Raquel Maldonado




This is from Miss Raquel’s 1st Dan Black Belt Essay

To many spectators Tae Kwon Do will be an entertaining sport with a great deal of discipline, but to a martial artist it goes beyond it’s definition. Tae Kwon Do is not only a way of self defense, but it is also both a mental, a physical challenge, and a way of life.

In fact, I was a 12 year old spectator observing a relative’s Tae Kwon Do belt test, and as I watched them closely, I witnessed how they transformed from being fun and goofy to being focused and intense. It only took that to make me wonder about Tae Kwon Do. My father, another spectator, was also impressed and soon after he was sure to sign my brother and I up for classes.

In all honesty, when joining Tae Kwon Do at the age of 13 I was on a mission to be like one of my favorite actors, Jackie Chan, but it was a little bit after I joined that I realized that Tae Kwon Do was very challenging, Mentally, Tae Kwon Do was challenging me to think out of the box, to be creative, and to have an open mind, and physically, not to give up no matter how much I ached, and to push my limits. I loved it! Tae Kwon do gave me an adrenalin rush that I had not felt in any other sport and it challenged me so much that I was reluctant to leave it, and so began my 2 hrs. a day, 6 days a week dedication. I was so involved that the worst challenge I had to face was having to involuntarily post pone my black belt test for a year.

As a result from leaving Tae Kwon Do for so long, I had to work hard to regain the knowledge I had lost. My brother had received his black belt before me, but that did not discourage me from trying my hardest to achieve the black belt. After intense concentration and determination I finally achieved my black belt at age 17. Unfortunately for me, I had to leave Tae Kwon Do because of medical reasons and strayed from it even more when I left for college.

Since then, it had been almost 5 years that I last practiced Tae Kwon Do and I can surely say that I felt empty without it in my life. Back in my early days in Tae Kwon Do, there were these instructions we called out at the beginning of every class; Respect, Perseverance, Justice, Love of ones country, Love of ones people, I did not care too much about them back then, but I pondered a lot about their meaning throughout my 5 year retirement from Tae Kwon Do. It makes sense to me now that those instructions are my life style. They are rules that I live by every day and I perform them without intention or hesitation. Because of Tae Kwon Do I am respectful to everyone, including myself and my surroundings, I live above the influence and I have persevered through many obstacles in my life.

In conclusion, it is my goal as an instructor to influence someone else as I had been influenced by my own instructors, because if it weren’t for them I would have not been as passionate about Tae Kwon Do as I’ve been throughout most of my life. I feel honored to have been given an opportunity to return to it after such a long time. I feel grateful to be able to re-certify and earn the black belt once again. I can proudly say that I am a martial artist and that Tae Kwon Do is more than a sport to me, because it is my life style, my preferred form of self defense, and the challenge I will always be willing to take.

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