"What I have learned from Master Cook is how long and how hard it is to learn the basics and how technique is so critical. This is when practice and perseverance play a significant role in learning the art. What also helps me persevere is that it takes skillful people to run a school like this. It is the dedication that I see from the instructors that motivates me to keep coming back to class." John Towey - 1st Dan Black Belt
"As I look back upon my life as a martial artist, I think about my first obstacle, the staircase. The steepest staircase I have ever seen. I huffed an puffed to the top wearing my brand new white Dobok, I was very excited and hoped the staircase would be the biggest obstacle I would have to face. I couldn't have been more wrong." Fiona Dunn - 1st Dan Black Belt
"One of my most happy moments was at my Dodan belt test. I needed to do a spinning hook kick for my break. I was very worried that it would take many tries, but I ended up breaking the wood on my very first try. I felt so proud of myself. This is now my favorite kick. One of my most challenging moments was when I switched from KickStart to the regular class. It was scary because there were so many people I did not know and many students were better than me. Anika Simon - 1st Dan Black Belt
"In 1st grade, I was asked to join the Leadership Team. I like to help people and the Leadership Team does that. For example, I helped customers find books at the Book & Bake Sale event, set tables at the Community Kitchen event and collected and rolled coins to purchase gifts to help families during the holidays, and planted flowers and pulled weeds at the Town Park Gazebo Gardening." Francesco Desiderio - 1st Dan Black Belt
"Another thing I think about my training in Taekwondo is how the different instructors have helped me. I feel instructor Pyke always looks out for me and has also helped me with private lessons. Instructor Klugman helped stop my habit of hopping forward after a stepping basic. Master Cook helped me in all parts of Taekwondo!" Caswell Gluckstein - 1st Dan Black Belt
"I love Taekwondo whether it's practicing it, watching it, or just thinking about it. Whenever I walk into the dojang I am ready to train. I am welcomed by all of the black belts and I bow to them. Then Master Cook says next class and we all walk out onto the floor and we have an amazing class with meditation and focused training. I know that I will stick to the martial arts for probably the rest of my life, thanks to Master Cook. " Nelson Gaillard - 1st Dan Black Belt
"I have truly enjoyed this time as a bodan. It has given me a chance to review and work on various techniques that always seem to take a back seat to learning the new curriculum. In fact, it's only been in the last two months that I have finally felt that I had somewhat of a handle on everthing in the curriculum. I'm not saying that things don't need work but I've started to develop confidence in myself. I know with continued training that I will improve. My balance is better and I have physically gotten stronger. In fact, there must be something that has changed in my personal demeanor because in the high school where I teach, I have noticed that I have less trouble with students doing what I ask them to do. Suddenly during training this past week, when I ki-hap, I feel the energy resonating through me. Body, mind and energy (spirit) have aligned. I believe that I am finally ready to begin my journey as black belt." Carolyn Cunningham - 1st Dan Balck Belt
Overall, the benefits of my taekwondo training up to this point in time has been amazing and I would not sacrifice it for anything. From a physical standpoint, taekwondo has made me more coordinated, agile, and conditioned. Mentally, taekwondo has taught me patience, understanding, empathy, and self- control. Spiritually, taekwondo has provided me with a moral compass with which to live my life. It has taught me to embrace the duality of opposites within the universe and to enjoy both the peaks and valleys that one will experience in their life. In closing, my taekwondo training up to this point has been poignant and unforgettable and I look forward to the new challenges and knowledge that await me as a black belt." Shane Heslin - 1st Dan Black Belt
"At our first test it dawned on us that there was a group of adults all testing for yellow belt. We became a crew of sorts looking for each other in the evenings and encouraging each other to continue. Even at green belt, we were labeled "gang green" and Master Cook told us to try and ascend the ranks staying together.
On the day of each belt test, we took a picture of ourselves before the test, often with Master Cook if we could, to mark our progression; like a child using a pencil to tick off his height in a door jam after each season. I kept all of my belts in a row in my bedroom so I could visually see our advancement through the ranks and I could recall each test and its challenges. It was very satisfying.
