Back when I first started teaching, Master Gorino would joke around with the parents and other students.
“Hey, you see that kid out there?” he would say, pointing to me. “Guess how old he is.”
People would always guess that I was older, and would be shocked to find out that I was only 17 years old. Many of them would come up to me afterward and tell me that they hoped their kids would turn out like me. I definitely attribute that to my Tae Kwon-Do training because, when I got here, I was a bit of a knucklehead. I always wanted to be the jokester. But, Tae Kwon-Do led me down a different path.
Kicking & Screaming
My name is Tyler Maldonado, and I’m a second degree black belt. I have been studying Tae Kwon-Do at Master Gorino’s since I was 10 years old, and have been an instructor here since I was 17.
I came into Tae Kwon-Do kicking and screaming (no pun intended). It was my mother who wanted me to get a black belt. She pushed me in the door on that first day and I don’t want to say that I hated every minute of it, but I was very uncomfortable for the majority of the day. That continued for a couple of months, but I gradually started to warm up to it and eventually made some friends here and found my confidence in Tae Kwon-Do, and beyond.
I wanted to start giving back to the kids, so after a few years as a student, I began helping out with classes and learning about teaching Tae Kwon-Do. Master Gorino was kind enough to take me under his wing and show me the ropes which, honestly, led to me getting yelled at pretty often. I think I was probably in his office getting corrected for one thing or another about once a day. But, I realize that I needed it. And, it helped me become comfortable enough with teaching to add my own flair to teaching.
At first, I was a lot more comfortable teaching younger students. Kids seem more used to absorbing information. They almost WANT to be talked to. As a 17 year old, it was kind of nerve-racking to teach adults. I mean, here’s this 17 year old punk trying to teach a 34 year old how to do a low block. I felt as if it wasn’t my place.
But that got easier over time. I started teaching more, and to a wide variety of people. After a while, you start to realize “Hey! I’m pretty good at this stuff. I actually have something to teach these guys!”
One of the things I love most about teaching is when you walk out on the floor and see how everyone’s day brightens up when they get here, mine included. Unfortunately, you don’t seem to get that with many places you go. You go to work or school and, most of the time, people aren’t smiling. Everyone looks half-asleep and miserable, hating their life. This is kind of the only place that an instructor can walk in and just be greeted by tons of happy people who are genuinely happy to see you. I think that the culture that Master Gorino has developed fosters an environment like that.
My confidence grew gradually throughout my 11 years of training, but I really hit a huge “growth spurt” of confidence once I got out on the floor and started teaching. That confidence is not just confidence in Tae Kwon-Do, it’s confidence in myself.
I have been able to take the confidence I have gained at the dojang and apply it outside of the dojang as well. I can walk around without feeling nervous about being able to protect myself. Tae Kwon-Do is the greatest gift that I have received in my life, and I cannot thank my parents enough for forcing me to do it.
I think that everyone should take a martial art. Whether your in shape, out of shape, tall, short, skinny, not-so-skinny, Tae Kwon-Do is for everyone. I have seen people walk through these doors that were knuckleheads just like me, and I’ve seen them turn out to be something great. I believe that everyone has greatness inside of them, and it’s up to us as instructors to pull it out.
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!