There are a lot of stereotypes about martial arts, but according to senior Michelle Massie, who has just received her black belt in Tang Soo Do, most of them are untrue. Unlike the movies, she has never had the opportunity to save a cat from a burning building or to rescue an old lady from an oncoming out-of-control bus with her martial arts magic. She isn’t a “ninja” or a “samurai” and sorry, no, she can’t fly. Don’t be too skeptical, the kicks she learns during class do in fact make her seem to hover in the air just a little longer and go a little farther then seems humanly-possible. The trick is, she reveals, just a matter of leaping up in the air and lifting the foot used to jump off the ground with the rest of you.
Becoming a black belt is no insignificant occurrence; students who undertake the challenge to obtain the highest rank known to the martial arts world go through intense training sessions, long hours, and have extreme dedication that lasts years. The skills they learn help them even in everyday life. “You become so aware of your surroundings, always, all the time. Your reflexes are faster too.” says Michelle. Very few people ever reach this legendary status.
Michelle has been going to the Falls Church Recreational Center since the 5th grade to learn Tang Soo Do, a similar art to Tae Kwon Do. When she first began, it was just to appease her parents and to learn some self defense. After studying Tang Soo Do for a while, Michelle grew to love the sport. “I just love the people,” she said.
Michelle still goes to the
Right now, Michelle is unsure of how she will continue with martial arts. “I was thinking that after I got my black [belt] I could move on and do different styles of fighting like weapons or kick boxing. I’m not sure about the future but I’d love to try anything new.” There are ten degrees of black belt and even fewer complete many degrees. Michelle guesses that it would take about eight years to reach the tenth and final degree. Whatever she chooses, her options seem wide open; Michelle has proven that she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to.
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