Martial Arts School Review in the Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Marysville area

Austin Moore

My name is Austin Moore and this is what receiving my black belt means to me
Tae kwon do is my favorite sport to watch and do.

One of the reasons I like it so much is because it not only teaches self defense, it also teaches you respect and appreciation for other people.

Another reason is because it builds friendships. Tae Kwon Do sets you off on a journey that you can’t possibly compare to mostly anything.
The white through Sr. red belts are testing you to see if you are worthy of a black belt. They are like the foundation and when you get your black belt, it’s like you build layers and when you get your last degree of black belt, you put the roof on and live your life in a good and responsible way.

I would not trade anything my instructor (Master Shin) has taught me. Master shin is a respectful man but he`s not what this essay is about. I enjoy going to Tae Kwon Do. I almost daily ask my dad if we can go to Tae Kwon Do.
Personally, my favorite part about it are the forms. I love how people put a bunch of moves together to make them.
I also like knife defense. It’s fun. The third one is my personal favorite. Punching and kicking defenses are nice too, but nothing is better than the forms. I may have said it before, but I love the way they put a bunch of moves together to make them.

I made a commitment when I was about five to get my black belt and now I’m ready to reach that goal.
I appreciate my parents for using their time and money so I can have fun physical education and learn martial arts. Tae kwon do builds muscles and makes me a strong man.

THIS IS WHAT GETTING A BLACK BELT MEANS TO ME.

Austin Moore Black Belt Essay                               September 2009


Sarah Kaye

At the ripe old age of six, with four years of gymnastics behind me, my parents thought Tae Kwon Do would be good for my strength, coordination, discipline, confidence, and self defense. I had previously tried and considered soccer, swimming, diving, ballet, and cheer but I found I was more interested in Tae Kwon Do. I worked very hard taking classes 2 to 4 times per week in Arizona and wasn’t far away from testing for my Black Belt.  I knew 14 forms and many different breaking, punching, and rolling techniques. Unfortunately my family moved to Washington and I really wanted to continue Tae Kwon Do to pursue my dream of becoming a black belt.  Master Mark, from Arizona told us before we moved that my brother and I would have to start at white belt again, as it was customary and respectful.  Once my family settled in Lake Stevens my mom looked around to see what martial arts studios there were.  She found a very good Do Jang called Tigers Black Belt Academy.  She took my brother and I to the Do Jang to meet Master Shin.  Although I started at the beginning (white belt) I saw it as an opportunity to learn something new with a good four year foundation from Master Mark in Arizona.

Tigers Black Belt was a new Do Jang in Lake Stevens and my brother and I were able to benefit from many, many hours of one-on-one attention from Master Shin. I credit my early years with Master Shin on where I am today. The standards that he upheld for my brother and I were very, very high and as a result we have been great leaders at Tigers. Not only has Master Shin taught me amazing Tae Kwon Do, he has taught me to become a better person.

Tae Kwon do has taught me the importance of appreciation, respect, friendship, integrity, honor, discipline, and confidence.  One of the things Master Shin has done that I believe to be extremely important is our discussion times.  I have been able to learn different perspectives from my fellow students because they share their ideas and experiences on the various topics at testing. My ideas are very thorough and thought out before testing because my whole family discusses and elaborates on the topic, so we have a clearer perspective on everything. Understanding the topics has really helped with real life experiences like respecting and appreciating my amazing parents, and being a good supportive friend.

Appreciation is an important characteristic that every black belt candidate should know well.  Gratitude and thankful recognition is something that is discussed frequently at the Do Jang.  These discussions have reinforced my understanding and commitment to what I do.  I appreciate my family for the numerous hours they have spent taking me to my activities and for the money they have spent.  I appreciate my fellow students for all the different perspectives they have brought to the Do Jang and I very much appreciate Master Shin because he is someone I look up to for his knowledge, character and confidence, honor, integrity and the discipline he instills in us.

Respecting others and oneself is something that is learned over time. Respect is a big point Master Shin wants us to understand in depth; he mentions respect more then anything because of its importance. The way I respect myself is taking care of my body and mind to keep it in a healthy state. When I am considerate, honest, and having integrity towards another person I am respecting them. Listening, following, and leading when amongst my fellow class mates is also a form of respect. Treating people kindly and well is important because it shows I am a good hearted black belt candidate. I believe respect is like the golden rule,?Treat others the way you want to be treated.?

