By Gwendolyn Gutierrez 1st Dan
I started Taekwondo in 2006 when I was 2 years old with my older brother. Throughout these 11 years I have wanted to give up multiple times but then my brother always reminded me to keep pushing and trying my best no matter how hard it was. He has given me opportunities that I wouldn't have if I joined without him. Having family in Taekwondo gives you a bigger advantage than anything else.
Every single time that I have gotten new moves in the past, my instructor would always tell me to practice them at home. Especially when you're younger, it's hard to stay accountable on practicing those moves. The beautiful thing about having family in Taekwondo is they can help you keep that accountability so you don't get distracted and forget to practice. Also, if your family knows to the same place or further on patterns or one-step sparring, they can help you with anything that you're struggling with. This helped me a lot because I would forget difficult moves easily so one day if I needed help I could just ask my brother and he would usually have an answer. My favorite part about having family at home that does Taekwondo is getting help on homework. Every month when the CTI homework comes out, it's hard to make sure you're on top of it and keep track of it. When you have family there to do it with you, it's a lot easier to finish it. But it's not only homework. This past year when my brother and I had to fill out training charts for the Sweden and Norway world tour, we would forget to fill it in a lot. Then we came up with a system to sit down at a table together right after dinner and fill them out together and we actually started to keep up with our charts.
One of the hardest things that I always struggled with in Taekwondo was motivation. There was like a 6 month period where I didn't really have anything pushing me towards that black belt. But then I reached that age where i realized having a sibling motivated me. Having family in Taekwondo pushes you to get better and work harder than them. Suddenly I had a goal to reach and even though it may sound a little stupid and childish, it helped me in extraordinary ways. It helped me see what I was finally going to get in the end even without having it. As I got out of wanting to work harder than my brother, the motivation was still there. Without that motivation to want to be better, I wouldn't be who I am today inside and outside of Taekwondo.
Family can be a powerful thing when it comes to any activity or sport. I got lucky to be being able to participate in martial arts for families. A lot of people don't have that luxury. Even though siblings can be very annoying at times, they are always still very helpful. I think that if you're going to join Taekwondo, do it with a sibling, your parents or any family member, because, trust me, it definitely pays off. I wouldn't have my black belt if it were for having family in Taekwondo and I will always vouch for that.