Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mr.Jerry Jackson

How I Got Here:  My Journey to the     Dojang                     

Where do I start?  I first thought about it sitting in a movie theatre as an early teenager watching Ralph Macchio become a legend in the movie The Karate Kid.  I thought, if that skinny little kid can learn to whip bad guys and get the pretty girl doing it, well so can I!  One problem; I grew up in a very small town called Graettinger, Iowa.  We didn't have a stop light in our town much less a martial arts school.  Even if I had access to one, it would have been a big stretch to ask for my parents to pay for something like that.  My dream ended sooner than it took the movie credits to finish.  So I filed away any thoughts of learning a martial art.

In the spring of the year 2005, I made a career change and relocated to a small town near Cherokee.  I recall working out in the Wellness Center one evening.  I was busy doing my thing but kept hearing loud yelling.  I looked over the second story railing to see Master Pearson leading a group of TKD students.  I watched for quite a while, but for whatever reason I didn't go inquire.

Fast forward to 2012; my son Brody was starting kindergarten, and life was good.  One day I was waiting at the bus stop for my little champ to get off.  I wasn't prepared for what I was about to see.  Brody was the last kid off the bus that day.  He stepped down off the steps and when his feet hit the ground so did my heart.  He looked up with tears streaming down his face and he was a bloody mess.  That was the first of several incidents at the hands of not one, but two bullies.  I guess having epilepsy makes you different and a target, even in kindergarten.  A few angry meetings with both the school and the parents made one of the bullies stop but not the other.  So I told Brody we could get him TKD lessons.  He thought about it long and hard for quite awhile, and then decided to get on board.

I knew full well I wanted to take lessons with him, but a busy work schedule wouldn't allow it at firstI contacted Master Pearson and in August of 2013, and Brody bowed, crossed the red line in our dojang, and started his journey.  December of the same year I was finally able to start my own journey.  By this time I was thrilled with Brody's progress and I couldn't wait for my turn.  I informed Master Pearson I would be there on the 13th.  She was waiting by the door for me and just like Brody I bowed and crossed the red line.  Honestly, after only a few minutes, I realized I was completely terrified of this woman.  She helped me understand who was in charge at all times (as if my shaking knees didn't tell her I got the point).  We worked through what might have been her worst first day student lesson ever.  I went away after day one feeling overwhelmed, but knowing I was hooked.

Many lessons have been taught in my time in TKD.  One in particular that I have learned is that TKD is a gift.  Master Pearson has said that to me many times over the last couple of years.  The gift of knowledge is what it means most to me.  I too have a gift.  My gift comes in the form of my young son Brody.  One day, like all of us parents, I will give my gift to the world.  I will be satisfied when the day comes knowing that the teaching and the convictions I will have instilled into him, supplemented by the tenets of TKD, have created a well rounded and respectful young man.

In closing I have a few people to thank.  Thank you to Grand Master Jung and all the other masters.  Thank you for the foundation you have made.  This is such a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn.

Thank you to my TKD family in Cherokee.  Without you, I would not be standing here today.  Every single student has a stake in me being here, and I thank you.  To my mom, I would run out of ink before I ever finished writing enough about you.  You inspire me to keep moving forward and become the best I can be.  To my dad, how do you thank your hero enough?  I say hero for a very good reason.  He is a two time Purple Heart recipientHe fought in the Vietnam and Gulf warsHe is a 38 year distinguished military retireeHe’s faced the toughest form of lung cancer and beat it.  He is a walleye fishing master, and my best buddy.  I couldn't be here today without you.  I do find it ironic that you and mom brought me into this world kicking and screaming and youre still with me watching me do the same thing.  To my son Brody, I couldn't ask for a better son.  Youre turning into a nice respectful young man, and I am so proud.  I can't wait for the day you get to step onto this floor and test for your own black belt.  I love you very much.  Last but certainly not least, thank you to Master Pearson.  First and foremost, I am happy to say I am no longer scared to death of you.  My fear has turned into respect.  Your teaching me has been a life changing experience.  Thank you for helping me through one of the most difficult years of my life.  I am honored to call you Master Pearson, and I am grateful to also be able to call you my friend.



Respectfully Submitted by:

Jerry Jackson


Friday, August 12, 2016

McKenzee Verry---Temporary Black Belt Test

Grinnell Dojang
Temporary Black Belt
June18 , 2016
What TaeKwonDo Means To Me

My name is McKenzee, I am 24 years old and I am very soon to be (hopefully) a black belt member of the Jung’s family.  When I was in junior high I played basketball and ran hurdles in track, I loved being on a team and participating in sports distracted me from my troubles at home. Unfortunately, as time went on I developed a few different issues with my knees that in turn prevented me from continuing with any sports in high school. Left with no outlet and things at home getting rocky, I developed depression, anxiety, as well as an extreme lack of self-confidence and motivation. 
Over the next seven years of my life I struggled greatly with who I was and what I was going to do with my life. I felt like I was lost in myself.  Then I met Mr. Forrest Gibson who would change my life in a way that I never expected. I didn’t meet him through TaeKwonDo, but it was clear from the beginning that it was a large part of his life.  I had participated in TaeKwonDo when I was younger at another school in Iowa City and didn’t hold very good memories from it, so when Master Gibson and the mothers of the Grinnell Branch students began trying to convince me to rejoin I was extremely hesitant.