My confidence has grown throughout my years of being a Tae Kwon Do student. I do believe being arrogant is wrong because it can makes people irritated by you so I present my confidence by being proud of everything I do and performing intuitively! Because I am confident I can also present myself as a leader at the Do Jang among my fellow students! I work hard to make sure that I do not intimidate my fellow students, and use my confidence in an encouraging way!  The experience of working with the younger kids is so rewarding as they truly look up to us higher rank belts and I really believe I set a very good example of what a black belt should be.

I have also been taught falling, breaking, rolling, sparing, grabbing, punching, and kicking techniques by Master Shin! Master Shin teaches us these various techniques only for self defense and to further increase our knowledge of Korean martial arts. Most of all I enjoy learning all the forms because then I get to work hard perfecting them at home and during Tae Kwon Do practices. One advantage I have over some students is my flexibility and strength that I developed from being a competitive level seven gymnast!

My bother Andrew Kaye is the single most important person that keeps me focused on my goal of becoming a black belt! He pushes me to my potential and I do the same for him. Even though I am the one constantly reminding him how to do everything when it comes to testing, I still sometimes have to rely on him to make sure I am doing everything right myself, which boosts both our confidences. It is really special for me to share something so important in my life with him. Tae kwon do has always been something we have worked through together. Without him I don? think there would ever be a black belt around my waist. Becoming black belts together is such a big experience for us to go through together which makes our bond even greater! We never could have done this without each other or our parents support!

I signed a contract with Master Shin where I agreed I would become a Black Belt at Tigers Black Belt. Having signed this contract really helped me keep my mind set on my goal because everyday I go to Tae Kwon Do I see my black belt hanging proudly on the wall with my name on it for everyone to see! Black belt club also allowed me to go to unlimited classes so I  can further enhance my knowledge of Tae Kwon Do. I wear a blue uniform so I can show my commitment to Tigers and for people know I am a leader they can turn to if they are in need of help.

My biggest challenges in the process of becoming a black belt includes managing my time, injuries, my brother, and being patient. Tae Kwon Do and gymnastics are the two sports that I am most passionate about, and I have not wanted to sacrifice one for the other as I would not be able to choose.  As a result of committing to the two time demanding sports, I have had to learn to be a very good manager of my time.  I am always struggling with balancing them both as school comes first and then that leaves only so many hours left in a day.  They are occupied fully with my sports activities.  I have managed to do both and most importantly maintain a straight A grade point average in school. In addition, I have accelerated in Math and have been placed in Advanced classes.  I have had to sacrifice any social life with school friends and my sporting activities have filled that void.  The friends I have made at gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do will be friends I have for life.  Although I have not been injured as a result of Tae Kwon Do, I did have a serious ankle injury as a result of gymnastics.  This has ultimately affected both sports.  This has added additional pressure to keep up with the Tae Kwon do curriculum.  My brother has been a great asset in ensuring I stay abreast of the things I need to know.  On the flip side, he has been a challenge because he is not like me and preparing for testing with him is a struggle.  This has been difficult but taught me a lot about different personality types and learning how to deal with individuals that are not as focused or motivated as me.  Having patience is a key factor in my Tae Kwon Do success.  There has been many times where I get very frustrated because I want to do more and learn more quickly and want the pace to be faster.  This is where patience has become very, very important.  I have had to learn that sometimes you just have to go with the flow of the situation.

Ever since I was little girl my parents have taught me about the importance of following through with my commitments and setting and reaching my goals.  I have always reached my goals because I set my mind to it, don? give up, and remember what I have been taught. Tae Kwon Do has reinforced this as well.  Becoming a black belt is something I refuse to give up on no matter how hard it is. I believe my self motivation, years of hard work, and being prepared will get me my black belt!

The Black Belt contains all colors signifying the deepest and most dense knowledge, the accumulation of all preceding levels. Everything I have been through in my Tae Kwon Do career with Master Shin has prepared me for my black belt and has helped me realize the meaning of becoming a black belt. A black belt is a whole new level and start of Tae Kwon Do where I can learn more advanced techniques and continue becoming a better person!

