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Many Walnut Grove athletes are known for their in school sports, but students like Emma Kelley and Roman Rodriguez share their out-of-school sport experiences.
by Dairon Peters and Paulina Rodriguez
Sophomore Roman Rodriguez has been a student at Kim’s Major Taekwondo for seven years and is now a third degree black belt. He first joined when he was in 3rd grade after volunteering to break a board for the Taekwondo Try Out stand at his elementary school fall fair back in 2015. Rodriguez also mentioned that “Everyday I would drive past by the dojo, and I would always ask my mom to go there,” and he eventually he got the chance to stop by and sign up.
After seven years of training and becoming a demonstration team member, Roman was offered a job at the dojo. He told Viridian staff members that “Master Kim trusted me to help the kids” and that he likes “helping the kids with learning their belt forms because Master Kim can be a little harsh, so I guess they needed someone who’s softer.”
Rodriguez not only helps students with training, but he also assists Master Kim during belt tests. He is used as an example when students struggle to remember a part of their form, and he holds the wooden boards for board breaking.
Roman advises that students who are interested in martial arts should “try it out for at least a couple of months to see how [they] feel. It’s super easy to learn, fun, and you make a lot of friends.”
Another student, Senior Emma Kelley, is a second-degree black belt and has been doing taekwondo for six years. She’s mentioned that she has always trained in Loganville at Kyung-Hee Taekwondo. She first got into taekwondo because a friend was doing it and they asked her to tag along to one of their practices. She stated, “I came and I thought it was so cool. I [automatically] wanted to be strong and better than him.” Ever since then, it’s been something important to her even after her friend quit.
There are different levels to learn to advance to different belts in taekwondo which are the white, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, blue sr., brown, brown sr. red , jr black, and black belts. On each color belt, you wear stripes indicating your level of attainment on that belt. Emma said, “the hardest level was high blue; due to the palm strike which I could not get for the life of me.”
“It took about five years to get to the level of a second degree black belt. It’ll be six when I finally reach the 3rd level.”
Emma states what she’s learned over that amount of time saying, “its all mental.” and encourages other students to “just go for it.” and give it a try.
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