A Day in the Life Of a Youth World Champion
Meet Kaelyn Whaley...
She's a 16-time World Champion that has traveled all over America and Europe representing young girls, her hometown of San Diego and the power of a strong spirit.
...but Kaelyn will tell you she's just a martial artist.
If you're a young person thinking martial arts is something you want to do, keep reading and watching.
If you're a parent contemplating the benefits of martial arts for your child, you should also keep reading and watching.
As instructors and black belts, we're always amazed at the personal development of students that walk on to the training mat. The kids that overcome their fears and limitations and return week after week inspire us daily.
Kaelyn may be a world champion but these everyday kids are also champions in mind, body and spirit - what more could a parent ask for!
In Kaelyn's own words....
Training Videos by Kaelyn
Learn your basics and patterns from Kaelyn!
She's more than happy to pass on her knowledge so you can shine in class and at your next test.
Her background is in mixed martial arts so not to be confused with traditional Korean styles.
Whatever martial arts you're learning remember...
...perfect practice makes perfect and the biggest room is the room for improvement!
What inspired you to take up martial arts?
When I was four-years-old, I suffered from extreme shyness. My parents were looking for something to help me build confidence and saw a flyer advertising martial arts.
They didn't know anything about martial arts but the flyer said, "Confidence, Discipline, and Respect." My mom was against it but my dad convinced her to give it a try.
I attended my first class and LOVED it! I found my passion and now I perform with confidence in front of thousands of people. Martial arts changed my life.
Who are your role models for practice?
I love watching all the great martial artists from movies and sport (especially Taekwondo in the Olympics!).
But my biggest role model is my coach, Sensei Will Jackson.
His martial arts skills are amazing, but his ability to teach what he knows is unmatched.
His classes are always dynamic and challenging. He is always studying new moves and sharing what he learns with his students.
Does your training and schedule as a world champion interfere with being a normal teenager?
Not at all! Sure, I train every day but I still have lots of time to be a normal kid. Besides, when you do what you love, it's not work. It's fun!
I have friends at school but I also have great friends at my martial arts school.
My dojo has all kinds of special events like movie nights, in-house tournaments, contests, and other events that give me lots of opportunities to hang out with my friends.
We have a great time! I do all the normal stuff any kid does but I feel lucky to have martial arts, too. It doesn't take away from my life, it adds to my life. I couldn't imagine growing up without it.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Yes! I love to read and you will almost never find me without a great book. Reading takes me away to places I can't go. I love to use my imagination when I read.
I also love horses, especially riding horses - I go as often as I can. I really enjoy making and editing videos, producing something I hope others will find interesting and entertaining.
What's your favorite taekwondo move?
You might find my answer to be funny but my favorite moves are in kicho!
My Sensei always says that it all comes down to the basics and that a competitor can win a tournament with kicho, as long as its the best kicho ever!
I've never tried to do kicho in competition, but it would be fun to try it one day!
I love learning hard moves and putting them into my creative forms.
But the basic moves are challenging to perfect and I like learning the small adjustments to make them better.
What advice can you give to new students?
Start! Get to a local dojo, or even a friend who is willing to teach you. There will be training days that are tough but keep going. It's the challenge, especially on those tough days, that will help you grow into a better person.
It's not about getting your black belt, it's about the journey you take to get there. A mountain climber once told me, the thing she remembers most about climbing isn't reaching the summit but the challenges of getting there. It's all about the journey. You will get out of it only what you put into it.
What can you tell parents about what martial arts has done for you?
Confidence, discipline, and respect - exactly what the martial arts flyer said!
I've learned martial arts but so much more. I've learned cool moves, self- defense and how to deal with bullies. But I've also learned self-discipline, respect for others, perseverance, patience, attention to detail, and how to be a good citizen and give to others.
And I've learned to deal with my shyness by performing and helping others perform. I am a better person because of my training in martial arts.
What do you think makes a good martial artist?
A great martial artist is committed to perfecting their art while understanding they will never achieve perfection.
Humble in success, determined in defeat.
A great martial artist isn't necessarily a technical master, it's more than that. It's a devotion to the art form, doing it to the best of your ability, whatever your ability allows.
But it's also a devotion to sharing your knowledge and energy with others and making the world a better place. If you can do that, then I think you're great.