Hard Hitting


Charlston Stovall, Writer

Taekwondo is a form of martial arts famous for its variety of kicks. Indeed, the common conception of this sport is its purpose as a means of self defense. Senior Samantha Neutzling, an avid practicer of the sport, expands on this understanding of the classic art: “Taekwondo isn’t just about fancy moves – it’s about how to defend yourself in any type of situation, how to keep your emotions in control, and how to stay organized.”

Taekwondo prepares the fighter to face dangerous situations and react properly with the techniques he or she has developed. “Being a woman, people can take advantage of me and could steal from me, but I can use self defense when the time comes,” says Freshman Easha Verala as to the positives results of her training.

The discipline involved with earning a black belt tests a person’s character. This process involves more than doing moves from a kung-fu movie. Fighters must complete a written essay, run for miles under a specific time limit, engage in rigorous stretches, know the 10 traditional forms by heart, and be able to perform them in front of judges and instructors. All of this takes time to achieve, which teaches the values of hard work, commitment, and dedication.  

Senior Sam Neutzling demonstrates a kicking formation.

“It took me four years to earn my black belt, and it was worth it,” says Freshman Tracy Neutzling. “Once I earned my black belt, I looked at things differently. I saw that I was more capable than anything.” Neutzling elaborates, “Taekwondo taught me that I deserve respect from others and that I was worthy of self-confidence.”

The martial art serves to even “[relieve] stress because it’s a way to relax as well,” says Verala. “Powerful” is how she best describes this form of defense.

Taekwondo cannot be judged by its cover because it is more than just martial arts and defending oneself. Inevitably, by learning to adapt to one’s surroundings, to be aware, to pour dedication and commitment into a practice, one’s character transforms. What emerges is internal strength and confidence.

Most likely, these principles are what have kept fighters interested in the sport for years and years. “Respecting an old sport and hard work is what Taekwondo is,” advocates Tracy Neutzling.