Why Taekwondo?

I have been practicing Taekwondo with Master Staup since 2012 and she has been instrumental in improving my physical strength and mental awareness.  I have learned self-defense skills and reinforced my balance and flexibility. 

I joined this practice after a major injury and her classes have strengthened both my physical and spiritual well-being. I have witnessed the way Master Staup develops confidence and discipline in her students and I highly recommend the McCall Taekwondo Club to all ages and physical abilities. 

Savilla Kiely

Trust

I love so many of the experiences, interactions and opportunities I am honored to have. 
Yesterday, I witnessed some amazing people step up to the plate at the Fall belt promotion. One student had just experienced a huge emotional blow just before but showed up and then really showed up*. Another had no idea what to expect and felt the unknown looming large, yet it did not impact the performance. Another forgot something and the realization of that started the domino effect. You could feel the tears and frustration trying to burst out but they did not, and the comeback was impressive. Another was not fully prepared but worked so hard to be there and wanted to demonstrate dedication and a willingness to not succeed (get a new belt). Another is not always able to attend because of work. But the effort shown off the mat and the positive attitude, thoughtful questions, and openness to the process is awesome. Some students chose not to test because they were not ready, they made that choice without me; their ability to self analyze is so impressive. I have such respect for that. 
I believe that the only way you fail is to give up and walk off the mat, to throw your hands up, storm off. It could happen. 
I do not believe that not earning a belt is failure though, it is an opportunity. We have had students not pass. But I never viewed it as failure and I hope they have not either.
More importantly though, what touched me most in my observations was realizing that these people trust me; young, older, beginner, and seasoned practitioners- their trust in me to maintain a positive, safe learning environment, their trust in me to try* and make the right choices, their trust in my integrity, their trust in me to be there, that trust means so, so much to me. 
A friend came and watched the tail end and remarked on the test and it’s conclusion. Those remarks hit home and made me reflect on the community we are cultivating in our space. 
That made me smile and feel even stronger and more dedicated to what I am doing and what I am a part of.

Tonight I got to interact with so many amazing, kind, and passionate people and catch up with an old friend. 
My life has been interesting the past few months and has helped to refocus the lens through which I see the world.

Be the good you want to see in the world and the world around you will reflect that 🙏🏽

Road to Nationals 2018

Road to Nationals 2018

Let me tell you something; Salt Lake City is hot, so hot. So, when we drove into the city, all the buildings are white or grey, and I could see heat waves coming off the roads and sidewalks, I knew I was going to be more determined than ever to be healthy, hydrated, and perform like hell was on my heels. 

The road to Nationals has been an interesting one for me. It began in 2017, once I knew how close the event was going to be to Idaho. Despite the exhaustion that has plagued me the past few years, I felt determined to focus on this goal and achieve it, no matter what. And I have done just that. 

In preparation for this, I intentionally participated in many more events, big and small. I needed to put myself out there, be vulnerable, be open to loss and learning, and get the feel for this different vibe. I have competed in large, international events before but there is always something different about a USA Taekwondo competition. It is not the vibe that has set me off but rather the place and cost; if I can go to some of my some favorite places, see friends, and compete for less than an arm or leg, I am IN. The UC Open, the JKI, and others are wonderful, prestigious events and I always learn a lot, but mostly I have fun catching up with friends in and out of Taekwondo, eating amazing food, and enjoying the ocean or city views. I always try my hardest and prepare for months, even if part of the goal is to incorporate a fun filled vacation. Still, there is something different about a USA Taekwondo, Pan Am, or World Taekwondo event. 

At the US Open, I knew I had not prepared enough, that I was coming off a crazy work and sleep schedule, and that this was about the experience and learning. And that is exactly what it was, but I could feel the "off-ness" I had been complaining about for quite some time. Then, at the Oregon State Championships a couple of weeks later, again crazy work/sleep schedule, I felt off. Marie (my competitor) was really good, strong, and everything. I am those things too, but when I was done and saw the video none of what I know is inside me was translating to the mat. That was really hard to take in because I am so used to performing strongly, not looking like I am tired and dragging.