Sarah Kaye      Black Belt Essay                                                    August 2009


Andrew Kaye

I started Martial Arts when I lived in Arizona when I was 4 years old.  I used to watch my sister do martial arts because I wasn’t old enough.  I used to stand at the side and copy what she was doing during her class.  Master Mark saw I was very interested and asked if I wanted to do martial arts even though I was not old enough.  He made a special exception.  When I first started I was not very focused. As more time passed I became more focused.  I worked hard and before I knew it I was 3 belts away from Black.  The order of the belts were, white, yellow, green, blue, purple, orange, red, brown, black.  I was an orange belt with  3 red stripes and I was getting ready to test for red.  I was 6 when I moved.  I knew 9 patterns and many styles of kicks, punches and diving techniques.  Master Mark taught me to always be ready.

When I was 6 my family moved to Washington state.   My mom found us a new martial arts studio and my sister and I talked with the owner and made a commitment with the owner, Master Shin to do Tae Kwon do with him.  It was a brand new Do Jang called Tigers Black Belt Academy.  We were his first students.  His Do Jang smelled like new mats.  Sadly I had to start at a white belt but it was okay because I learned even more.

We got so much attention from Master Shin we were always very well prepared for our testing. About a year after doing Tae Kwon Do at Tigers, we made a commitment to Master Shin to become Black Belts and signed a contract.  What keeps me inspired and focused is seeing a Black Belt hanging on the wall with my  name on it in the Do Jang.  I see it every time I go to practice.  It reminds me of when I first started martial arts in Arizona and how far I have come.

Two years into Tae Kwon Do and Master Shin introduced Pal Gwe forms and we had to learn an additional 3-4 forms. This was very hard but I was able to learn them.  Another challenge for me has been keeping up with Tae Kwon Do classes and my other sports.

Even though I like to do other sports I still do Tae Kwon do because the commitment I made is very important to me.  I have learned so much and taken so long I want to reach my goal.  Master Shin has taught me about the importance of commitment, leadership, and  confidence.  I have learned that if I really want something I can do it.

I appreciate so many things and Master Shin has taken me so far in martial arts and I have learned so much.  I appreciate how much passion Master Shin puts into his Tae Kwon do teachings.  I appreciate all the time he spends with us to help us achieve our goal of getting a black belt. I also appreciate my Mom and Dad because of the love and encouragement they give me to achieve my goals, all the driving they have done and for the money it takes.  Without them, I wouldn’t be able to Tae Kwon do or any of my other sports.  I also appreciate my sister Sarah.  When it comes to testing she helps me so much.  I am so lucky to be able to do Tae Kwon do with her.

I want to become a black belt so I can be happy for achieving something hard to get, it will be a huge accomplishment for me.  It is a great feeling to know I started something this hard and finished it at such a young age. Once I become a black belt I am looking forward to learning more advanced techniques and helping others.

One of the best things about Tae Kwon do is being able it to do it with my sister and getting to know great people like Austin, Logan, Chase and Amadeus and all the others at Tigers.  The confidence I have learned has been amazing.  I never thought I could be so focused during competitions.  I remember my very first competition and how hard it was and how nervous I was.  I was able to get my focus and inner strength to win the gold medal.  Every time I did a competition I was less nervous.  Tae Kwon do has helped me overcome this.

My parents have taught me about appreciation and how important it is and Master Shin has also helped me to understand more about it.  Like appreciate how much money my parents put into my Tae Kwon do so I can achieve my goal.  I appreciate the amount of care my parents put into my life.  Every week before testing my sister helps me study and practice my Tae Kwon Do so I can do well, I really appreciate her help.  I appreciate Logan and how he helps me and of course Master Shin.  My parents make many sacrifices for my sister and I, so many I probably don? even realize, but this I very much appreciate.

Respect and consideration are two other important things Master Shin has helped me with.  I have learned that respect isn? just something that you get, it is something that you earn.  So that is why it is important to treat others how you want to be treated.  It is also important to be considerate of other people.  I like to do nice things for other people because it makes them happy and even more important is it makes me happy and warm inside.

Friendships is something else that I have learned more about because of Tae Kwon do.  What is friendship to me?   Being a friend means always being honest, always tell the truth and being there when they need you.  A friend is a good listener, someone who has similar interests and likes me because I am me and I like them because they are themselves.  Honesty I think is one of the most important qualities a person should have.  Honesty means you can trust because the person does not lie.

Tae Kwon Do has taught be me about the importance of community. Not just our Tigers family but the community we live in.  One thing in the community that Tigers does is car washes.  We get to make cool signs and wash cars for fun.  We raise money for our special events. I have participated in the Aquafest parade in Lake Stevens for 3 years.

