KAPAIA — Jimmy Torio is extremely proud of the Excellence Award presented to his grandson, Donaven Gonzalez, by the Kanuikapono Charter School in Anahola.
“He was always a fighter,” Torio said. “Now, he’s using his mind to accomplish things.”
The Certificate of Excellence-Science, Most Improved 1st Quarter was presented to Gonzalez, a seventh-grade student, at the end of the school’s first quarter in January. It was the first of a quarterly award on a string of Haumana of the Week awards, presented to the student for demonstrating noteworthy character.
Torio credits the mental aspects of taekwondo in playing a large role in helping the 12-year-old focus.
“He’s a really focused student,” said Sensei Derek Marksman of Kims Academy Island School Taekwondo. “He’s shy, and so quiet, but is always focused on learning to get better. He was like that from the start when he enrolled, more than three years ago.”
Torio said the mental aspects of K.A.I.S. TaeKwonDo include the “10 Articles of Mental Training” that brought the young man to realize the potential of mental training over physical fighting. Those articles wrap around concepts of loyalty, obedience, love, cooperation, faithfulness, respect, compassion, mercy, and persistence.
“My family really helped me,” Gonzalez said following an hour of rigorous drills preparing him for the next step in taekwondo. “It was really hard work, but my family and my school helped me. Taekwondo helped me education-wise, too, especially being respectful.”
Martial arts has been a part of Gonzalez’s life from a very young age.
“He practiced karate with Sensei Kenn Firestone at Premier Martial Arts until he reached the Purple belt level,” Torio said. “Then, he found taekwondo where a few of his friends had already risen to Black belt levels. Now, he’s gotta work hard to catch up to their level.”
Gonzalez is currently ranked as High Red with the next round of testing bringing him closer to the coveted Black belt.
“These are crucial tests,” Sensei Derek said. “He’s come a long way to reach High Red. The next level is the first of four levels of Deputy Black Belt before he can earn a Black Belt. This is a milestone event for him in taekwondo.”
The seventh-grade student said the biggest difference between karate and taekwondo is that in karate, you use your hands, while in taekwondo, you learn to use your hands and feet.
Taekwondo, according to Team USA, is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing an individual’s spirit and life through training one’s body and mind. “Tae” and “Kwon” stand for fists and feet, or all of the parts of the body that are represented by fists and feet.
Taekwondo is a way to control or calm down fights and keep the peace, the concept coming from the meaning of “taekwondo” of “to put fists under control.”
Torio said the biggest sign of Donaven’s succeeding in taekwondo came not on the mat, but in real life.
“Donaven was confronted by another youth on a Northshore beach,” Torio said. “Instead of striking out in retaliation, he told the challenger, ‘My grandpa is over there. Let me ask him if I can beat you up.’ I told Donaven, ‘no, make friends with him.’”
The incident demonstrated another of the mental training aspects of the Korean traditional martial art.
“He’s been doing this for a long time,” Torio said. “Now, he’s starting to reap the benefits of all the time he’s spent at the dojo. Taekwondo is a good after-school activity for not only Donaven, but all young people.”
K.A.I.S. TaeKwonDo offers classes for ages 4 and up in Kapaia with a focus on self-discipline, self-defense, and self-growth. Classes meet from 3 to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
Source: The Garden Island