When walking in to Coventry Taekwondo studio as a new student, it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s usually filled with a flurry of sights and sounds that most people aren’t used to, from jump side kicks to board breaks. Oh, and there’s lots of yelling. But after spending a few moments with school owner and chief instructor Penny Beddow-Wolf, most anxiety melts away in the warmth of her welcoming personality.
Mrs. Beddow-Wolf has been involved in Taekwondo since 1983,when her daughter became a martial arts student learning to protect herself. Soon afterwards, Ms. Beddow-Wolf signed herself up. Taking a break for pregnancy, she returned in 1991, and has been in it consistently ever since.
I had the opportunity to talk with her about her Taekwondo experience, and appreciate her candor as she shared her experiences with me.
What has been your greatest personal challenge as an instructor, as well as a martial artist?
Students who give up before achieving the rank of black belt are a challenge to me as an instructor. One of the main tenets of Taekwondo is perseverance. It’s also one of the most difficult ones to impart to students. Personally, my greatest challenge has been coming back from injuries!
What would you consider to be your greatest success as an instructor, and personally as well?
As an instructor, seeing my students succeed is my greatest success. For some it comes easy, and others struggle with board breaks and form memory. Getting to present each student with their new belt is a success for them, and a success for me as well.
Personally, I struggled with my jump round kick board break as I prepared to test for my 2nd degree. I didn’t pass it the first time. After coming back from ACL surgery, I was able to break the board and passed the test. Even though this was a challenge, it was a good experience for me as an instructor, to feel the disappointment of a no-change. I can honestly tell a student that I know how it feels.
What has been the greatest impact Taekwondo has had on your life?
(This question brings tears, as she considers her response). “My family is so much bigger!” Some students start as young as three years old, and stay in it through high school. Each new student becomes part of my family!
What other things do you enjoy doing?
Horseback riding, golf, pretty much any sport. And spending time with my family.
What is a current goal for you personally, and as an instructor?
Personally, I am preparing to test for my 6th degree black belt in June, 2017.
As an instructor, I want to grow my studios, and prepare my instructors to hopefully own their own studios someday.
Penny Beddow-Wolf is an amazing woman with an amazing legacy of impacting numerous lives for the better, including this writer’s life!
– Interview by Ann Dunlap, October 2016