Before I even left for Portland I told myself that this was only about qualifying, get into Nationals, then rest, and prepare for Nationals with everything inside me. I mean, this whole time I was trying to prepare but just lacked the inner fire to do what needed to be done and travel to train where I needed to. My fire has been dampening for quite some time. I had gone to the doctor so many times and pursued alternative medicine and other options and it began to seem like I was just burnt out. It happens. I just didn't expect it to happen to me, and not now. 

Still, I was set on attending Nationals and giving it my all. I scaled back everything more than I had and tried to focus mostly on what I would need for competition. Yet, there was almost no pep in me. At end of March, something real was wrong. Then, at the end of April, well, those showers didn't bring flowers. Turns out I have thyroid cancer - CLICK - mostly everything made sense. Sure, it is a shocker, but how awesome that it is a fixable problem (still sucks though). As a doer, I was heartened that I could do something to remove the weight on my shoulders, or rather on my thyroid. But wait, what about Nationals? Reactions like, "You're crazy" or very motherly (judging) looks were thrown my way. I am a determined person though and my heart was set on July 7th.  So, when the surgeon and other doctors gave the go-ahead and actually encouraged me to compete, I was ecstatic. 

I did my vulnerability work, I put myself out there, I was honest, and then I sat back and began to receive the benefits of admitting to the world I have a temporary illness and learning to be ok with asking for help. The support was unreal from all avenues. People came out of the woodwork in mostly a good way. I have been able to help educate people on chronic illness, how to treat people in this position, and how to respect boundaries. I am not dying and I can do something, so many people cannot and their reality is different than mine; I want to be heard for myself and for others, they need a voice too. This knowing I am not looking at a dark horizon does not diminish how disappointing the diagnosis has been.

Tim Thackery, of the Juice Athlete Compound, took me under his wing and got me set up to figure out what my limits were physically and mentally, because I am fighting a lot more than I thought; there new lines that needed to be established for this journey to be positive. Other community resources blossomed around me: Jenny at Hope and Healing, Jodie at Tantra Power Yoga, Renee at Shanti Yoga, Rachel and Stephanie with their Chinese Medicine, Jennifer Stone with massage and Bhuti Yoga, people with organic and wild food sources, people with some financial offering, people who were just kind and understanding, everywhere around me people were supportive. This has been beautiful to see, despite the circumstances. 

The Mile High Open was so great this year, and leading up to it I knew I was pushing myself perhaps too much. Well, thanks to Master Steve and Amanda Rosbarsky and of Missoula Taekwondo Center and their equipment and support, Grandmaster Larry Duke of Idaho Taekwondo Training Center, Mr. Ben Forsgren of Stanley Taekwondo Club, Master Eric Wibbeler of The Martial Way, and of course everyone from McCall Taekwondo Club, the event was better, more fair, more competitive, and the all around better than it has been in the past. But, I did push myself too far and was pretty spent physically and mentally. I had to spend a lot of time resting and recovering, more than I had expected and with only two weeks between our event and Nationals. 

I walked through my compulsory poomsae each day, focusing on the accuracy and timing. Much more than that and I was spent. My workouts via remote coaching were taking me longer to get through without doing more harm to myself. Still, I plugged away, my family rallied and we started doing more visualizations, watching videos, talking and writing my way through the forms to really get my mental game on point. At this time I was also doing the 28 Day Juice Athlete Challenge which really helped remind me to look at all of the good around me and keep me centered better, or at least from spinning out completely. I felt like a breakdown was coming and began blaming myself for wearing myself too thin, burning the candle at both ends, etc. I stayed strong and dug deep, banished the negative thoughts, and the breakdown never came, but slowly my energy and zip started to smolder again.

I did my best to not push it and to be kind to myself, knowing that no matter what I would give it my all at Nationals, even if that was just walking into the ring. Every day our best is different. This is something I have said for a long time, but this year it really has come into my soul. I accept this even for myself. We all know that forgiving ourselves is one of the hardest things to do. 

