My name is Wren Bakewell, and I am twelve years old. I am writing this essay to become a Cho Dan black belt student. Tang Soo Do has changed my life in many different ways. The three biggest ways it has changed my life are that I have become stronger; I have become more mature; and I have learned more about myself physically. I started Tang Soo Do at the age of seven. The reason why I started Tang Soo Do is because I wanted to learn something new. Before starting Tang Soo Do, I played soccer. I liked playing but then I learned about karate. I thought it was cool because of the techniques and forms and self-defense moves. I remember at my first class I did not even have a uniform yet. I was very excited to start. Class was a bit harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought I would learn techniques and moves right away. I did not know how much I would learn. I did not know how to count in Korean, the names of the techniques, how to do any technique and that practicing with a partner were so important. By the end of the first class I knew I really liked it and that I wanted to come back. Along the way of my training I have learned that practice and time is how I would become a better student.
The first way I have become a better student is that I have become stronger. I have become stronger physically and mentally in a lot of ways. When I am in class, I put in all of my effort. I stay focused and pay attention to Master Acri or the instructor for the day. It is not always easy to stay focused in class. Sometimes there are distractions, and I must work hard to stay focused. From the time I started learning about Tang Soo Do to now, I have become physically stronger. My kicks have become more powerful. At the beginning, I had a hard time breaking boards. But now, it isn’t as hard to break them. Over time, I can do my forms quicker and not as slow. They are not as sloppy as they used to be. I am also in better shape than when I started. I do not have to take as many breaks. When it is hard I don’t give up. I keep on pushing myself and trying. For example, if I can’t get a kick right I will keep on trying and tweaking how I do the turn, how I angle my kick, how much power I need. I might get frustrated, but I keep my patience and instead of getting mad I keep on trying.
The second way I have become a better student is that I am more mature and disciplined. I normally like to work by myself and not with other people. When I first had to work with a partner, it was hard for me. It was hard to explain how to do a technique or hold a target. I also struggled working with someone taller or shorter than me. Now it is not hard. I have grown accustomed to working with partners that are taller and shorter than me. I am comfortable with explaining how to do a technique. When Master Acri chooses me to do a demonstration in class it makes me feel confident. I like it because the other kids in class look up to me as an example. I try to set a good example in class for the younger students, too. I feel I am more disciplined because I have to learn more one steps and forms as I have earned each new belt.
The third way I have become a better student is that I have learned about myself and my abilities. When I started, I did not know how to do a tornado kick, a 360-back kick, jumping back kick and sidekicks. I didn’t know how to control my power and keep my balance. I have worked hard on my kicking techniques and controlling my power. If I need help, I am not afraid to ask for help from Master Acri or another black belt student. When I am sparring, I control myself, so I do not accidentally kick or punch my partner. I have learned to be in control and what I can do. At the beginning, I didn’t think I would ever be able to be in a competition. I was nervous and scared. Before COVID-19, I participated in the last two Region Eight Fall Classics. I learned I could do more than I thought I could. I was still nervous, but I did not let it stop me from competing. I hope to compete more in the future, too.
Tang Soo Do has given me the opportunity to meet new people. When I first started I did not know anyone in class. What I found was everyone is very friendly. From the white belts to the black belts I was welcomed. As a result, I have made many friends that I speak to in and out of class. It is nice to see others from Tang Soo Do at school or shopping, we have a shared connection through Tang Soo Do and are immediately comfortable with one another. I have a sense I can go anywhere and meet someone and become friends because of how friendly and accepting Tang Soo Do is.
Tang Soo Do has taught me many important things about my life and who I am. I have become stronger. Stronger mentally and physically. I have learned discipline and hard work is key to success. I have learned confidence even when I am nervous. When I asked to help in class or tests my confidence gets a boost. I have met new people and have made lasting friendships. I have been able to compete and gain knowledge from that. All these things are due to Tang Soo Do!