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Taekwon-Do and Me – Jennifer Butler, 2nd Dan

Taekwon-do and Me

By Jennifer Butler

Jennifer Butler, 2nd Dan

Jennifer Butler, 2nd Dan

Over the past 20 years, I have wanted to start back up with martial arts. My brother, George, had taken several different types of martial arts including Taekwon-do. I had always admired him and looked up to him. He had great skill. I also found myself drawn to many martial art movies and shows including the Bruce Lee story. I had taken a martial art for one semester in college. I wanted to continue, but the next semester schedule conflicted with my work schedule. Being a single mom, I had to work to support my daughter while attending school full-time.

After my daughter graduated high school and went off to college, I realized this was the time to do something for myself. My life had always revolved around my daughter’s and now those activities were gone. I was becoming a bit bored with my life and feeling as if life had nothing to offer me except go to work, take my dogs for a walk, and listen to family drama.

For many years, I looked for a martial art school that would work for my schedule and be affordable. Finally, in February of 2009, I contacted Oneonta Taekwon-do via email. The owner and instructor, Raymond Mannion, sent me information. It was affordable and a perfect schedule for me. For some reason or another, I kept putting it off. I don’t know the reason, maybe a lack of confidence or courage. No matter what the reason, I put it off a few more months.

In May 2009, I worked up the courage to meet with Instructor Mannion at Oneonta Taekwon-do, then located on South Main Street next to DMV. It was smaller than I had envisioned. Instructor Mannion was very helpful. He informed me of the cost, rules and schedule. I paid for the first 3 months and received my first Dobok. The following week, I started classes. I loved the workout. It was amazing! I was a little sore the next day, but not bad.

I continued to go to 3 classes a week for about 2-3 weeks. After week 3, I began doubling up on classes for about 6 months. The patterns were not easy. I had a very difficult time with Won-Hyo, but managed to get through it. The patterns continued to be harder and harder. My favorite pattern was Yul-Gok and still continues to be my favorite.

November 2011, I drove to NYC with a group of others to watch Instruction Mannion test for his 4th Dan. I was lucky enough to meet Grandmaster Kim and many other ITF members. I feel there is a special bond amongst all ITF members. While Instructor Mannion was testing, I remembered thinking about how much time and energy is devoted to get to this level. The patterns were much more complex and challenging than the colored belt patterns. The board break he performed doing a flying side kick over his daughter’s head, must have been nerve-racking. Instructor Mannion, now Master Mannion, has successfully completed another step in his journey and is moving on to the next. He has been a great inspiration and I hope to learn much more from him. This was the day I decided that I would go to my first ITF Summer Camp to further my experiences.

On March 23, 2012, I made it through all the ranks from white belt up to 1st Dan. The 3-year journey was difficult, but a great experience. I finally completed my 1st Dan and was ready for more. Instructing students was definitely a learning curve. I enjoy instructing very much and it feels good to help other members accomplish those same trouble areas that I had accomplished. I’m still learning more, but feel I have achieved much over the years.

Summer of 2012, I attended International Taekwon-do Summer Camp in NJ for the first time. Wow was it a LOT of work! Can’t believe the pain I was in for days after. BUT, I loved it!! I made a lot of new friends. I was happy to see that my level was comparable to others of the same rank. Everyone work’s at their own pace. I may not be as good at Taekwon-do as another, but I know deep down I am a better person because of it.

Throughout my years with Oneonta Taekwon-do, I have made many new friends and have also rekindled friendships with people from my past. Many friends are not only with Taekwon-do, but with others who have a utilized the Do-Jang over the years.   I have accomplished a lot and have succeeded in many areas of my life. I have a very large family. With Taekwon-do my family has become much larger.

Taekwon-do has helped me gain confidence and courage through every aspect of my life. Each of the tenets of Taekwon-do has improved in my own personal life outside Taekwon-do. I have to be courteous toward my fellow co-workers, my supervisors and even family no matter how difficult it may be. There are many personalities that conflict with others. Being polite and showing respects helps to keep everyone else calm as well. This also falls hand in hand with self control. It is sometimes difficult to maintaining our actions toward others in life. You are responsible for your actions. Maintaining control of your actions also will help others maintain control of theirs, for the most part.

Honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty and having high moral standards are things I strongly believe should be followed by everyone. I know many who do not use integrity. It drives me up a wall! It’s difficult to maintain composure when others have low moral standards. As long as I use integrity in my life every day, I feel like a better person for it.

Over the years, things have been difficult. I have always pushed through them, sometimes a little too obsessively. Taekwon-do has actually helped me to ease back on the slight obsessive behavior. We all get frustrated and discouraged with ourselves from time to time. No matter how difficult a task may seem, I never give up. I may take a breather for a while, but always try again.

I’m almost 45. Mentally, I feel 18. I’m not as limber as I was while in my 20s. I have not experienced injury or aches and pains as much as others my age may have experienced, however, I’m not getting any younger. The world has had dramatic changes of the years. No matter what odds have been against me, my indomitable spirit has kept me pushing through.

In many aspects of my life, Taekwon-do has helped me through it all. I have noticed I don’t get as angry or as frustrated as I may have in prior years. Maybe it’s just age and life experience. I personally feel without Taekwon-do, I may still be looking for that place to fill the hole in my life or may not have confidence I have today. I have met many more people being a part of Taekwon-do than I ever would have without it. It’s been a tremendous experience and I am looking forward to many more years. I may need a break from time to time as we all do, however, I feel that life without Taekwon-do and my Taekwon-do family would be no life at all.

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