A pivotal moment for us was the journey we made with the school to study in Korea in the summer of 2012. We were purple belts, right at the mid-point of our training. We could not believe that when we went into these schools on the other side of the earth, and the Master called out a command in Korean, that we knew exactly what to do! One experience in particular was very rewarding for me. There were only 3 colored belts on the trip, and we were all purple. When we went to study with Grand Master Kyu-hyun Lee, he assigned a black belt to work with each of us privately on our forms. The woman who partnered with me spoke no English, yet we trained together and communicated for a few hours. Even today, Taeguk Oh Jang is still my favorite form, as it reminds me of that day out in the countryside, learning from my very own private Korean coach". Laura Towey - 1st Dan Black Belt
"I must take some time to explain how increasingly rare it is to find a martial arts school that is teaching a traditional martial art. In my many searches for a martial arts school, I discovered that, due to economic necessity, most schools are forced to cater to the trends of the day, i.e. sport Taekwondo and mixed martial arts. Many schools dropped basic formalities, trained wearing t-shirts, and lacked any serious discipline. This, inevitably, will dilute and water down the traditional practice of any martial art and can easily result in a very dangerous environment." Jason Gaillard - 1st Dan Black Belt
Written by Edison Chau
Taekwondo has been with me for 2 years and I have enjoyed every minute in class. I have learned many things in Taekwondo, not just kicks and punches but also self-discipline and perseverance. Taekwondo has helped me in both mind and body, making me stronger, more confident, giving me more work ethic and making me more serious with everything. When I first started Taekwondo I thought it was going to be just a fun thing to do but it became harder and more serious the higher belt I got. I expected the road to a black belt would be easy and trouble free but as I got higher up in the ranks I learned that was not the case, I have never worked so hard to try and achieve something before. Taekwondo has had a giant impact on my life, making me better in everything I do.
Before I started Taekwondo I always gave up, in school or at home I was always like that, until Taekwondo taught me the trait of perseverance and integrity. Taekwondo taught me I had to have perseverance, I had to never give up because if I did I would never reach a black belt. Taekwondo also taught me how to respect others and be respectful around them, no matter the situation. I believe that is the part of me that was missing, I would sometimes get mad and hate the person I respected most, and that made me disappointed in myself. I have Taekwondo to thank for teaching me those pieces I was missing.
Before I started Taekwondo I had average grades, a B and occasionally an A. after I started Taekwondo I learned to not give up and to always respect others so I began to get better and better at my school work. soon I got all A’s and was top of my class, it was the happiest I ever was in a while because my mom kept complimenting my good work. after a while I tested into a gifted and talented program and got in! this was all because of Taekwondo teaching me all I needed to know for life and my supportive teachers, from Taekwondo and from school.
Taekwondo also helped me physically, it made me stronger and more flexible. at first I was enrolled in Taekwondo because I needed to defend myself, but it became a lot more than that. it became a hobby, keeping me preoccupied and happy at the same time. it meant a lot to go to Taekwondo, it gave me a workout, it stimulated my mind, it kept me happy and I learned new things. it was like a wonderful bundle of things to do that I loved.
Taekwondo has made me understand the meaning of perseverance, courtesy, self-control, integrity and indomitable spirit. Taekwondo has also taught me all those traits that are needed for a better life. I have learned all those important traits because while practicing Taekwondo you have to have all those traits and use them, while kicking you persevere even if you missed or you didn't have enough power, you keep on going. you have to respect others and control your emotions. Taekwondo has taught me that I have to have all these traits to have a successful mind and a strong body. Taekwondo has taught me about self-esteem and how it is important. without confidence you can't do much of anything, you have to face your fears. if your testing you have to believe you will pass it and people will see that you are ready and confident of your ability.
The reasons I love Taekwondo so much is because of my nice masters and instructors, and the work they make me do. they make us do hard exercises but it is for my own good it makes me stronger or it enhances my skills or my knowledge of the tenets. I also love Taekwondo because of its graceful yet powerful moves and attacks. Taekwondo has brought a lot of things in my life, good life lessons, strength and most of all trusted friends. Taekwondo has given me friends that I trust. in fact the reason I wanted to learn martial arts was because of a friend in my school.
Taekwondo has also made me a more responsible person, it has taught me I have to get everywhere early. Taekwondo has taught me that if you are responsible and people know you are, people will respect you. to be a black belt means you are the highest rank. everybody else looks up to you so you have to be very responsible, you can't play around and if you do you won't be respected and other lower belts would think “why can't I be a black belt? im better and more concentrated them him!” so to keep your reputation and respect as a black belt you have to be responsible. responsibility is one of the most important traits while doing Taekwondo and Taekwondo has taught me how to master it.
Black belts need to be open-minded and they need to accept and be flexible with any changes or adapt to them. this is a trait everybody should learn, not just black belts but black belts learn it naturally because they have to. if they are stubborn and always want it their way then nobody would like or respect them.
As a poom belt I know that being a black belt will be tough, already being a poom belt is hard enough but I have to take the trait I learned in Taekwondo, perseverance and keep on going. I need to work hard to get a black belt and when I become one I feel that my journey will be complete, but I know that is not the case. I know I have to keep practicing Taekwondo and keep practicing the traits Taekwondo has taught me. that is when I truly know my journey is complete.