We celebrated my dad's birthday on the 4th and hit the road. I got through all of my final doctor appointments and got the last go ahead. We - I should explain this we*. My mother having actively and admirably battled her own health issues and cancer, really understood why this was so important to me. She and my father have been a constant support to me, helping me every step of the way. My dad stayed to take care of the dog and tie up a few loose ends for me at home regarding insurance, business, and moving so I could compete more or less stress free; my mom made enough juice to supple an army, hit the farmers market, and we were off! So, We spent the night with my Aunt Sharon in Pocatello and she decided to join us on this little adventure and the next morning we made the sojourn to SLC. (whereupon I melted, just kidding)

When we went to the venue the buzz was electric. There were so many people. It is always inspiring to be surrounded by a group of people on a similar path and with similar expectations. Seeing so many people, old and young, masters and beginners brought such a smile to my face. We went and checked into the hotels, unpacked, had a quick rest, then popped back to see a few friends compete. After a few hours of non-stop clapping, some hugs from dear friends, and a new dobak, we joined my Aunt at Tin Angel for a little pre-celebration (remember, I like good food). Spending this time with family was so precious to me. I am grateful for that meal. My boyfriend called and told me he was en route to come support me and I thought at this point I was going explode from gratitude. Afterward, I met back at the venue with a new friend, Alicia, who also was part of the 28 Day Challenge. We went through poomsae, learned about each other, and then went on to find the original people I had intended to meet. I hugged Allison (one of my favorite competitors) and her coach Master Bohyeon Kim (multi-time world champion) and went back to the hotel to sleep. Or try. In case you have not noticed, I have a hard time just being "chill," as the kids say. 

After some creative curtain improvements and such, I learned that my division would be much later than expected, and off to sleep I went. Upon waking, I meditated, visualized, got a pep talk from my mom, stretched, leapt out the door to hug my boyfriend when he made it to our hotel, and got ready to go to the Salt Palace. 

When we got there we met one of the workers we had seen the day before and sparked a brief but beautiful friendship with Oliver. I went and watched Abbey spar her heart out and felt myself getting excited about 90minutes before I was to be called to holding. I went to stretch out and walk through poomsae with Allison and her coach. What I think has been hardest has been remembering not to push myself, because I am empty and running on fumes. I began to feel a bit nervous because walking* through my forms was leaving me breathless and exhausted. Allison helped keep me excited about what we were doing. A couple of other coaches reached out to make sure I was all right, and give me great feedback (they didn't know me), competitors from other womens' divisions came over and helped me out, critiquing here and there, making adjustments, and reminding me that 'this is a beginning' and I will only get better. It was also fun to commiserate about a few of the changes and engage in friendly banter. The one woman, Catherine, was so kind and pure in willingness to help. She saw me have a moment, when the wave hit me, and really reached out to help. Her assertions and encouragement, along with Allison's, a hug from some friends and my mom all built me up and gave me some extra spirit to get out there and put out my best. Then, my dear, amazing friend Master Amanda Rosbarsky agreed to coach me. I almost cried so many times during the competition because of how overwhelmed I was and still am, by everyone's kindness and generosity. 

I went out there, I got some last minute tips from Master Amanda, and then it was my turn. I set my mind, put my body and spirit out there. Of course, I made some errors and there are things I can improve on, but I gave it everything I had in that moment. I was completely breathless at the end but I felt so good. I hugged my coach, my friend, her coach, and got so much positive feedback about my focus and strength. I needed to know that my effort in that moment showed, and hearing that it did was so gratifying. I did not make finals though.

Putting out your best and not making it to finals is a really emotional bundle. The whole thing is. What makes poomsae so much harder to me than gyroogi (sparring), is that you only get one shot to do it right. You cannot make up points once they are lost, you cannot take back a misplaced hand, you cannot redo a kick to make it snappier, one time at 100% and then you wait and see. It has a nice finality to it in some ways and a really hard one in others. When i realized I did not make the cut, I felt relieved, I felt sad, I felt accomplished, I felt disappointed, I felt amazed, I felt awe, I felt love, I felt it all. 

