TCHS Rampage

Temple City High School


December 11, 2017

Kicking it with Chu and He

On Oct. 28, Senior Kitty Chu shattered three wooden boards with a kick and let out a mighty yell before she stood at attention. All of Chu’s instructors and masters, who all played a pivotal role in her growth as a martial artist, stood before her, ready to test the extent of her Taekwondo knowledge and personal character.
Five years ago, Chu set a goal to become a first degree black belt in Taekwondo. As of Oct. 28, she has taken her black belt test and is awaiting her results. In order to pass the exam, Chu has to pass both a physical and mental test. Over the years, Chu has put in over 100 hours bringing herself closer to her goal.
For the physical portion, the test requires a physical conditioning test, attendance at four tournaments, mastery over four forms of both defense and attack movements, 14 techniques for one-step sparring, breaking and break fall.
“This was definitely the hardest part of the test,” Chu said. “I trained for weeks committing the steps and techniques to memory and worked to keep myself as fit as possible.”
For the mental test, Chu was required to write four essays reflecting their knowledge of Taekwondo, and their past, present and future in the martial art. To prove their responsibility, they were all given an egg to take care of over the course of two weeks.
“I really had to reach deep to come up with some answers,” Chu said. “I hope that my dedication and passion for the sport really shows in my writing.”
The path to become a black belt takes discipline, time and work, but in the end, the rewards and achievement far surpass the work required.
“One of the biggest influences Taekwondo has had on me is bringing me out of my comfort zone,” Chu said. “It pushes me to try my best and never give up because ultimately, my mind is my limit. Taekwondo did all this to me and more. I learned lessons I will never forget and for that, I will forever be grateful.”


From Monday to Thursday, during the afternoon, you can find Senior Kelly He at Gracie Barra in Pasadena with sweat pouring down her face as she grapples her sparring partner, forcing them to concede.
Four months ago, He began attending Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessin hopes of breaking the stereotype that small girls can’t fight back.
“You’ll see that a girl who trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu isn’t just some damsel in distress,” He said. “I’ve seen a 4’10 girl in my academy who’s only a year older than me spar with a coach- that’s 200 plus pounds- and put up a serious fight.”
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that mainly focuses around grappling and ground fighting, typically using joint locks and chokes designed to be used against opponents of any size.
At the moment, He is at a white belt with one stripe, which is one rank above beginners. After earning four more stripes, He can be promoted to a blue belt and eventually make her way up to black, after earning three belts.
To earn a stripe, He has to demonstrate improvement and prowess in her technique to her instructors. To rank up, it will take He about a year to promote belts.
“My friends used to tease me for being petite and easily taken advantage of,” He said. “But, ever since I sparred with a black belt in Taekwondo and won, that’s no longer the case.”
Along with her newfound fighting prowess, He found benefits way beyond the sparring ring. Initially she thought it was for self-defense, but eventually, it grew into something much more for her.
“Ever since I started, I’ve grown to be genuinely more confident,” He said. “The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu environment kind of pushes me to learn a skill at an exponential rate that makes my brain feel like it’s fully engaging. I developed a lot more motivation, devotion and discipline through it and also helped me realize that my size is an asset, not an inconvenience.”

About the Author

Timothy Trac



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