What it takes: the mentality behind martial arts

Perry is home to a surprisingly small amount of martial artists, with only a handful practicing taekwondo. That handful, though, has found that the mental aspect of the sport is just as important as the physical aspect.

Senior Anthony Tunstall, a two-time silver state medalist in sparring and a national qualifier, has been doing taekwondo for over seven years. He got started because a friend asked him to go, and he’s loved it ever since.

“Taekwondo is a foot martial arts,” said Tunstall. “It specializes in kicks and a few hand movements. It’s really helped me with self-defense and being a good athlete. It’s taught me a lot about respect and discipline and helped me become a well-rounded individual.”

The International Taekwon-Do Federation defines the general curriculum for taekwondo schools, and with the typical anaerobic exercises and board-breaking comes teaching meditation, etiquette, and respect.

“My favorite part is honestly the competing and the experience, the lifestyle of taekwondo,” Tunstall said. “It’s great, practicing such a respectful sport. I’ve learned so much not only about it, but also about the history and different masters.”

Etiquette and manners impressed Tunstall when he first started. “It was different to have to refer to everyone as sir or ma’am. They always stress the importance of listening and helping others and that kind of stuff.”

However, senior Tristin Nguyen finds the physical aspect to be his favorite. “I’ve been doing it for four and a half years.” Nguyen said. “Physically, it helps me be more agile and flexible. Mentally, I’m much more confident in myself.”

Nguyen started his taekwondo training after his uncle signed him up out of the blue and made him go. He was nervous, but come the first tournament he had achieved first in board breaking and second in sparring at his school.

Now, sparring is his favorite.

“It’s my favorite part because it’s so competitive,” Nguyen said. “It can be repetitive and sometimes it feels like I’m not improving, or it can get boring, but when we get to do it, it’s great.”