I had wanted to learn Martial Arts for a number of years but it wasn’t until two years ago that I had decided to join Martial Arts because I wanted to learn how to fight and defend myself. I thought that Tae Kwon Do had looked interesting, and wanted to try it out to see if I would like it. My first couple of days were sort of intimidating. Everyone in the class seemed to know so many kicks and moves and I didn’t have any previous experience with the Martial Arts. In addition to the moves and techniques, I was the most inexperienced and lowest student in the class. Therefore for a long time I didn’t have anyone else at my skill level and was expected to train with higher belts that had months and even years of additional training. I remember some of the first things that I learned were Jujitsu techniques and basic kicks. I struggled with these now simple moves at the beginning but after a little while I began getting used to class and started to really enjoy it. As time went on, I started forming my goal to reach the black belt rank, and was very excited when I took the first step towards it by testing for and earning my first belt. When I first started out, I thought the only thing I would learn was how to fight. But, as I advanced to each rank, I started to realize that certain lessons were being taught as well. For example, we were taught what destiny is and how the way we act will eventually develop into what we will become. I also learned what it takes to become a black belt and what you need to do in order to reach your goals not only through the increasing level of difficulty that came with each rank, but also through the creeds we recite in class.
Besides learning different lessons as time went on, I also started taking on new responsibilities. I started having to know new forms, hand and foot techniques, stances, and Korean terminology. Around the time that I had my brown belt, I even started to help other members learn their forms. This was a big step for me as I had to teach others the skills and techniques that they needed to be successful in moving on to the next level and belt. Eventually, when I had reached my red belt, I joined the Storm Team, and was able to start helping out with the younger students in the early class. I had also joined the Black Belt Club around that time, and began learning more advanced techniques as well as how to use different types of weapons.
Over the past couple of years, not only have I learned many different forms, kicks, as well as how to do stand up and ground sparring, but I have also acquired confidence, self-discipline, respect for others, self-control, and leadership. I have learned leadership by helping the younger students in class through the Storm Team, and by helping to lead warm-ups. I have also learned self-discipline by pushing myself to give my best at each class and setting goals and working hard in order to reach them. I have also make sure that I set time aside at home to practice forms and techniques, and trying to keep in shape by doing different exercises such as running. Self-discipline has helped me to do my best at school and home as well because I know that I have to get all of my work done first instead of putting it off and doing whatever I want. This has helped me to become more goal oriented towards my future because I have set higher standards for myself by making sure I do well in high school so that I can get to a good college. It has also helped me to plan out my future and career, to know what I want, and how to stay dedicated towards those goals as well. Tae Kwon Do has also helped me gain respect for others simply by learning the philosophy of Martial Arts. For example, it’s expected of me to address instructors as “sir” or “ma’am”, and to keep quiet and listen when they are speaking or teaching. I apply the same concept at school by not joking around during class and paying attention to what my teacher is telling me to do. I have also learned that there are consequences for my actions, such as not practicing or obeying my parents at home. In addition, I have learned respect for others by participating in the 50 Acts of Kindness project every year. It has taught me to respect others by helping my family and even people that I don’t know, through simple acts of kindness such as holding the door open form someone, or taking out the trash without being asked. I have also learned to show respect for my parents, teachers, and other adults by only having to be asked once if they ask me to do something.
In addition to respect for others, Tae Kwon Do has helped me gain confidence by learning and achieving my individual potential by setting goals and staying dedicated to earning my next belt. As I advanced to each rank, I had to learn harder techniques. Even thought they looked difficult to do, I realized that as I earned each new belt, I was able to do so by working hard and being persistent. This helped to build my self-confidence, which in return helped me to be able to go out and tackle other activities in my life, such as applying for a job in person. I find that I now have the ability to stand up for my beliefs and go after those things in my life that I want for my future. Martial Arts has given me is self-control. I may have been taught how to fight when a situation calls for it, but it has also shown me to restrain myself and avoid starting a fight in a situation that I should walk away from. I’ve learned that just because I know how to fight doesn’t mean I should use the skills I’ve acquired to dominate others, and to use them instead solely for self defense.
Finally, Martial Arts has allowed me to develop patience. Over the past two years I have had to learn that it takes time and effort to obtain my goals. In the beginning I earned my early belts rather quickly but as I approached the higher belt levels I learned that it took longer and demanded more effort and commitment on my part. Because of this, I learned to have patience in other areas of my life. When working with younger kids I have to understand that they may not get a move or technique as quickly as I did and so I have to be patient with them. I have to be patient with people that I work with and go to school with because we don’t all have the same agenda or goals.
Over the past couple of years, I have been taught different techniques and drills that I have come to favor. Some of my favorite things to do at practice are weapons, jujitsu, and working with the “pows”. The two weapons that I like to use the most are the bow staff and knife. I like to use the bow staff because I enjoyed learning how to use it through the form and I thought that it was fairly easy to learn as well. The knife is another favorite weapon of mine because I like knowing how to use a knife in case I am ever attacked with one, and knowing how to use it in order to defend myself. Jujitsu is my favorite fighting style because I like learning the different techniques and the challenge and competition that comes with grappling on the ground. The rear choke and the arm bar are the two techniques that I like to use the most. Doing different drills with the “pows” is another thing that I like about Tae Kwon Do because I like practicing the different boxing techniques. A few other things that I like include different kicks, hand techniques, forms, and one step sparring. A couple of kicks that I like to do are the roundhouse and the axe kicks. I like the roundhouse because it is one of the first kicks that I learned, and I enjoy doing the axe kicks because of the power that you can build up by bringing the kick up slow and then bringing it down as hard as you can. I don’t’ have a hand technique in particular that I favor, but I do just like learning the different attacks and blocks and how they can be used, and practicing them in class. I also do not have a particular form that I favor over the others, but I like doing the combinations within each form and trying them out during sparring. The challenge in remembering and trying to do better in performing my forms is something that I just like doing anyways. Finally, for one, two, and three step sparring, I would say that the techniques that I like the most are some of the hand techniques. The reason why I favor these the most is because they’re fun to take and try to make strong and fast when you do them.
In conclusion, Martial Arts has not only taught me how to fight and defend myself, but I have also formed important values. Because of this, I have become confident, and have learned self-control, self-discipline, leadership, and respect for others. In return, I think this has helped me to become a stronger mentally and physically, as well as an overall better person.
My husband and his siblings all went to Hess growing up and now our son goes and loves it. I wouldn't have it any other way. He is wonderful with kids and teaches them not only martial arts but life lessons and respect. - Jessica Crawford