice and the people who practice here have changed my life.

It’s very hard for a high schooler to look into the future, but I’m going to try to. Following this testing I’m going join my school’s swim team. Because of swim practices and class are at the same time, I’m not going to be able to come to class as often as I’d like, but I promise that I am not quitting. I’m going to continue to practice through the season, Saturdays mostly, and hope to begin to come to classes more often at the end of the season. I look forward to helping people with their testing’s, because I know how hard it can be (especially in my preparation for this one) to prepare for them. I look forward to helping people with their board breaks, as many people have helped me with mine. I know that in my practice I’ve gotten more confident, and more coordinated. When I started practicing I fumbled around, unsure of what I was doing. I have felt myself gotten more coordinated, and I’ve been getting more and more confident in myself and my abilities.

I have many people I’d like to thank for all their help. I’d like to thank my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles for bringing to class. I’d like to thank my friends for understanding why I don’t respond to their texts during class. I’d like to thank the Weaverville car-pool, Donna, Drew and Chris, for being great friends. I’d like to thank Drew Katsigianis for getting me to start practicing here. I’d like to thank Donna and Chris Hollinshead for being great friends and for giving me great advice that comes from our Tuesday night journeys to West Asheville and back. I’d like to thank the instructional staff here at Asheville Sun Soo, for pushing me to do my best. I’d like to thank Cara and Joann for being great friends. I’d like to thank the Mighty Tigers because y’all are awesome. I’d like to thank the community here at Sun Soo, for being so inviting and friendly.