Taekwondo is such a huge part of my life. Every competition is emotional, whether I win or not. I have a really hard time talking about any competition or event for a couple of days because I have decompress and thread out all of the emotions and sit with the experience. I have cheated myself this in the past and just jumped right into the zealous analyzation, intense self critique, and immediately training; yet, publicly I try to present a very upbeat, everything is great and everything is learning persona. I have realized what a disservice this is to myself and those around me. I have the same experience as my students when they win and lose, and that needs to be discussed and honored. They should not feel alone in their feelings. They should be able express sadness from a loss and joy from a win without it being diminished or overshadowed. A win should be celebrated and allowed to have its time before getting 'back to work' because it needs its own space to breathe and live, just as the emotions with a loss do. If those are constantly stuffed away and are not adequately acknowledged they will eventually sabotage the participant in the sport or in her life, or worse in both.

Now that I have sat with experience, I see small things I can correct, I see things I can adjust, and I see all of that balanced with the good and the progress I have made just in this year. I know with the help of many people I will get to where I want. They will see things I can not and teach me things and show me perspectives I never imagined, and I am so excited to get back to work. First,  I have surgery and eliminate the cancer. Then, I recover. I rest and digest all of these experiences. Then, whenever then may be, and my recovery is complete or at least well underway, I will get back to the physical work and remind myself to be kind to everyone, including me. 

In the days since Nationals I have felt such a relief, such a sense of accomplishment, I cannot begin to even describe it. I did what I set out for, my intent was seen through. 

I cannot wait for the opportunities the future will present me with. Most importantly, I cannot wait to feel good and to feel alive again. This journey to Nationals has been eye opening and one of the most memorable, love filled, and positive experiences of my life. 

Thank you to everyone who supported me along the way. 

Cheers!

~Master Staup

From Self-Defense to Going All In

I felt called to take Angela’s Self Defense seminar this past April.  I travel quite a bit for work and often find myself on my own.  While it is completely out of my comfort zone, I decided to push my boundaries a bit and take the class.

I showed up. I was the only one… It was hella-intimidating.  But I was there, and I gave it my all… and so did Ruth and Angela.  My private instruction was incredible – it would have been amazing with a group too, but there was something special facing my insecurities about self defense with these strong and supportive women.  I went from a mousey helpless beginner, to a much louder and more informed beginner…. I wanted more!

I decided to enroll my daughter, my 9-year-old in her class… as well as myself. My daughter has been asking to take her class for ages, but I could not figure out how to fit it into her already busy schedule – and I was nervous about introducing my sweet little girl to a fighting sport… I was going to make her dad do that. 

Three days before our first scheduled class, my daughter found herself injured again.  My baby takes after her clumsy mother and is injured a lot.  Angela encouraged me to bring her in anyway and we would work around her issues.  We came in a little early to get comfortable and help my daughter understand that this class was going to be about what she could do… not what she couldn’t.  Watching Angela work with my daughter and how it lit up her spirits brought a tear to my eye!  

We are now about 6 weeks into this and it has brought so much to our lives.  Not only did she shift her mindset on injury, she has been able to learn something brand new with her mom.  ON the mat, we are both students – she likes that.  She gets to see that her mom is far from perfect and this is so important.  We all fall, we all fumble, we all forget, we all get back up and try again.

The class schedule is flexible.  We attend 2 times per week, but it shifts every week as to which days we can make it.  The schedule makes it easy to be able to fit in all that we ask these kids to do every week.  Angela is a strong and inspiring master of her craft.  She creates community. She teaches and demonstrates respect.  She is a wonderful role model for both me and my daughter.

We are at the beginning of this journey and I have already learned so much.  I am looking forward to many years to come!

~Jayme Gamble, White belt

Martial Arts are for the Ages, ALL of the Ages

Taekwondo is an exceptional form of exercise especially for the over fifty crowd. Those of us in that age group start to notice balance issues, lack of flexibility, strength, and endurance. The beauty of Taekwondo is that it can be adjusted to fit the needs of just about anyone regardless of ability and experience.

I am in my late 60s and have used Taekwondo to rehab my body after various surgeries, injuries, and health issues. My balance was a serious problem following my 5th knee surgery. Through consistent, yet modified practice of Taekwondo, it has improved tremendously. Other side benefits were increased flexibility and strength in all areas of my body. Plus my aerobic endurance and energy has improved a hundredfold. In great part to my consistent practice, I am back hiking, biking, dancing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, etc.

