I am Mr. Perdue’s 1st student. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say. I wanted to write a reflective piece about my 20 years with Mr. Due!
When we first met, I was 7 years old and the school was not even built yet. There was no carpet on the floors (this is before puzzle mats were even available) and the railing was half installed. As I remember it, my mom and I were looking in the window of the school and Mr. Perdue came out to say hello from the cleaners next door. He told us who he was and that the school was opening soon. I told him “I already watch power rangers I know what I’m doing!” He laughed and took our information. He even let me kick a target. I came back for class a few weeks later. Once I finally got started I loved it!
I am currently a 5th degree black belt, married, and own my own small business. However when I started, I was a 7 year old shy kid that dealt with bullying just like a lot of kids do now. Right around the time I got started with TKD I got dubbed by a few kids in school “Power Ranger Kid” Not because I did martial arts, but because I had this really really cool Power Ranger shirt I used to wear to school. It hurt my feelings at the time when they called me that, but martial arts gave me the confidence to let it just glance off of me and not really bother me too much. Partially because Mr. Perdue playfully called us names like Goober (which I learned was a southern term for Peanut. I sounded even more southern back then, if you can imagine that), knuckle head and the like. So very soon, being called the “power ranger kid” didn’t bother me at all.
Over the years, I would meet some of my best friends in class and make some great lifelong connections through different taekwondo events. I have been to 14 summer camps, 6 black belt conferences and probably close to 50 tournaments. I learned that it didn’t matter if you win or lose. I didn’t get my first medal until I was a 2nd Degree. But at those events, I have met some of the most fun and talented people who push me to get better every time we get together. I learned that you really compete against yourself more than anyone else.
One of the things in the past 20 years I always have to give Mr. Perdue props for is he still spars TODAY…he still works out hard TODAY…and he is still scary TODAY. I have seen Mr. Perdue with a broken nose keep sparring at testing, break his foot just before testing and test anyway, break his wrist and kept breaking wood at a charity event, broke his chin and keep riding, I don’t know too many people who can say they pushed through life like that. I think in 20 years I have learned more from that than anything. Sometimes life won’t go your way, but you just need to keep pushing hard and it will all work out for the best. Not too many people know I’ve had 3 “no- changes” but after each time I learned and got much better because of it.
As I am writing this and trying to think of how to condense 20 years of memories into a short blog and not make this require chapters to finish, but I will leave you with one of my coolest memories of the past 20 years. Nation testing January 2010, I was a 3rd degree senior testing for 4th degree and Mr. Perdue was a 5th degree testing for 6th degree. For those of you who don’t know, going from a 5th degree to 6th is your last testing ever. 6th degree is considered Master. The only 2 people testing from our school were the two of us, which is odd because Westerville usually tests anywhere from 5- 10. Before we went out I said, “Perdue we are going out with 8 bars between us, and we’re coming back with 10!” Of course during sparring I got a cut in my eyelid and had to keep going…just like I planned right? But sure enough for his last testing he passed and became 6th degree and I passed and became 4th degree. I still feel like from being the shy, first student I was, to testing next to my instructor and both of us passing was such a memorable experience I’ll never forget.
I am excited for the next 20 years and me becoming a 6th degree Master soon myself in only 2.5 short years! If you are not taking class somewhere, give it a shot because I had fun at age 7 and I still enjoy this just as much at age 27. See you at the next event!