Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Why I Want to Become a Black Belt - Peter Sheng

Why I Want to Become a Black Belt

A reason why I want to become a black belt is because it is a life accomplishment and a milestone. My mom said I should stick with karate and after trying it, I enjoyed it and continue to do karate. My friend from school was actually the one who recommended me to this place. Karate taught me to keep trying and not to give up. So far I have stuck with karate and I am glad I did. My goal was to become a black belt. Becoming a black belt means you are no longer an amateur and are experienced. People would not bully me if they knew I was a black belt. Becoming a black belt would make me feel accomplished and feel like I have something that I am good at. Karate is a sport that you can continue to do as you grow older. It helps protect you and your friends and makes you stronger physically and mentally. I have grown more disciplined doing the karate program and I have grown stronger physically. If I ever was having a bad day, after going to karate, my day would become 10 times better. I am not offended anymore when people call me names because the instructors playfully called me names. My temper was more controlled because I learned self-control during sparring. My respect for others has been shown a lot more now because in karate you must say yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, and no ma’am. I used to not be very respectful but after coming to karate I even say yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, and no ma’am at school now. Becoming a black belt means I can help teach the younger students and help them with anything. I used to not like to spar and would hope to not spar that day because I was sometimes put against really tough people but one day I realized I would have to do it if I wanted to be a black belt so I tried to have fun with it. I started laughing with friends during sparring and trying to make it more fun. I have learned that brute strength is not useful without skill and technique. Technique is very important when board breaking. During testing I have always been nervous about board breaking and got the butterflies, but it has turned out to be not that bad. The sparring has always worn me out the most, while the form has been the most nerve-racking since it is the beginning of testing. During testing week I would usually come for often than usual. This helped me prepare for testing. I have made many close friends from attending karate. Karate has made my life full of happiness and I enjoy every day. I have discovered more about myself like that I used to not be respectful. I wish that I had started karate earlier so I could have enjoyed this earlier.

By: Peter Sheng

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ken Pecoraro - Black Belt Essay

Why I want to be a Black Belt


Ken Pecoraro

Three years ago, when I started bringing my boys to Strickland’s Taekwondo, I was reminded of my first experience in martial arts. I was 25 years old, in the United States Navy flight school, and the base was offering an introduction to taekwondo. Being a Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan fan, I thought I could become one of them, so I gave it a shot. I was hooked! After my first class, I went straight home to demonstrate my newly perfected sliding sidekick to my roommates. Well, my perfectly executed kick placed my little toe completely around the door jam, breaking it in two places. So, after losing two weeks of flight training, I hung up my barely used white belt for the next 30 years!

I walked into my first class with Mr. Strickland partially expecting a little attitude. Kind of a " hey, what's this fat old man trying to do now". What I got was an encouraging "you can do it attitude". Always helpful, always motivating. Not only from Mr. Strickland, but all instructors, seniors and peers. For almost two years I have been learning kicks, punches, forms, weapons, flexibility, and most of all, discipline. And then there is sparring! Shoot, I haven't been in a fight since 6th grade. It was hard to have a name that was so easily transmogrified into "Peckerhead" at that age, at that time. But I digress. Simply put, sparring has become my favorite part of class now that I am learning control. Now if I could only beat Bill Reaves in a tournament...

So, it started with Ki-Bon, or “The Beginning”, and from then on, it has been my goal to earn my Black belt. Now, it may be hard to believe that I have ADD, or “hyperactivity” as it was called in my youth, but I have the many, many unfinished projects around the house to prove it. But this is different. Much like joining the Corps of Cadets while at Texas A&M, Parachute School in the Army, Flight school in the Navy, and becoming an airline pilot, this is something I just will not quit! I think it has something to do with the tenants of taekwondo, they all mean something – fundamental traits that are vital in order to live a happy, successful and fulfilling life:

Courtesy, or Ye-Ui: This is self-explanatory - treat others, as you want to be treated.