As one can see, I reap many benefits from my Taekwondo practice. Another, and very important benefit would include the endearing friendships and camaraderie formed with my peers in our classes.

Taekwondo is my lifeline for a quality lifestyle of mobility, strength, endurance, energy, and friendship.

~Debra Staup, 1st Dan, Age 6-Something

Spring Self Defense

Every spring the club is so busy and caught up with doing seminars, especially self defense seminars. 

This year for the public class at the dojang I partnered with Ms. Ruth Lewinski of McCall Judo teamed up to bring a really well rounded perspective to the self defense mat. There had so much positive feedback for the class and so much interest. We prepped for the biggest class the spring seminar had ever seen. Then, the first night, Jayme came in with a bubbling mix of enthusiasm and anticipation. We chatted, got comfortable and waited, but it was just going to be Jayme. We were able to cover so much content that first night it was amazing. What was even more impressive was seeing that energy in Jayme evolve throughout the class. From anxious and quiet upset (but still composed), to strength and confidence. 

We continued through all of the sessions and at the end checked in with Jayme about her experience and then with each other.

I have the benefit of knowing Jayme off the mat and know her to be a very strong and independent woman who is highly driven. Though it is not the first time this class has seen a confident person enter the seminar and waiver, it is always interesting to me and reminds me how important this is. More importantly how imperative it is for the instructors be attune to their students and help guide them so they can channel their own anxieties and chaotic energy into a powerful inner strength. The student has to take that journey but the instructor is charged with ensuring the student is safe in this space and can make this transition without breaking. Jayme never would have broken but seeing how fast she adapted was awesome. She acknowledged that as well as the physical challenges she endured. Her reflections were so positive, it was inspiring.

It can seem that only having one student would be a deterrent to providing future classes. This could not be further from the truth. Knowing that even just ONE more person is empowered in our community is incredibly rewarding. She will pass that spirit onto all of those around her and her positive experience will encourage others to embrace the challenge.  For Jayme, what an amazing opportunity to work through many extra scenarios and get more practice where she wanted it. It was a win-win for all of us.

Teaching these classes should not be about monetary gain alone. Sure, it would be great to get rich and empower a community but that is not always the case. What it should truly be about is the outcome and benefit to community receives from this seminar. By lifting those around us, even if it is one-by-one, we all will grow and prosper in spirit, body, and eventually in the wallet. 

Ms. Lewinski and I had such a great time. We had never had the opportunity to practice together or really get to know each other. She is such an inspiring and strong young woman. Getting to share this time with her meant so much to me. In martial arts it can be rare to work with another passionate and talented woman, having that chance in a positive space is priceless. This now friendship built on respect is unbreakable. I know together and apart we are going to make a real difference in this world. 

~Master Staup

Oregon State Championship

There are so many things constantly happening in our lives and making space to practice can be difficult. Working odd hours as a ski area snowcat operator full time and teaching part time leads to some creative scheduling to say the least. 

I had registered for the Oregon State Championship with the goal of earning a place to compete at Nationals. I know that I know every form inside and out but I was so drained leading up to the event. We were able to drive to Portland the day before the event, sleep a few hours, and then it was go time. In Taekwondo time that can mean hurry up and wait and wait and wait. 

The young woman I was competing against was very nice and very strong. Due to injury she was pursuing poomsae instead of sparring. We got bounced around from ring to ring and eventually landed in our space. Despite the waiting it all seemed very sudden still and the bit of energy I had stored deep inside me was beginning to wane. 

We competed with some slight changes. We both did well, were crisp, confident, and strong. She won and I qualified.

When I watched tape I can see that what to me feels like me giving it my all does not compare with me giving it my all a few months before. I knew that my 100% wasn't going to be the same but it is still hard to watch. I know it was hard for my co-pilot to watch as well; having traveled with me before and seen some of greatest performances, having given up his weekend to make sure I could accomplish my goal of competing and qualifying it must have been so hard not to compare me today to me at the last event.  Even though for the week leading up I tried to set the stage in my mind and others, that this would not be my "best" performance because of injury and exhaustion, but all I had to do was qualify. I was only there to qualify. Of course doing my best is a part of that, but sometimes we have to accept that our best today is not the same as our best in the past or perhaps the future. 

