Justin leading a class
-Justin Stephen TenEyck Age 14
When I was young, I don’t believe that I had the competence to realize how much martial arts was influencing my life. I had grown up learning that discipline, respect, integrity, and honesty are some of the most important things. I always made sure to respect my teachers, friends, and family, along with those who I had never even met. I believed in being disciplined and getting my work done timely. I think my greatest challenge among these things is honesty. Sometimes I find that it is very hard to be honest, and I believe that there are things that you don’t have to be honest about, but I try every day to be as honest and trustworthy as possible, because it is one of the most important things when it comes to developing relationships with others. But I think that there is more than just learning important character traits in being with martial arts.
Along with physical strength, I have gained technique from my forms and one steps. This enables me to be able to defend myself if I were to be attacked. Having solid technique allows you to plan your defense, which gives you the advantage in most cases. You also gain self control, which allows you to control yourself if you get physical with someone else. Taekwondo is not about killing, as it is about defense. You never want to finish your opponent.
Aside from all of this, I believe I have been taught very valuable lessons in character and inner strength. Taekwondo has allowed me to build character and confidence, but has also given me a great opportunity in physical education. On top of this, I have had the pleasure of meeting some great people and amazing instructors, including my current one, Master Mark Thibodeau. Not only has he taught me about disciplining my mind and body, but through my hard times, such as times when my spirit was wavering, he helped me understand that I have the power within myself and that my best is all that anyone could ever ask for.
Nearing 15 years of life now, I have spent most of my time in martial arts. I had been in Tangsoodo for about 6 years, and now I have been with Taekwondo for close to 4 years. So for all of my years I have spent in martial arts, I now have the choice to decide what I wish to do with it. I have many opportunities and other things available to me because of the path I have chosen here. It can influence my college applications, business applications, and even the way people view me.
As of now, I don’t plan on starting my own school in Taekwondo or martial arts. My future lies on more of a path of business and engineering, but that doesn’t mean I intend to stop being a martial artist. I wish to continue to stick with it and continue advancing. Each day I learn more knowledge from my instructors and my peers, making me a better person physically and mentally. I love getting the experience of teaching others things that I had once struggled with. To me, it is really fascinating watching others act out my previous mistakes, knowing exactly what I did wrong and what I had to do to correct it. Being given the opportunity to teach others is not only a social skill, but a skill in leadership. I take great pride in my work that I do when I walk into class. I always try my hardest and I go out of my way to help others with things they are struggling with or don’t quite grasp. It almost gives a sort of inner satisfaction when you are able to help someone pass a test, knowing that they themselves are growing as a individual.
In relation to this, I also find that I get a great physical benefit from Taekwondo as well. It keeps me in shape and allows me to balance myself in being healthy. A lot of the things we do in class on a weekly basis are actually quite rigorous, especially in the later classes. We tend to go through a lot of drills, stretches, and exercises, but then make time to work on key techniques like one-step sparring, or forms. I enjoy the variety that is given in each and every class, whether it is a variety in people, or a variety in the structure of the class schedule. Coming several times a week grants me the ability to touch base with each aspect of Taekwondo, keeping everything fresh in my mind. But in all truth, the physical gain from martial arts is actually quite immense. When you push yourself and give it your best, your muscles grow stronger, and your body becomes more durable and fit.
Because I am generally very busy on a daily basis, being it schoolwork, club activities, or other things, Taekwondo is one of my only outlets in getting a good physical workout. It is nice to have the time to set aside an hour to get a good stretch and practice in, so that way I don’t just sit at my computer all day absorbed in other things. I don’t really enjoy doing other sports like basketball, soccer, football, or baseball, mainly because they are generally competitive. Martial arts for me is much less competitive, in a sense that you work at your pace in some sense, and that you aren’t always out to beat the other person. Now Taekwondo does have a competitive aspect to it, which is sparring. For as long as I can remember, I was never really a fan of sparring. So if I were out to be a competitive player, then I would probably enjoy sparring a lot more. But I am much more for learning the techniques and proper stances, which is much more incorporated in forms and one-steps.
My memory generally serves me very well, which allows me to do well on forms and one-steps. When I spar, I never feel like there is much of a pattern to anything. I do though realize that sparring is almost like applying what you have learned. I see it’s value and importance that it prepares you for a real encounter or it gives you an idea of the kind of strength you would expect from a real attacker. But again, because I am not competitive, I don’t care for that sort of thing. I feel that as long as I am capable of having good strength and proper technique, that if I were to be faced with a dangerous situation, that I could be capable of handling myself accordingly.
To reiterate, Taekwondo has opened a lot of doors for me, and in the future, I plan to take advantage of a lot of it. There might be certain scholars or recommendations that could give me a boost, or maybe just the simple satisfaction that I can develop a better character. Though I might not want to pursue it as a career path or open a school of my own, I definitely wish to stick with it. As long as discipline and principles exist in my life, I will always trust martial arts, or more specifically Taekwondo, to guide my path.