Kickin’ it with the black belt brothers

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Kickin’ it with the black belt brothers

IN THE AIR: Mid-jump, sophomore Sean McCulloch soars through the air. Sean has been learning and competing in taekwondo for 14 years. “Everyone thinks if you do taekwondo you’re a ninja and everyone thinks you just go to tournaments and knock each other out,” Sean said. “But that’s not normally the case.”

IN THE AIR: Mid-jump, sophomore Sean McCulloch soars through the air. Sean has been learning and competing in taekwondo for 14 years. “Everyone thinks if you do taekwondo you’re a ninja and everyone thinks you just go to tournaments and knock each other out,” Sean said. “But that’s not normally the case.”

Photo by: Abbey Repka

IN THE AIR: Mid-jump, sophomore Sean McCulloch soars through the air. Sean has been learning and competing in taekwondo for 14 years. “Everyone thinks if you do taekwondo you’re a ninja and everyone thinks you just go to tournaments and knock each other out,” Sean said. “But that’s not normally the case.”

Photo by: Abbey Repka

Photo by: Abbey Repka

IN THE AIR: Mid-jump, sophomore Sean McCulloch soars through the air. Sean has been learning and competing in taekwondo for 14 years. “Everyone thinks if you do taekwondo you’re a ninja and everyone thinks you just go to tournaments and knock each other out,” Sean said. “But that’s not normally the case.”

Abbey Repka, Photo Essay Editor

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Siblings practice martial arts at family-owned academy

Tension fills the room while sophomore Sean McCulloch and senior Timmy McCulloch await to see if they pass their fifth-degree black belt tests. Sean and Timmy both currently learn and compete in taekwondo.

Sean started taekwondo when he was about two-and-a-half years old and has stuck with it ever since.

“My parents own the place so I’m always over there,” Sean said, “Then my brothers started before me and I always saw them doing it and I really want to just join in and do it with them.”

Along with taking taekwondo classes, Sean also helps his parents teach classes to the younger kids.

“Kids that are 13 or younger, I’ll help teach their classes,” Sean said, “I also teach my class which is 14 and up.”

Photo by: Abbey Repka
BREAKING THE BOARDS: In the middle of jumping, Senior Timmy McCulloch prepares to break the boards. Timmy strives to achieve all his goals in taekwondo and to never give up. “Practice and perseverance and not giving up are the hardest parts,” Timmy said.

Sean and Timmy’s mom, Glenda McCulloch, also helps teach classes at Westlake Taekwondo Academy.

“After we met, I spent a year watching him take class with Mr. Johnson, going to many testings and tournaments so before long he and several of the adult students convinced me to join,” Glenda said. “I had been watching and supporting him for so long it was really different being on the other side of the workout floor.”

While teaching classes is fun to Sean, he prefers the competition element where he and his friends battle for bragging rights

“I like the social part about it and going to tournaments and competing with everyone and just seeing my friends compete against me and try to beat them at it,” Sean said.

One common misconception in taekwondo, according to Sean, is that people believe that at tournaments you just go to knock each other, however that is not the case.

“You just go to tournaments to do forms and board breaking and sometimes you do sparring but you don’t knock each other out anymore,” Sean said. “We do more of sports sparring where it’s just fast and you try to score points instead of knocking each other out.”

Tournaments typically take place on weekends and according to Sean, they can take up hours of competing with one another.

“In each ring you will have about three judges and then you can go anywhere from three competitors to 15 in your ring and you will all compete to do forms or you will compete sparring or you will break boards against each other,” Sean said.

Timmy also does taekwondo and he began learning this form of martial art  when he was about four years old.

“[My biggest inspirations are] my parents, they pushed us a lot, and since they own the place we’ve always been apart of it,” Timmy said.

Photo by: Abbey Repka
HELPING TEACH: Senior Timmy McCulloch advises the kids on one steps and two steps. Timmy has been studying taekwondo from a young age due to his parents. “I’ve been doing taekwondo since I was four,” Timmy said. “So 13 years now.”

According to Timmy, there are many challenges in taekwondo, but if you can overcome them, then the reward is amazing.

“Testing for my fourth degree black belt was super challenging,” Timmy said. “I go to class three times a week for practice.”

Sean also agrees with his brother that their parents are their biggest inspirations to keep pushing themselves past the limits and to keep on going even when life is tough.

“My dad has coached me through everything in life,” Sean said. “He’s helped me with taekwondo, he’s always been my baseball coach and he’s gotten me through everything I’ve gone through.”

According to Sean, taekwondo allows learners to view the world in a different way.

“I guess you can say the manner aspect of everything I see differently from most people,” Sean said.

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