We have to set goals. Some are overarching and some are for now. I had a realistic goal of qualifying for Nationals and I did that. Every event is a practice in letting go and moving forward with the past acting as a helpful guide, not as a weighted pack. Let the baggage go and learn to be satisfied with today. 

I may not have won Gold but I won my place at Nationals. I met the goal. Now, I move onto the next one. 

~Master Staup

Reflections from the US Open

Las Vegas, Nevada

Sunday - The hustle and bustle about the Westgate Convention Center creates a steady hum. The energy is infectious, even after a rushed flight to McCarran International Airport. Late into the night athletes, coaches, and parents are practicing in the common area while the finishing touches are put into place in the competition area. 

Monday - The opening of the 2018 US Open is much like other large events, there are speakers, there are words of encouragement and pride, but the vibe, the anticipation is unlike any other. Today is primarily poomsae competition. Senior II is called to holding around 9am, we are to compete at 945am, then 10am. We stretch and prepare, laughing as we watch other competitors warm up for the freestyle competition ("Can you believe this? Those guys are doing backflips! There is not enough coffee. *haha*"), kids bounce about unable to focus despite their best efforts, and we watch as these groups filter through holding, out into the rings, Team and Pairs, Freestyle, and so on. 10am comes and goes, we are informed we will compete at 11am. We continue practicing, helping each other, getting input from other coaches, and then we find out that our competition format will be different than expected. We all joke about it and seek out the magical, informative paper. Different poomsae is no problems except none of had prepared for that. We have learned to go with the flow in Taekwondo competition because it never goes quite as planned. Over the speaker we hear our division called and we hop to our feet, but no, he meant to say males, not females, so back to practice we go. Finally, it is after 11am and we are called to the raised, center stage ("We are competing on THAT!?"). We watch as the pairs competition finishes. Their precision and synchronization is inspiring. The winners are declared and now it is our turn. All of us start jogging in place, seeking out unused space to stretch and cram in everything. We glance over and notice all of the judges are gone.....like, gone. What is this about? It is nearly noon. Ah, they are off to lunch. I am receiving only slightly delayed updates which now informs us that Senior II (us) has been called to the center ring and Senior I must wait until after 1pm to compete, we all wonder aloud what that means for our group. My phone is passed among the huddle and to some coaches. We accept our fate with minimal grumbling.  1pm comes and goes. We are taking turns running to the bathroom and getting snacks, as a group we are keeping each other pumped up, joking "This is all part of the competition. Whoever manages to stay warmed up, awake, and doesn't miss the whole thing running to pee will go to semi-finals. It is a much more efficient way to widdle down the competition." I look at Charolette from Denmark. She has been practicing and focusing all day with 100% dedication, she is here to win. The difference between her and most of us is apparent to me. 

Finally, the judges return. We are lined up for a visual inspection of our hair and nails. *Remember, we are not to be flashy. Nails are trimmed and free of color or are French manicured.* The judges announce they have changed the format. There is now a buzz from the grumbling. One coach raises his disapproval. The scene is laughable. Another coach learns of the change and goes to raise his objection. About 20 minutes later another meeting commences to discuss revering. More changes, more time bouncing about, shaking off the building nerves. A young man who has already competed comes to check in with his teammate. They are from a university on the east coast. He gets her pumped up and overhears Allison's and my conversation about what on earth is going on and steps in to explain some of the more confusing aspects of this competition and what to expect and some pro, insider tips. His help is so appreciated. Somewhere in this time I learn our ring is being live streamed. How exiting for friends, family, and fans to watch this!? I alert my family. They are thrilled. The nervousness becomes palpable. 

