How Daniel Found a Hero


“That could be me. I could be Mr. James someday!” Daniel said. 

His mother had just read him the post about Mr. James (pictured above), and it really struck a chord with him. “He sounds a lot like me,” Daniel said.

Daniel had found a hero.

Daniel (whose name is changed to protect his identity) had been with us for a little over two months and just earned his yellow stripe. He was a shy kid, but very attentive. I found that interesting about him. Shy kids don’t usually pay attention very well. But every time I look up, Daniel’s eyes are on me. He always lines up right away. Needless to say, Daniel caught my eye very quickly. 

As he learns, he progresses quickly. He picks up the moves and shows his instructors and fellow students respect. Everything with Daniel is right by the numbers. Outside of the dojang, though, Daniel’s life is…different.

Daniel’s mother is in the process of going through a long, difficult divorce from his father. Daniel has had to endure watching his father verbally and physically abuse his mother. More than that, Daniel himself has been abused and even kidnapped by his father. Daniel’s mother has sole custody, but for reasons beyond my comprehension, his father still has supervised visitation rights. 

To say that the situation with Daniel’s father is a mess would be an understatement. Moreover, the divorce battle is going on in two different states. 

But then, Daniel found a hero in Mr. James.

Daniel’s mother teared up as she told me this. Her story almost brought me to tears as well. By being at our school, even for a short time, Daniel has built up the courage to advocate for himself with his divorce attorneys and counselors.

He says Master Gorino taught him that he has to be strong and that he can be. 

Now, I have never spoken to Daniel about any of this. But he was able to interpret his lessons from class and apply them to his regular life. All on his own. That definitely put a lump in my throat.

Daniel’s story made me think a lot about heroes. I realized that we don’t really have athletic heroes anymore. Even the ones at the pinnacle of their sport are not immune to controversy.

It’s no surprise that Daniel found his heroes here at the dojang and not on the football field or basketball court. He found it in Mr. James, Mr. Kaleb, and in me. As a matter of fact, Mr. James picked me for his “breakfast with my hero” 11 years ago.

I tell my instructors that they are all heroes in waiting. 

I tell my students the same thing: whether you know it or not, you will be a Black Belt someday. And you too will be a hero in waiting. I tell the members of my D.E.L.T.A team that they are always on stage, they will always be looked to for guidance, and they will be role models. So be a good one. 

The old superhero adage goes: “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

Remember the Student Oath

  1. “I will follow the tenets of Tae Kwon-Do”
  2. “I will respect my instructors and seniors”
  3. “I will never misuse Tae Kwon-Do”
  4. “I will be a champion of freedom and justice”
  5. “I will build a more peaceful world”

That reads like something straight out of a comic book to me, right up there with “truth, justice, and the American way” or “in brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.” We want to be champions of freedom and justice. Just like the heroes who said those words. We do this because we aim to build a more peaceful world.

Daniel deserves a peaceful world. 

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!


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