Chris Lerch -- Temporary Black Belt

posted Sep 29, 2014, 11:03 AM by Hub Branch   [ updated Sep 30, 2014, 6:35 AM ]
Tae Kwon Do
Chris Lerch

So It Begins


When I first embarked upon my journey into martial arts, I was about 15 years old.  The father of one of my high school friends knew a Vietnamese  gentleman, Ahn Nguyen who taught Kung Fu to a small group of local teens.  The lessons were free and typically held during warmer weather in his backyard, but occasionally at a local church or rec center.  Until I met Ahn, everything that I knew about martial arts, which was very little, I had gleaned from movies and books about Ninjas and Kung Fu masters who would take on entire armies with their bare hands and feet.  Needless to say this was a somewhat skewed view of what I would soon come to learn was more than fighting, but a discipline that would shape me into what I am today and leave me always wanting more.

I studied with Ahn until I was 18, at which point he moved away to continue his academic pursuits and returned to college.  It was years before I realized how much my training had changed the course of my life.  As I got older I would find myself in situations where someone was in need of help, whether they were stranded on the side of the road or being hurt by someone physically, and I was driven to stop and assist them in whatever way I could.  Over time I realized this was greatly due to the code of discipline and honor I had been taught as part of my martial arts training.


My Tae Kwon Do Journey

Life seems to be full of coincidences, whether they be finding my way to Kung fu lessons or finding Mr. Netsch at the local farmers market and learning from him about Two Rivers Martial Arts.  I have discovered over the years that these so called coincidences are actually the result of what I call "following the path", which basically means, in everything you do try to make the best choice possible and you will be rewarded based on the quality of those choices.  I decided long ago that if we had children, at some point when it was appropriate, they would learn martial arts and hopefully find some of the same meaning in it that I have, and so Two Rivers is the perfect fit because we can all train as a family, which is the thing that truly brings all of this together for me.  So many families spend their time running from activity to activity, with one or both parents being relegated to the audience and never being able to take part in what their children are doing.  Tae Kwon Do has allowed us to spend time learning and growing together rather than apart, and though we do spend a lot of time pursuing our training, it still affords us valuable time as a family.  

The "Tenets of Tae Kwon Do" so nicely mesh with my own code of ethics and morals that Tae Kwon Do has given me a wonderful sense of belonging, and faith that I am not the only person outside of our family that believes in a strong moral code.  Seeing other families training and being able to help others learn and grow as I have, makes the journey much more rewarding than I could have even imagined and even while we are learning to fight and protect ourselves, as well as increasing our physical and mental fitness, we are perhaps more importantly, learning to help each other and work together towards a common goal outside of the competitive nature of society. I look forward to learning more, and having the opportunity to see those I have helped achieve even greater success in their own personal journey, which is what I believe Tae Kwon Do truly is, a journey and I find myself just as excited, if not more so, when someone I have helped succeeds in a goal, like their board break, as when I do. 


It Never Ends


Lucky is such an inadequate word to describe how I feel about being able to be involved with Two Rivers and all of the great people I have met along the way.  I owe a debt of gratitude to and have tremendous respect for everyone that has helped me reach this level, from Mr. Netsch who introduced us to the school, and Master Samuelson who presides over our branch and mentors each of us to Mr. Anderson and Ms. Kingsbury who are always willing to offer help and advice no matter what the challenge is. 

Two Rivers is like a home away from home for us, I feel great loyalty to and have considerable respect for Grandmaster Jung, Master Heinz and all of the Masters and Black Belts I have encountered during my training.  Our matriarch Master Clinton makes everyone feel welcome and is never at a loss for encouraging words or, when needed, stern direction.  In addition to Master Clinton Two Rivers is also flush with truly great and inspiring mentors and patriachal figures including Master Hammer, Master Ferguson, Master Gonzalez, Master Deaton, Mr. And Mrs. Master Maxwell, Master Williams, and Master Mcbroom.  In the interest of time and trees I will not attempt to list all of the wonderful black belts who have helped me through the years, suffice it to say they are numerous and like the Masters listed above have my eternal gratitude.

Training in the Martial Arts, in whatever form they take, is one of the best ways I have ever found to instill confidence, discipline and a moral code, and like any other endeavor worth the effort, it is a lot of work, but the rewards are immense.  If I can even come close to the level of knowledge and discipline I have encountered during my training I will have succeeded in my journey so far. 


I wish to offer my sincerest gratitude to everyone who helped me get here and I look forward to what the future will bring.