Now, we compete. I watch with awe as these amazing women from across the country and globe step up with grace and focus and perform with such impressive strength. The change from progressing the top scorers to it being bracketed is so disappointing to me. I see such amazing women lose the change to progress despite their high scores because of this single elimination system. A friend, Allison, steps up to compete and is so strong. Her husband and her whole team comes and cheers loudly for her and welcome with such fervor even though she was eliminated. We discuss what happened and watch the video I took of her and try to find obvious fault. We continue to ponder. Then our attention is brought back to full focus as Charolette from Denmark steps up. Her poise is perfection. Her performance is phenomenal. She or Kathy will win this, they are clearly the best here. And then, my soul wrenches as she loses. Her competitor was good, she has always been good, but the difference between her performance and Charolette's to all of us watching (those well versed in poomsae and new spectators) is clear, cut and dry. Charolette accepts with grace and steps down. Family and friends text about their shock and sympathize with me as all day I have mused on Denmark's superior preparation. My mind is still reeling from this turn of events when I go up. I am competing against Aruba. She is good but I believe I am better. Yet, as many times before, the most subtle of moves must have been picked out, and I lose. We all are confused. I am baffled but not upset. The superior competitor had fallen, how could I be upset about my own loss when that injustice had so recently occurred? I continue to reflect on the turn of events.

Through most of the afternoon my friend Jon has been watching, getting us snacks, discussing and learning about this sport. He offers his outsider view and I appreciate his input through the whole competition. It feels more objective coming from someone who is not closely tied to sport. He represents a group I want to reach. I want the public to be intrigued. People who have known me since childhood have only recently learned of this sport and my place in it, which is mind blowing to me because I have spent so much of my life entrenched in it. This group should know and have respect for these athletes. I am so happy to have a friend here to watch. I am so happy to have someone to support me and to discuss and decompress with now. 

As the round finishes a wheelchair catches my eye. A young woman wheels the man out to the center of an adjacent ring. He pulls himself down to the mat. He bows and begins his pattern. This is like nothing I have ever seen. I have watched para-taekwondo, but it occurs to me I have only seen the board breaking and the fighting. I have never witnessed the poomsae. I watch and reflect with a woman preparing to compete, she is in her 70s. This pushes all disappoint and frustration from me. I love that sports, that my sport, provides an avenue for everyone, all ages, all levels, all abilities. I love that this young man gets to perform and compete. Despite the inefficiencies, the injustices, the annoying pervasive sexism, because of these opportunities I love this sport. 

Allison and I were here for the experience. Like with the ice cream sundae example I share with my students. We love Taekwondo. Getting to do Taekwondo is the ice cream base, delicious. To compete with like minded individuals is a topping, perhaps some nuts or sprinkles. Doing well, perhaps a top 5 finish, is comparable to adding some caramel or hot fudge. Medaling is the whip cream. Winning the cherry. If one walks back each level, the sundae is still delicious, despite losing an added topping. When we get back to the base, the ice cream, our daily dessert, that is what all the training and practice is about. That is really what is worth while. Competition and winning is a luxury. 

Perhaps next year my focus will be different. I went to the US Open, alone, I learned about it, I had the experience, and I made friends. I had the honor to watch amazing athletes of all ages and abilities compete with their hearts on their sleeves. I hugged people I didn't know, sharing their disappointment. I high-fived top finishers. I was reminded what an amazing family I belong to, because Taekwondo is a family.

Now, onward and upward. 

~Master Staup

On Being a Black Belt

This past Saturday, Jack Cady, age 12, passed his black belt examination and is promoted to 1st Poom. 

The journey to this point has not always been an easy one. For almost 7 years, Jack has come almost daily. 

Saturday's test reflects years of learning, not just forms and kicks, but life lessons that will he will continue to visit throughout his life. 

Showing up is not always enough * Attitude dictates the day * Perfect practice leads to a perfect performance * Leadership is not easy * Fundamentals matter * Humility and kindness should guide our actions 

~Master Staup

Lose with Grace

After months and months recovering from physical and financial challenges, Master Staup finally got back into the competition cycle. She spent hours between classes and physical therapy practicing, preparing to enter the ring again. 

