Everyone's Taekwondo journey is a little different. Our instructors all have different stories and motives for their reason for doing martial arts and why they love it.
Name: Ms. Stephanie Reyes
Rank: Second Degree Black Belt
What age did you start Taekwondo? I started right after my 13th birthday.
What were your first thoughts when you started? When I took my first class my thoughts were, "I've never done any sports before; this is hard. I feel really uncomfortable. I have no idea what I'm doing." But by the second class, I felt so much better. I felt more comfortable and motivated. Also, on a lighter note, my brother had bet me that I wouldn't do it, so I really wanted to prove him wrong. Here I am, 8 years later, still proving him wrong.
When did Taekwondo become more than just a sport for you? I was 15 and right about a red belt. That is when I started Demo Team. Since I was there so often, it started feeling like more of a home then a gym, almost like a second family I come to see every week.
Why do you love Taekwondo? There are so many parts of Taekwondo, anyone can find strength in it. Your strength could be board breaking, forms, sparring, weapons, flexibility, or even tumbling. Of course, everyone should strive to be well rounded, but it's cool to know that you can have 1 thing you excel at within Taekwondo and really make it your own.
How has Taekwondo changed you? When I was younger, I refused to order food at a restaurant by myself. It's helped me gain a significant amount of confidence. Taekwondo has also brought about friendships that genuinely will last a lifetime. Those positive influences and solid friendships have led me to where I am now.
Why do you love teaching? I love being able to make connections with kids and adults from all kinds of backgrounds. Some come from broken homes who just need a role model, some are incredibly shy and need a boost of confidence, some are bullied and need a place they can feel safe, and some just need a place they can work out and can feel welcome instead of judged. Everyone's story is different, so being a teacher you're able to learn about them individually and really strive to be there for them in any way you can. Eventually, they become more then just students; they become family.
Why should people enroll in Taekwondo? It's not like any other sport. It's not just a fun recreational hobby. It is a place for your child to have good role models. It is a place they can learn respect and self control. It is a place where you can go to fit in. It's a good place to work out. It is a confidence builder. It is a discipline. Anyone can do it - I really mean anyone! We have taught adults in their 70's, people in wheelchairs, people in leg/arm casts, people who are deaf, children with cerebral palsy, Aspergers, and ADHD. It's all about your individual progress, taking it at your own pace, and doing the best you can according to your ability.
Do you have any tips for beginners? Don't compare yourself! Everyone's journey is different. It's not going to be comfortable or easy at first, but it will be fun. Don't compare yourself to the black belt or the higher rank in the room because they were once a white belt too. Also, find a buddy. Everything is better with a friend or family member. Whether you meet someone at the studio itself or you bring someone along to try it out with you on your first day, someone taking the journey beside you makes it so much better!
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