On Saturday October 15 we had a belt testing and are pleased to announce that 2 of our students who started out as taekwondo moms (their kids are all black belts) finally earned the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt. It's really tough for adults to start anything new, much less stick with it, so congrats to these 2 ladies for demonstrating perseverance and dedication. Donna Boyer (right) and Karina Bekemeier (left), Black Belts and super cool moms!
As part of our black belt testing requirements, students must write an essay which they read at testing about what being a black belt means to them. This is our favorite part of black belt testing. Every student has something different to say, and it's so heartening to know how much taekwondo means to them. While all of they essays are amazing, I've chosen to highlight the fascinating journey that Karina Bekemeier shared in her essay, which is included below.
When I was a little girl I never wanted to be a princess, I just wanted to run fast and fight for justice. I wanted to be a super hero. But I also wanted to be a ballerina.
Well I never got be either of those. My whole life has been a combination of both feelings of super strength and fragility.
Growing up during the worst time of terrorism in Peru and having two very strict parents I had to learn to be tough. But it wasn’t easy.
I’m a 92 pound, 4.10” small woman that grew up in a society that constantly told me to watch and learn to clean and cook so I can take care of my husband when I grew up. Fortunately, my father always told me to study and to get a career so that I can be independent. I did listen to my dad, but things weren’t that simple.
Being a woman in this world is not easy. We have to fight harder to get the jobs that we want, to get the respect that we deserve and we have to learn to stand up for ourselves with fear of being harassed for it.
Doing taekwondo has brought my childhood fantasies of superhero back. It’s fun to kick and punch and break boards. But it’s much more than that. Being a black belt means that no matter how big or small you are, you can do it. We can all work with our individual strengths and overcome our weaknesses and fears.
It means we can walk through life with our heads up a little higher and do always what’s right for ourselves and the people around us.
I want to give special thanks to my children for being my inspiration, you are amazing! I want to thank my friend Donna for convincing me to do this and for the years of fun together in class and thanks to my other mama friends that joined a little after, it has been a pleasure.
Thank you Jim so much for supporting me on this, for being early home from work to kick me out the door to come to class because you knew that even though I was exhausted, coming here would make me happy.
Thank you so much to you Master and Mrs. Navarrete for being such dedicated great teachers, and not only that but also friends to rely on.
I want to end with a quote from Dr. Seuss that I bumped into recently:
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out”.
This past Saturday we had our annual Train with the Masters Event in the East Bay. Students from all over California and Nevada came out for a day of training and fun, and the opportunity to learn from all the highest ranking Masters in our region.
Our students learned advanced kicking techniques, knife defense, joint locks, jiu jitsu, and weapons training. There were kids as young as 6 and adults as old as 70 out there on the mat all demonstrating their dedication and love of taekwondo. We are SO proud of all our students who attended. Not only did they work super hard, but they showed tremendous discipline, respect, and enthusiasm throughout the entire day. We always hope that the life skills we teach will persist beyond the walls of our studio, and indeed every time I checked, these kids were behaving even better than we could have hoped for.
I also have to give a shout out to the parents who got up at the crack of dawn to get their kids to Martinez and then stayed there all day watching and supporting them. On this note, we are very excited to announce that next year, the Masters are going to offer a special segment of training just for parents who don't do taekwondo (yet). They are still working out the details, but parents will learn some basic but highly effective self-defense techniques, and get to experience first hand what a great full body workout taekwondo can be. We hope to see a whole squad of moms and dad out there next year!
If you have photos or memories from the Train with the Masters event from this year or years past, we would love to hear from you! Please post them in the comments section below.
We can't wait to see everyone at next year's event!