My journey in the martial arts started when I was 13 in Marietta, GA when I joined a Shotokan Karate school. I studied up until I was 17 when I joined the U.S. Army. I earned my Cho 1st Dan in that art. I was introduced to Taekwon-do during my first stint in the Army. I earned my Yellow belt. I was deployed a lot during this time in the Army so I did not spend very much time learning TKD. I got out of regular Army and joined the Army National Guard moving to the home town of my wife, Bonners Ferry, ID in 1993. In 1994 a Taekwon-do school opened up and I joined the school. The instructor, my friend, let me help instruct the lower classes of children because of my Shotokan background and strong tournament experience. In 1997 I earned my 1st Dan and became a full assistant instructor. In 1998 the owner had to move and she sold her part of the school to our 5th Dan who was the other partner owner. He continued teaching Taekwon-do with my friend and me as the assistant instructors at his house. In 1999 I earned my 2nd Dan and my friend earned his 3rd Dan. In 2001 my friend went away to college, I took a job in Alaska, and our 5th Dan moved to Texas to help medical trauma studies there (he taught other doctors in trauma medicine). I practiced when I could but it was not steady during the time period of 2001-2010. I was deployed during this time to Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. During my deployment to Afghanistan in my life took a drastic turn when I was injured due to a a suicide car bomb hitting the vehicle I was in while providing security for U.S. Ambassador Chris Dell on November 16, 2008.
I was inpatient for six months, then they let me come back home to Bonners Ferry to continue my healing in August of 2009 mainly due to my wife becoming ill at the time. In 2010 I heard about another Taekwon-do school that had opened up while I was away overseas. My doctor was against me getting back into Taekwon-do because of my injuries, but I knew the TKD would help. I needed something; I was determined that I was not going to let disability become my life nor be on painkillers. I joined the school. The way I did my forms was different. In this I mean the school did not breathe as ITF does nor did it practice sine wave theory (hip rise level sink) of movements. I decided to return to ITF Chang Huhn patterns as my main form of personal practicing and improvement. In 2011, I recertified with the American Athletic Union Taekwon-do program. In 2012 I decided, despite my condition, despite what they doctors told me I could not do, and despite my rustiness, to go ahead and try a competition the North Idaho Karate Classic open invitation. Because of my age and years in martial arts and that there just were not enough competitors in my bracket; I was put into the master’s division; even though I am still only a 2nd Dan in Taekwon-do; wow! I did earn 3rd place in patterns and sparring. I did ITF pattern Kwang-Gae. I stayed with the school until fall 2012 when I had to have more surgeries and then I was medically discharged (retired) out of the Army in 2013. After the medial discharge I took a job in law enforcement and moved to a new town. I practiced very little Taekwon-do until January of 2016. Little did I know that in three short years I would be brought back to Taekwon-do in full.
My 16 yr. daughter from another relationship had run into some trouble in fall of 2015. She had become a victim to various crimes that involved physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of cruel adults and as a result of trying to cope she became addicted to drugs. It was decided that she come and live with me and my wife to help her. When she arrived, she was a broken girl. While working and supporting her during her recovery she mentioned that she wanted me to teach her martial arts so that she, as a young woman, would not be taken advantage of (used) so easily ever again. I started training her in January of 2016. In April of 2016 we came to a point where I asked her if she wanted to learn the full art of Taekwon-do and not just self-defense. She did. I thought for a while and decided to go back to true ITF Taekwon-do. I knew that ITF Taekwon-do as General Choi Hong Hi created it could possibly become the pillar in her life she needed to aid in her recovery and continued success. She agreed to learn Taekwon-do and it is here that she has found healing and strength. She discovered the Tenants, the Student Oath, and Moral Culture of Taekwon-do. She discovered that it was these things that truly give Taekwon-do its power.
Now more than ever I understand what General Choi Hong Hi meant when he described his vision and deeper meaning of what Taekwon-do should be in the world we live in. I now understand and witness the true power of Taekwon-do in my daughter every day. It is not revealed through her ability in performing front snap kicks, turning kicks, punches, or even her patterns; which she does well. No, I see it when she smiles and has a look of dignity again after all she has been through.
My daughter shared with her health teacher at high school she was learning Taekwon-do to help with her healing and recovery process. The teacher asked if I would teach her children Taekwon-do to help boost their confidence and build self-esteem since it has shown so much positive results in my daughter. So, here I am back with and teaching Taekwon-do. Our goal is to open a Taekwon-do school in a couple of years to help spread the martial art that has become a very happy, crucial, spiritual, and healthy part of my family’s life; ITF Taekwon-do.
AUTHOR: Lawrence Jefferson II