What got you started in taekwondo?
“I just started off of a whim. I just wanted to get out my comfort zone, and this is something that was offered around where I lived, so I decided to give it a shot and I ended up loving it. I started in 2011, so it’s been seven years.”
What belt are you?
“I am testing for my second degree black belt in April. We have to spar, but we have gear so we’re protected. We also have to do a form, which is kicking, punching, blocks and strikes. That takes about two and a half minutes to finish. The worst part is breaking boards because you get three chances to break it. If you don’t, you automatically fail. It’s very intimidating but I’ve only failed to break my board once, about a year or two ago.”
What does a normal practice look like?
“We don’t really have a set curriculum. The instructor knows what we will do but the students don’t. There will be days where we spar for around 30 minutes and then do our form, and then maybe do self-defense another day; it just depends on what the instructor wants us to do. It’s actually kind of fun to be surprised with the curriculum.”
What are some of your greatest accomplishments through taekwondo?
“First off, in 2015, I was the Missouri state champion, and then again last year. In order to qualify for the world championships, you have to garner enough points throughout all of the competitions and place in the top 10 nationally, and I was sixth in the nation in forms and weapons. I did pretty well; I didn’t place, but I got there and that’s all that matters.”
What does preparing for a competition look like?
“I previously was on a tournament team but I took a break from that because of school, but we had morning practice on every Saturday for around an hour. On that day, we’d focus have a focus. It ranged from forms to weapons and sparring, but we were also given private lessons. There’s a lot of memorization that takes place when it comes to forms and weapons and technique training. It’s just a lot of training.”
How long do you plan on doing this?
“I plan on continuing this until I can’t move my legs. You can start taekwondo when you’re just 4 years old. We have these classes for the younger students called Tiny Tiger classes, which I used to help out and teach those, but now I’ve moved up to helping out with the older student classes. I’m at Rise Martial Arts, it’s in Des Peres, MO. It’s newer and a small space, but 2 walls are going to be knocked down in order to make a huge training mat.”
What benefits come with taekwondo?
“My mentality has greatly strengthened. I have an anxiety disorder and I feel like if I didn’t pursue taekwondo, I wouldn’t be in the state that I am in today. There’s so much discipline training involved and I feel like I apply that to myself in my coping skills and practicing them more.”
“Whenever I would feel anxious, I would just push through and go to practice in order to beat my anxiety.”
“It’s close to home, and I saw that there’s a sports business management program, so I did a little shadowing here. When I found out how hands-on the program was and how the majority of our learning was in the field rather than in the classroom, that’s when I knew it was where I need to be. I used to want to be a veterinarian, but I took a marketing class in high school and we did a unit on sports business management and I fell in love with it.”
How has your experience at Maryville been so far?
“Very fulfilling. My expectations have been met and they have even been exceeded.”