Miss Elizabeth Dunlap, 2nd degree black belt, age 18, Coventry Taekwondo
Elizabeth was a reluctant martial artist, pushed into it by her parents. As a home schooled student, she needed something to count as Physical Education. Although getting to her introduction class was difficult, a mere half hour with instructor Penny Beddow-Wolf had her hooked. Her parents were frequently asked if she smiled as much at home as she did at the studio. She had obviously found her niche. After achieving her black belt, the question of becoming an instructor was met with equal reluctance, but now that she’s been teaching for close to three years, it has become a huge and positive part of her life.
Years involved in taekwondo: about 6
Greatest personal challenge as an instructor: Getting up and speaking in front of people. Standing up in front of a class with all the eyes of student as well as parents fixed on her was pretty terrifying. Prior to this experience, Elizabeth was pretty shy, and very uncomfortable talking to people she didn’t know.
Greatest personal challenge as a martial artist: Memorizing weapon forms. Belt forms and one-steps seem to come so much more easily than weapon forms.
Greatest success as an instructor: She’s been teaching long enough now that she is seeing kids she taught as white belts achieving their black belts. Knowing how hard they try, and seeing how they persevere is the best feeling she gets as an instructor. “It’s great when you invest yourself in someone, and you are there to share in their success, to hug them after their black belt is tied on. It feels great!”
Greatest success as a martial artist: The last time she competed in a tournament, she placed above a girl she considers to be a formidable opponent. Prior to that, Elizabeth placed last in her ring. The improvement in her form in just a few months made that possible, and it felt great.
Greatest impact of taekwondo on her life: It’s hard to choose, so she names two. One is in her level of confidence. People have commented on her posture (“I used to slouch a lot!”), her eye contact, and even her confidence in learning to drive. The second great impact is the giant awesome family she has now. She’s considered to be like a big sister to so many of the younger kids in her studio, and being essentially an only child (her siblings are much older than she is), having little studio siblings is a huge plus. But the family goes beyond those at Coventry – her ATA family extends to all areas of the country. Facebook is great for keeping the friendships that you make at tournaments alive. “We may not see each other often, but we have so much in common because of ATA!”
Non-taekwondo activities: Taekwondo fills up a lot of time, as does finishing up her senior year of high school. Baking, babysitting, and doing other people’s makeup are things she likes to fit in when time permits.
Current goal as an instructor, and personally as a martial artist: Achieving her level two instructor’s collar, which will hopefully happen soon. Also, she hopes to be ready to test for 3rd degree black belt by the end of this year.
Non-taekwondo goals: Elizabeth is exploring her options for college, and is considering pursuing a path as a child psychologist.