Integrity or Yom-Chi: Be honest with yourself and others.

Perseverance or In-Nae: Never Quit, Don’t give up.

Self Control or Guk-Gi: A tough one for me in the beginning, but experience is helping. It encompasses not only controlling one’s emotions, but one’s precision and force as well.

Indomitable Spirit or Baekjul-bool Gool: Simply put, an unshakeable belief system that one will go to extraordinary lengths in order to defend.

To sum it all up, there are many reasons why I want to be a Black Belt, but it all comes down to one word – Pride. I want to walk tall knowing that I have accomplished something special. I want my name on my black belt and my mane on my Gi!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Erika Henderson - Confidence Essay

Erika Henderson
June 6, 2015

            From move-in day to the last final exam, confidence became something I had to obtain to prove to myself that I am strong enough to be who I really am in college. My name is Erika Henderson and I am a second degree decided black belt at Strickland’s Taekwondo. I have just finished my first year in college and I am proud to say that I had a successful year. I’m a two-sport collegiate athlete at the University of the Ozarks in small town Clarksville, AR. I was recruited to play softball, as well as offered to
run cross-country. It has always been my dream as a little girl to play softball at the big college level. People tell me that I look strong and confident up at bat or when I make that play in the outfield. But really, I’m not exactly the most confident person in my head. Outside of softball, taekwondo, or cross-country, I’m really just that shy girl that tries so hard to fit in and be successful. I’m too afraid of making mistakes and that is one of my biggest problems. I was put in an environment where I had to make sudden or difficult choices, and where confidence in myself had to
be put to the test. Unfortunately, I have been in situations during my first year where I have made bad decisions, decisions I regret and I can’t take them back. There have also been situations I’ve been in where I did not have control and was not strong enough in myself to overcome the situation. I was never warned that anything can happen to anyone in college. I learned that the hard way. In college, you don’t have your mom’s shoulder to cry on, you don’t have your dad’s hand to hold, but what you do have is your confidence to achieve the difficult. The point is that college is a scary place, or at least you can make it that way. Confidence does not happen overnight, it is a constant build of ups and downs throughout life. Sports are a great example of life. I’ve been through
the heart ache of sitting the bench, tears, and being yelled at because I “wasn’t good enough”. I realize now that my problem wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t good enough, my confidence was just hidden. My dad always told me that I have the athletic ability to be an amazing softball player, but confidence is the true key to show that inner beast inside. I brought those words into my college career and with those words I started every game and had the second highest RBI record of my team at Ozarks. Sports are just one of many examples of how confidence can be hidden the most or the most shown. That fact of it all, a growing adult can lose their focus of who they really are because their confidence was lost. There were times I forgot who I was in my first year. I forgot that I was a second degree black belt, a great softball player and cross-country runner who have been through years and years of blood, sweat, and a lot of tears. With my first year under me, I’ve seen it all, heard
it all, and been through it all. I’m ready now with what lies ahead of my future and ready to learn more on how to become a confident adult. With confidence, you can dig deep and find that inner strength in you, that inner beast that’s wanting to come out. When you feel like giving up is the only option, force yourself to keep fighting because that is truly who are. When you look at yourself in the mirror, who do you see? How do others want to see you? Whatever you tell yourself, that is who you will really become. It all starts with you and what you say in your head. In just eight months of being at the University of the Ozarks, I have grown into a stronger woman, a woman who has gained her confidence, and a woman who is not afraid anymore to become her true self. 

Of course, I could have never found myself or learned how to be a stronger person without the help of my incredible Taekwondo instructor, Mr. Strickland. I couldn’t be more thankful to learn from the best. Most of my taekwondo experience has been a series of ups and downs, but the words that come from Mr. Strickland are beyond helpful in any life experiences. I give my hugest thank you to Mr. Strickland. I don’t think I would be any stronger, physically and mentally, if I have never met him. It is a privilege to learn from him and I am so thankful to be a part of Strickland’s Taekwondo.