Martial Arts: A Different Path to Success

The Confidence Club has had a formative and positive influence on the life of a talented young athlete, Czarnest Dela Cruz. Czarnest was recently invited to represent the Club in Colorado Springs at the Junior National Team Trials in April of this year. His success comes as no surprise to others in the Club, knowing that he has been training in Tae Kwon Do under such skilled practitioners as Johnny Kidd (who will be accompanying Czarnest to Colorado) and Shahona Rogers, other Confidence Club success stories.

Johnny, 19, and Shahona, 21, are no strangers to championships. In 2001, Johnny placed in the 27th U.S. National Tae Kwon Do Championship. In April of 2003, Shahona won a silver medal in the junior state championship at the Indiana State Tae Kwon Do Tournament. Championships, however, are only part of the rewards that Johnny and Shahona have received as members of the Confidence Club. Both agree that one of the main rewards is the family atmosphere that exists there. According to Shahona, “The people here are like one big family.” Though Shahona believes that Tae is an art form that involves some individuality, both she and Johnny agree that it is also a team effort. “When someone’s in the ring,” explains Johnny, “we always have team members there to watch and push them forward beyond where they might have gone individually.” Johnny has been experiencing this type of sportsmanship for 13 years, and Shahona for six years. Johnny credits his motivation to continue competing to his desire to exceed in all that he does. He says, “I look forward to seeing what I can do and going even higher.” Both Johnny and Shahona say the competitiveness is physically and emotionally demanding: “You have to give 100 percent; otherwise, there’s no use in being here,” explains Shahona. Shahona became involved in Tae Kwon Do through her mother, who was a friend of Sandy Wright, Administrator for the Confidence Club. Johnny’s interest developed in the first grade, when the Confidence Club started a program at his school. Following that introduction, he saw a competition on television, and his father signed him up for classes. Despite the length of his involvement in the Confidence Club, Johnny denies ever wanting to give it up. He states, “Tae is a big part of my life, I can’t be without it.” Shahona admits, “There’ve been times I’ve been frustrated with myself, but if you can work past that, then you’ll know it’s always going to be a part of your life. It’s a sport that permeates every part of your life, like learning self-control, self-discipline, and how to achieve goals. It has impacted my schooling.”

Shahona is currently in her senior year in college, where she is majoring in Forensics. Johnny is a freshman at Herron School of Art and is majoring in Art Education. When asked if they have ever experienced failure with competing, both Johnny and Shahona feel that they have not. “As long as you give your best,” says Johnny, “you’ve achieved your goal.” With regard to the subject of steroid abuse in competitive sports, neither Shahona nor Johnny take the issue lightly: “I don’t understand,” says Shahona, “how someone can find their achievement rewarding when they …didn’t work hard for it, but used drugs instead. I would find it shameful.” Johnny adds, “I don’t see how someone can not put in the work and then feel happy by just popping pills. That would be failure to me.” What would life be like without the Confidence Club and involvement in Tae Kwon Do? “I don’t want to imagine,” says Shahona. “I feel like life would be empty … I don’t know what I’d do.” Johnny concurs, stating, “It would be empty. If I didn’t have somewhere to come relax, I don’t know what I’d do. The combination of my dad and here has kept me in line. If you don’t have heart for this, you won’t make it. Our instructor, John Wright, always says you have to kick with your heart and not your feet.”