Starting at the beginning of January, we will be adding 2 new classes to our weekly schedule. At 7pm Tuesdays and Thursdays there will be classes open to all students currently enrolled in the Youth and Adult programs. Tuesdays will be weapons training and tournament/testing prep. If you've ever wanted to learn a weapons form, either for testing or a tournament, this class is for you. The options are: single and double ssahng jeol bong (nunchucks), double ssahng nat (sickles), and single bahng mahng ee (stick). Please note that you must have your own weapons if you wish to train with them.
In this class we will also help students prepare for upcoming tournaments and testings by carefully reviewing forms, helping students testing for black belt to re-learn all color belt forms, and working with anyone that feels they need a little extra help. If you wish to make up classes you missed due to illness or vacation, you can also come at this time to get caught up on your material.
Thursdays at 7pm will be sparring classes. We will practice classroom sparring (with different partners than you are used to), as well as tournament sparring (point sparring). All students (ages 7-Adult) who have sparring gear are welcome to attend. If you are new to sparring, this is a great opportunity to learn from students who have many years of experience. All contact is light and full sparring gear (including a mouthpiece and cup) are required.
The first day of this new schedule will be Tuesday, January 3.
We hope to see you all there!
Every year since we opened, we look forward to the month of October, when our Halloween decorations go up, and on Halloween night, when we get to see our students and community members in all their costumed glory. This year was no exception. Enjoy our Halloween slideshow!
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!
We often get calls from women who want to train in the martial arts, but are very apprehensive because of the misconception that taekwondo is just for kids and men. Sadly, many of these women have had the experience of going to another school and being made to feel unwelcome and in some instances actually injured by students and instructors who are blatantly sexist. Their loss is our gain.
We snapped this photo after a recent adult class where the only students who made it to class on Saturday morning were the women. Most of these ladies are moms, some are high powered executives, and all of them are super tough! If you've ever thought about trying taekwondo, but tell yourself that you are too ________ (old, stiff, or whatever excuse comes to mind), we're here to tell you that you are wrong. A year from now, you will only regret that you didn't get started sooner. Check out our class schedule and book your first class today!!!
This past Saturday our school took part in a regional tournament in Santa Rosa. Even though there were hundreds of competitors and dozens of divisions, our students managed to place in almost every one of their rings. We are so proud of them and all their hard work.
In addition to the students pictured above, we'd like to congratulate Alex Guthrie (1st degree black belt), AJ (1st degree black belt) and Angelo Hibbert (State Champion for 2016 and a red belt) who placed 1st in both traditional sparring and combat weapons sparring, and Catia Claburn (3rd degree black belt) who placed 1st in sparring. As a funny side note, Catia has been training with us since she was 4 years old, and she has finally stopped apologizing to people when she kicks them in the head--she is the sweetest sparring champ ever!
The next tournament in our region is on November 15, and it too is in Santa Rosa. We hope to see many more of our students compete!
A few days ago, we saw a man taking pictures of our school. "I bet he's a Korean tourist" I remarked to Master Navarrete. We were not yet open for the day, and were curious as to what exactly was so interesting, so we went outside to ask him.
Although we had a bit of a language barrier, we found out that he was a taekwondo instructor visiting from Korea, and was SO excited to see a taekwondo studio. He asked if he could come and watch a class, to which we of course said yes, and sure enough, he came in just as our Tiny Tigers were lining up. We learned that his name is Master Jino Yu and he is a 4th degree black belt in taekwondo. He shared with us pictures from his school (he has 450 students!) and was an absolute sweetheart with the kids. He helped the little ones tie their belts correctly and then knelt down and shook every student's hand. Seeing a high ranking Korean Black Belt show so much modesty and displaying the virtues of respect and community that we as martial artists value, was wonderful for our students to experience.
We assumed that being here on vacation, he would watch for a few minutes and then go on his way, but much to our surprise, he stayed from 3pm until 8pm, watching every single class we taught and taking pictures and videos to show to students and friends back home. It was neat to meet a total stranger from the other side of the globe, purely by chance, and to have this instant connection because of taekwondo. We hope that Mr Yu enjoys the rest of his trip in the U.S. and that next time he comes stateside that he looks us up.
If you've had a similar experience either at a taekwondo event or just out on the street, we'd love to hear about it. Please share in the comments section below.
Since 2009, Navarrete's Black Belt Academy has had an annual summer trip to Raging Waters in San Jose. It's fun to see all our students outside the taekwondo studio, and it's our opportunity to get to know our families better--plus we get to go on some pretty awesome water slides!
This year was no exception. To make sure that everyone was able to attend, we hosted a school-wide garage sale fundraiser back in July. Thanks to all our generous students and their families, we raised almost $1000!
Here is a throwback picture from our 2011 trip. Can you believe these girls are all in high school now? It's crazy how fast time flies...
If you have some pictures from Raging Waters 2016 or years past, we'd love to see them. Please feel free to add them in a comment, and I will post them to this blog.
While we've enjoyed our waterpark trips immensely, next year, we have our sights set on something a bit bigger. We are hoping to host a weekend camp in the Westminster Woods in Occidental. This will give us the opportunity to practice some taekwondo, go swimming and hiking, and come together around the campfire. If you have any suggestions about what you'd like to do for fun events outside the studio, we're all ears! It's the little extras that make our taekwondo community truly feel like a family.