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Congratulations to Anya in Year 6 on being awarded her 1st Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. In her own words, she writes an inspiring account of her journey and how if you put your heart and soul into something, you can achieve and succeed!
“To all the girls and women,
When I was 4, I walked into my first Tae Kwon Do lesson. I concentrated and listened to what was being told and enjoyed the class. According to my mum, when the lesson was over I said, “why do I have to be in a class with boys?” This was true. There were approximately 30-40 children in my class and I was one of only three girls there. At that age, I didn’t understand what self defence was, so my mum told me Tae Kwon Do was for exercise and to make me strong. After my first few lessons, I really started to enjoy the classes as we learnt by playing Tae Kwon Do style games. I didn’t care if I was one of the only girls there, I carried on!
Over the years, my training began to develop, I qualified for gradings and passed them all the first time, including the Korean theory I had to learn. I then moved to higher level classes which had more girls, but mostly all were adults. I went from being one of the only girls in the class, to being one of the smallest and youngest. I started to feel left out at times when we had to partner up in class. Everyone would get into pairs and I would have to try to find one for myself as no one wanted to be with the smallest one in the class. This didn’t put me off. People often say I am very chatty and talk to anyone. So, I would always just go up to someone and ask if they wanted to be my partner. I always found a partner and slowly started making friends. I think the others in the class started to see that I was serious and deserved to be in the class with them. We were kind of like a family and everyone helped me when there were things I could not do.
Last July I received my black tag. This meant I was one step away from getting my black belt. I received a letter to say the earliest I could get my black belt would be in October 2020. This is because we have to attended a certain number of lessons to qualify, this would have made me 11 years old. I decided I really wanted my black belt while I was 10 years old, so I asked my instructor how can I qualify for the earlier grading. I was told I had to do three lessons a week to qualify from the attendance angle alone. Even though my classes were at 8.30 in the evenings on a school night, I was determined to qualify so I begged my parents to let me try. I would not give up.
In February this year, finally the day came where I got my grading form which meant I could grade! I was so happy and practiced non-stop and began learning the 150 Korean theory question which I also needed to pass.
Suddenly, something terrible happened that shattered everything to pieces….COVID-19 came!!! My classes stopped and the grading was cancelled. I was devastated! I felt like all the hard work from the past year was for nothing. My instructor said that he would send an email training plan twice a week. We were offered the option to complete it and send him video evidence for feedback so we could still improve. Some people didn’t complete it, but I did. My sister also does Tae Kwon Do and we both worked hard to complete every single lesson that was sent to us. We worked together to practice the sparring and drills and my mum videoed it all sending it back.
My sister and I did not miss a single lesson. Around August, when the situation with COVID started to settle down, the people who had completed the online training and had previously qualified for the grading would be allowed to take the grading the following month. I got my email! I was over the moon. Classes slowly started again, I was so happy. My perseverance had paid off.
Finally, the day came, 27th September 2020. I had turned 11 the week before. My wish to grade while I was 10 didn’t come true. I was sad, but happy that at least I could grade. My dad drove us all the way to Petersfield the night before and on the way my mum tested me on all the Theory. I was ready for this!!!!
In the morning, I got ready and left to go. When I got there I went into a big hall with orange walls. The judging panel was made up of some of the most senior members of the TAGB council. It was extremely intimidating.
On Friday, I went to my usual class hoping I would get my results. My instructor was waiting for me outside. I was extremely nervous. He finally gave me the news I had waited all week for. I HAD PASSED!!! My family were watching from outside as my instructor awarded me my 1st Dan Black Belt. My whole Tae Kwon Do class were so happy for me and one even said “welcome to the club” with a fist bump. It had all been worth it for this one special moment which I will never forget.
After my class, my mum and dad took me and Elana to Baskin and Robins. I was really excited and chose my favourite flavour, bubblegum candyland. We FaceTimed my family members and I told them the news. They were really proud.
Now you have read my story, I hope you can all ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve to Succeed,’ because no matter how young you are, or if you’re a girl, it doesn’t really matter. When you want something, you should go out and get it. Don’t ever feel or let anyone say that you don’t belong. If you believe it, you will achieve it.
My goal now is to work for my second level black belt.”