Mrs. Chris Jorgenson: A Statement of What I'm Gaining from Taekwondo

ATA Leadership NOW

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Because I'm in the Leadership program at my ATA school, my Instructor asked me to think of a way to serve others in my town. I decided to pick up trash at a park near my house so that kids like me would have a clean place to play. My Mom and Dad and even my little brother helped. It was kinda gross, but I had fun. I really like helping people!
– Paxton Thomas, Yellow Belt, 9 years old

Leadership Profiles

Mrs. Chris Jorgenson: A Statement of What I'm Gaining from Taekwondo

Invited by her ATA Instructor to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), a mother of four and color belt trainee perseveres to become one of ATA's first Presidential Champion Gold Medal Winners. In her own humble words this is her story:

Mrs. Chris Jorgenson shows off the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) she earned in June 2011 as one of ATA's first students to win the President's Challenge with ATA Leadership NOW. She persevered to win a Gold medal as Presidential Champion and is now racing for Platinum. What a leader!

Back in March my Instructor Mr. Ryan Arndt, 5th Degree Black Belt, of ATA Martial Arts in Devils Lake, North Dakota, was talking to the Leadership students about ATA's desire to support the President's Challenge, and encouraged us to participate since we "represent" ATA. I spend four evenings a week at ATA Martial Arts, so I thought I can certainly participate in the PALA program. Once I started logging my activity and realized that the President just wants people to be active, I realized that so much of what I already do in a day was on the official list of activities. Sometimes I think we forget that we are working our bodies when we vacuum the house, rake the yard, play with the kids... all of these are things that most of us do and all of them can be logged on the PALA website.

I'll be turning 40 in a month or so and being active and in good shape is very important to me, especially as someone working to become a Black Belt and an ATA instructor. I want my physical well-being to be a statement to others about what I am gaining from taekwondo along with the self-defense and character building. Something like the PALA Challenge to me is an easy way to push myself to be active whether in taekwondo, around the house, taking more time outside of class to work on forms or exercise. Currently, I rank 4th out of the 105 ATA members doing the PALA Challenge, since I have completed the PALA Challenge I am now doing the Presidential Champions Challenge. I will eventually earn a gold award and purely for personal satisfaction of setting a goal and reaching it!

I joined ATA Martial Arts with my four children 2-1/2 years ago. I found taekwondo to be almost addicting and love it! I have not acquired any titles or awards at this point and I do not have a specialty weapon, most of my last year has been and continues to be persevering. In the fall of 2009 as a new green belt I suffered a pretty major ankle injury. This injury ended up requiring surgery taking me out for about 9 months. I continue to have limitations with my ankle, but I also have seen some positive progress with it over the past few months as I continue to train, slowly I have gained more flexibility in my ankle. I give my instructor the best I can and I push myself to give a little more at times – I really don't like getting docked points because I can't get into a deep back stance due to the injury, so I push for more and someday it will come!

My wonderful instructor, Mr. Arndt, has been very encouraging as I have worked my way back into training. He tells me to be careful when I push too hard and encourages me to push a little harder when I'm being too cautious. Sometimes I still struggle with not being where I "should" be in rank (I would be getting ready to test for my 1st Degree Black Belt) and he always reminds me that it's not too far away, that eventually I will get there.

Working hard and persevering is not always easy when you have to rearrange a goal, but knowing that goal can still be reached makes the challenges worth going through. When I do finally reach my 1st Degree it will be a very sweet day! For now, I focus on reaching my next rank. Long term I am focused on becoming a Black Belt, being certified in basic self-defense (and possibly something beyond that), becoming a dedicated quality instructor like my own instructor, and then either run a school for Mr. Arndt or open one of my own. Currently I am a Red Belt-Recommended, in February of this year I attended my first regional Black Belt Camp and did my "level 1" instructor certification, now I'm preparing for my "level 2" certification and preparing to test for my Red Belt-Decided.

Overall, I'm just proud to be a member of ATA and to represent ATA as a leader in my school. If my participation in the President's Challenge inspires other students or leaders in their personal challenges with getting active and healthy, then why not step up and take the challenge!

Editor's Note: Though her story was written in June 2011, Mrs. Jorgenson has kept up her active lifestyle and Martial Arts training to advance in rank to Red Belt-Decided, and logged her activities to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold levels as a Presidential Champion, one of ATA's first students to do so. She could become one of ATA's first Platinum level Presidential Champions as well. Her ever-climbing activity point totals place her solidly within the Top 5 of the "ATA Leadership NOW" group. In September she will test for 1st Degree Black Belt-Recommended and in February she plans to test for Level 2 Certified Specialty Trainer. Keep aiming high and working hard, ma'am! ATA!