UC Open 2017, she enters the mat strong and confident. Her performance reflected her hard work. She is set for 1st place with one last competitor. The woman goes out, performs beautifully and the score is very close. The second poomse performed, the woman does half of the wrong form. It seemed set in stone that Master Staup would get gold, she was elated. Then the scores come up and one judge granted a near perfect score. 

We all looked on in shock. It seemed so unfair. We waited thinking it would be corrected, but it was not. Master Staup looked to her coach who shrugged, and then on in composed but obvious confusion, walked confidently out and accepted her silver medal. 

"It's not over until it is over. Nothing is ever guaranteed and maybe I needed that reminder today. We can work hard, do our best, do everything right, but in the end there is nothing definitive besides an end. It shouldn't take away from everything I have done and the performance I gave. Sure, it is frustrating but there will be another event. For now, I have to let the frustration run its course, let it go, and hold onto the good. We are in the Bay, now it is time to have fun and enjoy the city." 

It is true. Nothing is promised to any of us but an end and we don't necessarily know how anything will end. It does not mean we should not work hard, get strong, stay healthy, eat right, or educate ourselves. All of that helps each of us to determine our best present* and hopefully a better future. Have your best now, lose with grace and confidence, and always walk tall. You are always at your best when you choose to be. 

 

Why Taekwondo?

Every now and then stepping back to take in the moment reminds me why I commit to be here each day. Watching the kids learn to spar, the giggles, the respect, the help the older students offer the newer ones, it fills me with joy.  Seeing these students take a leadership role reaffirms my position. We are all leaders, as each of us willingly steps into the necessary role of the moment, we each grow and learn. The patience they have gained, the perseverance they exhibit, the pep talks they give, it all proves the valuable role martial arts can play in a child’s life. Even the three year olds show great maturity and compassion after a few classes and start to learn the value of the Tenets and the power they have in their body, their hearts, and their minds. Every day is another opportunity to make a difference, to impact someone’s life for the better, and help raise my community


~Master Staup

Mind of a Beginner

Mind of a Beginner

I joined this dodging to learn control over my body and mind and to pinpoint any attack with precision and accuracy. 

Success is measured by how much complete control you have over all of the aspects of Taekwondo. To have control over your mind and body is the ultimate success to me in Taekwondo. 


~Daniel Cope, White Belt

Defining Success

Defining Success

Success to me is setting goals and obtaining them. It is becoming a better person than you were the day before. It is being respected because you have earned it, not because it was given. Success in Taekwondo is in every block, stance, punch, kick, stretch, poomse, seminar, class, and tournament, that you give your best and learn and strive to better yourself and those around you. Success is McCall Taekwondo. 


~Kevin Kober, Adv White Belt




To me, success means to complete a goal. I feel successful in school because I get good grades and I always show up on time. I also feel successful in Taekwondo because I completed my goal of becoming a red belt. 


~Kaylee Kober, Red Belt, Age 9


Success: making goals and decisions and sticking to them even when you are tired; pulling willpower when there's not much left; not living by the expectations of others but by your own standards.


~Mariah Wallace, Adv Blue Belt 

Success - Part 1: Do-The Path

Success Part 1


The air is heavy in the dojang. It is a conditioning night. Uniforms are soaked. The silence is broken by staccato kiaps and the snapping of kicks and punches. Despite the appearance of torture techniques, everyone is full smiles. Crazy, one may think. Yet, these are the smiles of success, hard work, and discipline. 

This is a regular feeling found in sports, but especially in martial arts. After a class or two of hard work, giving 100% and beyond of yourself to the art, it is almost impossible to feel deflated. Martial arts inflate people with confidence and sense of value. Of course, one can argue that athletics in general will cause a chemical reaction in the body, releasing hormones, such as endorphins (feel good hormones), and therefore that is why people feel good. I think martial arts provides an extra ingredient. 

We humans need a mission, a path, a goal, something to keep our eyes on as we move forward each hour and day. Our chosen path keeps us in line, it reminds us of where we are going and why, even on the gloomy, slow days the path encourages us onward. 

Everyday, I leave class feeling satisfied. Everyday, every class, every kick, every student, I work towards a cause. Seeing their success class by class inspires me to continue my mission day by day. 


~Master Staup