July 1, 2002
Black belt (eeh-ya!) motherhood
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
Sometimes mothers and teenage daughters verbally spar over issues like curfews and body piercings, but two Carnation mothers prefer to physically spar with their daughters. They kick and punch too. They're not engaged in combat over belly button rings, however. Instead they're practicing their martial art moves in a caring way while wearing protective gear. And their practice has paid off. It has earned each a black belt in tae kwon do, a Korean martial art famous for its wide range of kicks. While learning to block, dodge, kick and jump, students are awarded a colored belt according to their level of proficiency and knowledge. The black belt in the world of tae kwon do is equivalent to the Academy Award in the world of cinematic drama.
Wendy Hunt and her daughters Haley, 14 and Heather 13, and her friend Barbara Hole and daughters Jordan 15, and Danielle, 12, learned May 28 that they had all passed their black belt test given the earlier part of the month at Park's Martial Arts in Woodinville. No easy task. According to Master Park, teacher and owner of the school, it's unusual when a woman earns a black belt. More men than women pursue the black belt path. Therefore, it's record-breaking when two mothers and four daughters earn their black belts together. "This is the first time," says Park, stating that there has never been any other mother-daughter team to achieve black belt status at his school for the past sixteen years he's been in business. To qualify as a black belt, a student must learn an enormous amount of Korean terminology for different kicks, punches and strikes. In addition, they must perform nine dance-like forms, with each form having 16 to 25 movements. They're also required to know 42 self-defense moves and successfully complete the final test. "For our final test we had to break boards with our hands and with our feet," says Wendy Hunt, daughter of Ed Randal who pastors Northwest Evangelical Presbyterian in Woodinville. Offering advice to people who might wince at the thought of attempting a feat that involves their hand slamming into a board, Hunt says, "You think you can't. But it really isn't as hard as it sounds." She says the board is thin and pine and the secret to breaking it lies in the way the hand is pulled back before striking and in the way a person thinks. "It's a mental thing," she says. "You try to think through the board to the floor." If a person attempts the move and doesn't succeed, she says it will not only hurt their hand, but also undermine their confidence. In the past, when failure occurred for the two mothers and four daughters, they were able to bounce back because they had each other for reassurance. "Sometimes we wanted to quit and there was discouragement like in any sport," says Hunt, explaining that there were many movements to learn and at times she didn't feel like going on. "You hit walls," she says. "But we encouraged each other, it was good to be a group." She says the most challenging part was keeping all the forms straight. "Sometimes you'd blank," she says. "I'd get halfway through something and think, 'oh my goodness, what do I do now?'" The best part of studying tae kwon do, she says, was doing it with her daughters. "The neatest thing is learning together and to be students together. I think it brought us closer." Barbara Hole agrees, "That was a really special part for me being able to take tae kwon do with my daughters." She, Jordan and Danielle worked their way up in a team effort, moving from their original white belts, to yellow, orange, on up to red, then black. Says Hole, "We worked hard and we practiced together. It reminded me of college, working hard for a big test."
Hole seems amazed at how far she and her daughters have taken their abilities. "I never thought we would get this far." Actually, in the beginning, Hole never even thought of taking one lesson in the martial arts. Originally, she and Hunt had taken their daughters to Park's for tae kwon do lessons as part of their homeschool physical education requirement. As they were signing up the four girls, Master Park offered the two mothers a free class. Both moms thought they'd give it a try and discovered they actually enjoyed it. "It was a kick," says Hunt. "It was a lot of fun and we kept with it. And, it was good exercise. We didn't do it to be achievement-oriented." That was three years, and many colors of belts, ago. "Having friends and doing it together really encouraged us," says Hole.
Master Park says that tae kwon do builds flexibility, speed, physical fitness, self-defense skills, concentration and self-confidence.
He says that the technique of splitting wood with the hand serves as an example of self-confidence boosting. "The power comes from inside, from their confidence and concentration," he says. He also explains that 'do' in the word tae kwon do means 'way of life' as the art teaches life skills, such as stress management and goal setting.
On Saturday, June 1, the two mother-daughter teams were officially awarded their black belts in a ceremony that honored their success as well as celebrated Park's sixteenth anniversary in business. The ceremony included demonstrations from other masters as well as from the mothers and daughters of the Hunt and Hole families.
Looking back at how it all began, Hole says, "When we started getting into the higher belts, Master Park would encourage us to continue and say, 'Oh! I'm going to have six black belts!'"
And now he does. Hunt and Hole credit his patience and encouragement to much of their success. "
He was really neat. He would talk with us and hold devotionals," says Hunt. Hole adds, "He's a very special person." Master Park says the mother-daughter black belts had an influence on him too. "They're good Christian, humble, happy charming people." he says. "I learn from them."