However, I was completely intrigued watching his classes and going to rank testing in Cedar Rapids, and it was instantly clear that the Jung’s program was nothing like the one I had been in previously, while TaeKwonDo is individual these students were really a team, a group of people that may never have spoken before were working together towards a common interest. I was so impressed with all the students; their technique, concentration, and motivation were remarkable. After about three months of watching and getting to know the students, I realized that none of them would be who they were without TaeKwonDo, and maybe it would change me as well, so I joined.

 The Jung’s program was like a map helping me on my journey to a better me. Since joining I’ve learned to better understand my body: how hard and how far I can push myself. I no longer depend on medications to control my anxiety and depression or to get me through the day. I no longer depend solely on others to provide me with the motivation to do anything, even if there is a room full of people willing to lift me up whenever I’m in need. In fact, my level of confidence in myself is higher than it’s ever been. While I still have so much to improve on I’m a million miles from where I began, and if I had to choose the most important lesson that TaeKwonDo has taught me it would be that I will never be done improving myself.

I can’t say that TaeKwonDo is for everyone, but I can say and believe whole heartedly that the Jung’s program is for EVERYONE, every age, race, sex, size, and religion. To me, Jung’s TaeKwonDo about finding yourself, constantly working at becoming the best person you can be, and helping others to do the same.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Max Hunt-First Degree

Grinnell Dojang
First Degree
April 9, 2016

On March 19th, 2013 I started my journey through the ranks of Tae Kwon Do. As you can see in this picture, when I started my son was already a 1st Permanent Brown Belt. Also in this picture is my Wife and Daughter in the Jung's T-shirts, they support us and do many things for Tae Kwon Do behind the scenes, like get us on Channel 13's work out of the week.
            Here I am three years into my Tae Kwon Do journey getting prepared for my test to attain the rank of 1st Dan. I can hardly believe where I am at on this journey today, it has been a lot of work, practice, studying, and participating in all kind of events to reach this point of my progression through the ranks. Before I had knowledge of martial arts and what it meant to be a black belt, I was ignorant of the hard work one had to do to qualify for this honor. Many lay people that do not have knowledge about this art think that a black belt is someone who is very dangerous and any conflict with this person should be avoided at any cost. Those of us that have chosen to participate in Tae Kwon Do, know that the rank of black belt is an honor, and with it comes many responsibilities and expectations.
            So one may ask, "how do you become a black belt?", and I will tell them to sit down because this answer will take awhile. First we learn many kicks, blocks, punches, and stances, which are used to perform our art of foot and hand. We need to know ten International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) forms and their meanings. That's a lot of Korean history, and a total of 297 movements. We also have to learn eight World Tae Kwon Do  Federation (WTF) forms and their meanings. The meanings of these forms are aligned with the elements in our environment, like heaven, lake, fire, thunder, wind, water, mountain, and earth. There are a total of 227 movements in the eight WTF forms. In addition to this we learn and memorize three and one step sparring movements. There are 28 different movements we have to know, and we must make up several of our own sparring movements. Then we learn board and cement breaking techniques, using the knowledge learned as we progress through the ranks to execute these accomplishments. Usually the person receiving this information will be in disbelief about how much knowledge one must acquire to pass a black belt test, and I will admit when I first was looking into participating in this art, I had no idea how much information we must learn besides the actual execution of the forms. Besides the forms, meanings, and sparring, a black belt candidate must also learn many commands and counting in the Korean language. This is a difficult task, especially for a person in their middle 50s.

            As I progressed through the ranks and learned all of these prerequisites for black belt, I also learned and practiced the tenants of Tae Kwon Do. From day one I learned the rules of the Do Jang, such as no shoes, bow to the flags, respect higher belts, and so on. I also began practicing the tenants. When I was testing for my lower color belts one of the judges asked me what my favorite tenant was. As I was exhausted from testing and my uniform soaking wet with sweat, I said, "Perseverance, Mam!". I believed that at the time, because no matter how tough or hard the program was, I would do my best to not quit. By practicing all the tenants of Tae Kwon Do, one can overcome most any obstacle. Today as I continue to progress in the program, I feel my favorite tenant has changed. To me Tae Kwon Do has become more of a spiritual journey, than a physical one. I believe my spirit is what keeps me going, and as long as I am conscious of my inner spirit, I will be able to persevere and conquer all that comes before me. No matter how much physical strength a person has, they are weak if their spirit is sick. Tae Kwon Do has given me a strong and  healthy spirit, mind, and body.
            So now that I have done my time in the lower ranks, gained all this knowledge, and am about to test for First Dan, what do I do after that. Well this is the best part because I get to help those coming up the ranks with their forms, movements, definitions, and techniques. Sharing my experience with others, and helping them to progress is very satisfying. Watching people come into the do jang and sticking with the program, I get to relive my journey through helping them attain their goals. As they go through the ranks, it is amazing to see the transformations that take place.