KOMA Learns from Alexa Prim
In our previous blogpost, Mr. Jon Umsted of Yummylicious Cookie Company shared with us the story of his company. This time, we are featuring Ms. Alexa Prim, a third degree black belt and recent graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma. Ms. Prim has practiced taekwondo since she was six years old, and has inevitably picked up several noteworthy life lessons along the way. I asked her some questions about these lessons, and here are her responses:
1. What has your taekwondo journey looked like?
My taekwondo journey started when I was 6 years old. I actually only went to the class because my little sister, Jessica, wanted to try it out and I "had" to go to watch after her (according to my mom). I will never forget my first class; I was so nervous that I started to cry! It took Master Bronson Ko a long time to get me to even come out onto the floor (because I was clinging to the chairs!) My little sister just jumped right into the class and acted like she had been a student for years! I finally built up the courage to leave my parents and participate in classes. Through a lot of time, practice, and frustration, I achieved my first black belt at nine years old. I continued to attend classes, learned more, and eventually continued to test for subsequent black belts.
By this point, I was a young teenager and the studio had become my second home. When Master Ko opened his own studio in Leawood, he asked me to come work as an assistant instructor. It was my first official job! I absolutely loved it. Master Ko taught me how to teach students of all ages and backgrounds. This was very intimidating for me because I had to learn how to teach students who were three or four times my age. I also learned how to communicate with students' parents and their families. Working as an assistant instructor also reminded me that if you do not know something well enough to teach it to someone else, then you do not know it well enough... and it's back to practicing.
When I was about 15 years old, Mr. Seth Wilson joined the studio and he taught me how to spar. I had always been afraid to spar because I was always smaller than my partners (and a bit of a scaredy-cat.) From there I fell in love with the competitive side of taekwondo and I began to travel around the Midwest competing. My love for sparring took me to the University of Central Oklahoma, where I was offered a scholarship as a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Site at the university. There, I focused on sparring with coach Jason Poos. I eventually made the B-team for the 2014 National Team and I competed in the PanAm Championships. That trip really opened my eyes as to what it is like to be an elite level athlete. When I returned home from the tournament, I decided that I wanted to focus on my studies and I retired from competing.
2. What type of challenges do you face as a student?
When I was competing and doing my undergraduate work, my biggest challenge was time management. I had to plan out every day to the hour, especially if I was going to be traveling to a tournament or have a training camp that interfered with my studies or classes. It is really easy to skip class and sleep in. Just like being a taekwondo student, it is easy to stay home and watch your favorite TV show, tell yourself you are too tired and skip on taekwondo class. The same is true in college. It was my goal every semester that I did not miss a single class no matter what AND that I was on time.
3. Has there ever been a time where you have wanted to quit taekwondo? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes! I can count on two hands how many times I told myself I wanted to quit. When I was a kid, my parents refused to let me quit taekwondo until I got my black belt. Then I got my black belt and I saw how much more there was to learn (all the cool forms and board breaks and black belt perks there were)! When it came time to go to class, there was always something else that I would rather be doing. I cannot tell you how many hangouts with friends, games, sleepovers, etc. that I missed because I went to taekwondo class instead. At the time I was not happy about missing those things but that was just temporary. Now looking back, I am glad I put taekwondo first. How many people can say they are a third degree black belt? Not many and I am proud of that.
Thank you to Ms. Prim for sharing with us your story to success, as well as the lessons you learned along the way. Taekwondo teaches that you should forever remain a student; learning continues no matter the age, experience, or level of education.