Becoming a black belt has been one of the most difficult accomplishments in my life.  My training has taught me so many things about appreciation, respect of family and others, friendship, integrity, honor, confidence , sense of community and discipline.  Tae Kwon Do has helped me build character within the mind, body and spirit.  It has taught me that things I really want to do, do not come easy.  Sometimes it is a struggle to do the right thing but  I always remember that life isn’t meant to be easy.  Being a black belt means helping others and setting the best example I can for other students and the community.

Andrew Kaye   Black Belt Essay                                                  July 31, 2009


Levi Berger

For the past three years I have been a member of Tigers Black Belt Academy in Lake Stevens Washington. Before those three years started it never pop up into my mind to get up on a Tuesday evening and go to a Tae Kwon Do Do Jang and working out while learning different self defense techniques, but as those three years go by I saw myself change not just physically but mentally as well.
Before my mental training started in tae kwon do, I would always get annoyed at the littlest things, get mad just because somebody pushed me in the hall of where I go or went to school. But when I started to interact with the people at Tigers, my attitude towards other people changed.
By the fall of the year 2008 I no longer became annoyed or irrational but instead I became calm and more silent amongst my peers at school.
Unfortunately I would also be silent in Tae kwon Do as well, by the start of orange belt I never really wanted anybody’s help on any of the techniques besides Master Shin’s.
I just wanted to learn on my own. By my green belt, I was offered to join the black belt club which is also the demo team. This was the opportunity that set my goal of never quitting on achieving my black belt.
Once black belt club started for me, I found out how much more sharper and straight I had to perform my forms. Overall this helped to improve my stance and sometimes my coordination and balance.
What helped my kicking to become higher and more powerful without losing my balance was stretching.
Every time we got the chance to do about 20 minutes of stretching in class, I felt great afterwards. I feel like I could jump an oncoming truck.
After every time we stretched I could feel myself becoming more flexible. I didn’t just feel it, I saw it to, and I could see my round house become higher each time. This also affected my sparring to.
When I first started to do sparring drills, like every other orange belt I know or knew, had trouble keeping their balance and didn’t have enough speed to make a good hit if I was actually sparring. But as my orange belt days passed into my green belt days I had better balance and much better speed and power. By the time I hit blue belt I had gone to my first sparring competition.
At that time I thought I knew almost everything about sparring, but after only about 30 seconds on the mat, I realized there is much more to it than just kicking, there is strategy in knowing when to hit. After that day I felt embarrassed, but I still work on getting the strategy in my head even today.

In the fall of 2009, I had cut my foot, and had to have stitching under my foot, I was out of Tae Kwon Do for two weeks. When I finally got back I felt like rubber, and after 2 hours on the mat I wanted to collapse. But with a little encouragement from my friend in class I quickly got back into routine.
When I first started helping others to improve their punching defense, kicking defense, or hand grabs, I was a train wreck. Even today I still feel like I am sometimes.
When I would try to explain a move or technique I would mix up my words on what I was trying to say to that person. It was harder just looking at the technique than it was doing it.
In the spring of 2010, after master Shin had his unfortunate stroke and was slowly recovering, he would have these short classes with the higher belts, including me, he would teach about the proper way to handle different situations much better, and the proper way to teach a person from your own point of view. In the end this helped me to become much better at teaching and helping in the long run.
Aside from the classes, when master Shin had his stroke I really feel like that incident brought most of us together in trying to keep the Do Jang up and running. For the next month or two I would help my fellow classmate that was teaching a class, as much as I could.
The last black belt test that happened, I got the chance to observe Mark, Don, and Cathy as they did their black belt test. I saw how much harder it is, and how much more work I had to do before I did my test. Even in summer, when I am gone most of the time, I still worked my hardest to get where I stand here now, talking to all of the people that helped with my test. Throughout the entire summer I kept thinking of ways to answer this question.
What does the black belt mean to me? As I think back the last 3 and half years, I started from a non experienced white belt to a strong almost skilled Sr. Red. And through that time I have had help from numerous people that would cheer me up when I thought I could never make it to where I am today. To me, the black belt is a symbol, a status of accomplishment, but it is the knowledge you gain from the years of practice and friendship you earn on the way, is what sets you apart from everyone else.

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