Why did you start TKD?
I started taekwondo because I wanted to do an extracurricular activity, and my dad suggested martial arts. I remember walking in that studio for the first time when I was six years old, and I told Ms. Maria “I’m going to be a black belt and I’m going to help you teach.” Look at me now, six years later- in two months I’ll be testing to do exactly that! It’s been such a long road filled with tough mental and physical training, testings, tournaments, board breaks, seminars, and many, many hours of pure training, but I’ve finally made it, and I’m so glad that all those years ago I told my dad yes when he asked if I wanted to do it.
What do you like most about TKD?
The thing I like most is probably teaching and sharing my love of the art with others. I only started teaching because it was a requirement for my black belt testing, and at first I wasn’t the biggest fan, but as time went on I began to enjoy it and even get to know some of the lower belts that I teach every week. Teaching also helps me learn and remember my earlier knowledge, because now I have to know how to explain it and fix people’s mistakes.
What do you like most about Golden Dragon Defense?
The best thing and the thing that I like most about this studio is that we’re all a family. I mean, if you just wanted to casually learn taekwondo three times a week, you could do that anywhere. But here at GDD, everyone knows everyone and everyone is there for everyone. For example, my mom is having surgery in two days as of now and my dad works nights, so I’m going to have issues getting to taekwondo for a while. But when they found out, lots of people that I take classes with offered to pick me up or drop me off at home so I could still get to all my classes. That’s what taekwondo is- being there for your neighbors when they need you.
Is Dragon Lady as scary as she sounds?
She definitely could be if she wanted to, but I think she dials it back most of the time. You know, she doesn’t want to scare away the customers and all. But if you’re considering trying out a class, you shouldn’t worry about it- I haven’t seen her pull out ‘Dragon Lady’ on a new kid (yet). My advice to make sure you’re not the first- just be respectful and follow along with the instructors/assistants. You also can’t go wrong with a “yes ma’am” or “yes sir”!
How long have you been learning from Ms. Maria?
I’ve been learning from her since I was six, and I’m now twelve, meaning I’ve been taking her classes and learning from her for six years. However, even though I’ve only been with her for six years, I know I’ve internalized many of her lessons and will continue to use them as I grow older and go through life. She’s an amazing teacher and she’s helped me in so many ways. I would highly recommend her studio before anywhere else just because she not only teaches taekwondo, she improves people’s lives.
What advice would you give to a white belt starting out?
My advice would be to pay attention above all else. Watch the instructors and assistants when they’re showing a concept, and try your hardest at new things. Remember to study your knowledge not only before tests, but as soon as you get it. Try to memorize your Korean numbers, the pledge, and the tenets. And above all else, remember to clean your room! Kidding. (But she will ask you if it’s clean when you test, so make sure you remember that!) My real ‘above all else’ advice would probably be to stick with it. It’s a tough art that requires a ton of dedication and self-discipline, but it’s so worth it in the end to get where I am and beyond. Good luck on your taekwondo journey!