Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I joined the American Taekwondo Association when I was fifteen. At that point I was a naive and struggling-with-anger kid. To this day I guess I still am kinda naive, but it doesn't matter 'cause I don't struggle with my anger anymore. I've learned discipline, patience, focus, and my stubbornness has increased by a lot in the last five years. I definitely wouldn't be the way I am now without it.

    I guess the major change happened when I immersed myself in learning a Bo Staff (or 'Jahng Bong' as we say in the A.T.A.) form that Noah Ringer made.
At the time he was a First Degree Black Belt, and a Texas State Champion. I had seen a video of him doing this form in front of a bunch of younger kids after finishing a Q&A session with the A.T.A. And of course, my jaw just dropped and I was amazed. Since the staff was my favorite close-combat weapon and I really looked up to this kid, words could barely describe how much I wanted to learn that form... so I did.
    Believe me, it wasn't that easy. Especially since I only had the one video, and I was left to judge myself on whether I did the techniques right. It took weeks, taking it a few moves at a time, staying after class every chance I got, and sometimes being watched from the desk by my instructors. After a while it became muscle memory.
    When I finally had it down, one of my instructors asked me to come in and show it to the junior (twelve and under) class kids. He said they needed motivation, and I loved doing it, so I agreed.

    Eventually I started teaching some of the adult students on my own.
Well, I'm not sure exactly what you'd call it. Spare-time tutoring maybe? Anyway, pretty much any random time I'm partnered with a friend (or in more recent events, my cousin) for warm-ups, drills, or little sparing matches, I've been known to hand out pointers now and again; usually with things like technique, how to make that front kick stronger, how to make that butterfly kick more fluid, some moves with the weapons, and a bunch of other things I can't remember off the top of my head.
    I think doing the staff form in front of those kids was another way of proving a point and setting an example, showing what they can be capable of. Especially since I earned my First Degree Black Belt at eighteen, I've emphasized and demonstrated the type of leadership I prefer following; by example.

(That's me sparring in the red and black gear)

I mean, think about it. When you lead people, no matter what the reason is, you're always trying to prove something to them. So what better way to do it than by example instead of just blind orders? You have to somehow (not always verbally) show them why you do what you do, or what you want them to do and why. Otherwise it doesn't make sense.

I've also kept in mind that you need to be sure of yourself the whole time too. If you don't quite believe in yourself enough (trust me, it does show, unless you're the best actor ever), then the people you're trying to motivate won't have confidence in you either. If you want to be a leader, then BE a leader.