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My Taekwondo Journey – Jennita Tantinimitchok 1st Dan

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Member Stories

My Taekwondo Journey – Jennita Tantinimitchok 1st Dan

It all started in December of 2016.

I was eight years old at the time, walking into the Toowong branch of Pacific International Taekwondo for the first time and being greeted by Master Instructor Margaret. My training started there, where I built my foundation for about a year before moving to the more conveniently located Dutton Park branch.

Moving to a new branch can be difficult but I was met by the smiling faces of Instructor Scott and Senior instructor Mark, as well as Assistant instructors Jay and Huso, so I settled in quickly.

I continued to develop my taekwondo techniques and abilities in the Dutton Park branch for about 3 years. I slowly started building friendships and connections within the group of class members, I found enjoyment in attending training and feeling involved in the training journey alongside my peers. At the time, I never envisioned myself as a black belt, I was just enjoying the taekwondo environment every Tuesday and Thursday night.

 

Then COVID hit early 2020. At this point in time I was a fresh 4th Kup. Although training inside all the branches stopped, we found a way to continue. And to this day, I can clearly recall learning my blue belt pattern, with the guidance of Instructor Scott, training with a maximum of 5 people on the field of Dutton Park State School. Taekwondo training remained like this for a good 4 months until we moved back into the hall at St Ita’s school.

By now my Taekwondo training had helped me develop a strong sense of resilience, especially after being kicked in the stomach by a larger kid, and almost fainting during my 5th Kup grading. Luckily I held on, only passing out from exhaustion a second after the grading finished. Yes, these are experiences that will stay with me forever but I am grateful for them, as they brought me to where I am today.

 

Fast forward to September 2023. The moment of anticipation.

I was training 3 nights a week; Tuesdays and Thursdays at Dutton Park, Wednesdays at Toowong. Never had I thought in my early days of Taekwondo that I would be breaking boards in preparation for my 1st Dan grading. For all I can remember, watching senior belts break boards seemed completely out of reach to me as a young kid. Now it was a make-or-break situation where I had one shot to get it right.

The Black Belt grading is in 2 parts. Part 1 was a blur; all I can remember was all my previous branch instructors being there in support for my grading, giving me all the motivation I needed to get through it.

Then the day of part 2 arrived. The month of 5 to 10 minutes of burpees daily was all in preparation for this moment. Lingering doubt remained in my mind from Wednesday night’s training where I had failed to break turning kick on the black board. Yet I still faced the grading with determination and indomitable spirit, and gave it my all. I got through my board breaks, suffered through the endless rounds of sparing, was lightheaded by the time we reached street defence; but I kept on fighting. The most rewarding feeling was getting my name called up to receive my black belt from Grand Master, where a photo captures me with the goofiest grin as he wraps the black belt around my waist. The fight had been worth it. I had made it to 1st Dan black belt. But I’m not done yet.

Taekwondo can mean a lot of different things for different people. For some, it’s the excitement of learning new self-defence techniques. Others enjoy going to train for the fitness benefits.

But for me, taekwondo is an opportunity to escape the overwhelming busyness of life by getting to train and spend time with some trusted friends and great instructors.

Over the years, it has taught me many skills, but three traits stand out to me most: courage, commitment, and confidence.

To begin with, courage. When you first begin training, one of the first things you are taught is to ki-hap, which involves letting out a short sharp yell. And the rule is it must be able to intimidate your opponent. Throughout the entirety of your TKD training, you are required to ki-hap loudly whenever you do an attacking technique and it has to come from your stomach and gut. Over time, you learn to naturally ki-hap loud and clear each time you do a technique and develop the courage to do so without any hesitation. You learn to have the courage to pick yourself back up off the floor, no matter how hard you’ve been hit in the stomach.

Next on the list, commitment. When you begin TKD training, you begin the long journey towards your black belt. However, you’ll find that the amount of people who have gotten to black belt is a small fraction of the people who originally had a white belt. This is because getting to black belt required constant commitment to training. I’ve learnt over the years that training is where I grow the most in my martial arts capabilities, where I have instructors willing to push me to my best and peers who are willing to train equally as hard as me. TKD taught me the importance of turning up, as it is a commitment you’ve made and the only way to get to where you want to be is by continuously show up.

And finally, confidence. Throughout my training, I feel that my confidence level has grown with my experience, and I watched others around me gain confidence as well. One thing that has been taught to me is that even if you happen to do a wrong move or technique, delivering it with confidence and certainty is hundred times better than doing the technique right with no effort or intent at all. TKD gives you the confidence of stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching to build your full potential. For me, it’s given me the confidence knowing that I now have the abilities to defend myself if ever needed and that I can only get better from here.

This is a summary of my Taekwondo story, and what this experience has taught me as a current 1st Dan

at 15 years of age. I’ve still got a long way to go from here but the 7 years it’s taken for me to get to 1st Dan black belt have helped me grow as a person and as a martial artist. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

Written by Jennita Tantinimitchok (2024)

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