ELKO – A young man who recently achieved a black belt in taekwondo said it was an accomplishment that has changed his life.
Along with physical testing, each student attaining a higher level is required to write an essay.
“Taekwondo has helped me and challenged me physically, but the most notable changes have been mental,” wrote Chris Pope, the first student promoted to black belt by Integrity Martial Arts.
“Integrity Martial Arts is where we teach martial arts and self-defense,” said sensei Nory Greer, head instructor at the school.
Pope said he was diagnosed with mental disabilities at a young age. He was labeled “autistic” and prescribed medication.
“Some medications changed my personality completely,” he wrote.
Other medication made him extremely hyperactive. Coming off of medications was even worse, Pope wrote.
His parents signed him up for taekwondo when he was in fourth grade. On his first day he learned the five tenets: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and admirable spirit. He wanted to be good at each.
“Perseverance was the first of the tenets to change my life,” Pope wrote. “One of the most important sayings I ever heard was that a black belt is nothing more than a white belt that never quit.”
According to Pope, self-control was a difficult tenant to learn. “I acted, I didn’t think,” he wrote.
In fifth grade Pope was also diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This made it difficult for Pope to concentrate.
“After practicing for five years and working with sensei I found I could suddenly stand still,” Pope said. “I no longer had to swing my arms or bounced on my toes.”
“We are all very proud of this young man’s accomplishment,” Greer said.