December 25, 2010
Merry Christmas Everyone!
The holidays have been great so far since it means I can train whenever I want. I really had some great training with the Men’s National Sparring Team - Mr LeGrow (Hyper Weight), Miro Mostovac (Heavy Weight) and Aziz Abdellahi (Middle Weight). We worked on some amazing sparring drills. It’s so beneficial learning different strategies from different people. People really don’t realize just how technical sparring is. It’s not just a bunch of people in a ring punching and kicking. It’s all about skill, timing and technique. I was a bit intimidated sparring these men but it also helps me with my confidence and I’m lucky that they include me in everything. Hopefully I won’t have anyone with their skill in my age division at Worlds
Just when we thought we couldn’t train anymore from exhaustion, Mr. LeGrow asked us to help with some of the classes. I was so sore the next day. Thanks for coming to Ottawa Aziz to train with us. It was so helpful! Thank you Mr. LeGrow for allowing us to train during the day when the dojang was closed.
I also had some great training with Miro at a dojang close to my house. Ms. Trigger from Trigger’s TKD was very generous and allowed me to use her dojang over the holidays. I wanted a place that I could just go and work on my patterns, stretch, do some yoga and work on my own. Thank you Ms. Trigger. It’s hard for my parents to drive 70km every time I want to train. I like to train during the day as much as possible.
Blackburn TKD also had a fun pot-luck Christmas party.
For Christmas I got a new pair of running shoes and a speed skipping rope so I’m excited to try them out tomorrow.
Interviewed by Algonquin College Journalist and Lifestyle Editor for the Algonquin Times – Gabrielle Tieman
December 16, 2010
Kayla Maduk – 2nd Dan, National Taekwon-Do Team
By Gabrielle Tieman – 3rd Year Student and Lifestyle Editor for the Algonquin Times Paper
Kayla Maduk spins around and smacks a hacky-sack to the ground with the heel of her foot. Repeatedly, the youngest members of her dojang throw the small, bean filled balls into the air as Kayla continues to spin and strike. One, two, four, six, the bags fall. At 14 years old, she hardly skips a beat.
This warm up routine is only a small aspect of Kayla’s day-to-day life as she spins through her days filled with early mornings, high-school assignments, soccer practice, and daily trips to her second home – her Taekwon-do dojang. Although most young teenagers would cave under a schedule that would challenge the average adult, Kayla has found an inner balance that resonates out of her pores.
Sitting across from her, it’s hard to believe that she is a teenager. With an easy smile and a confidence that exudes when she speaks about her passions in life and the goals she has already accomplished, it is easy to mistake this young athlete for a seasoned veteran. For a girl who challenges society’s stigma of the average teenager, she does not seem close to buckling under the pressure. She is a person who loves comedies, her family and friends, and kicking a soccer ball around in the fields behind her school; yet she holds a second degree black belt and will soon represent Canada in the international circuit.
At the age of three, Kayla began studying the art of Taekwon- do. Inspired by both her father and brother who were already involved in the sport, Kayla begged for her turn to try the family hobby. By five she was breaking boards; by nine she was breathing the sport.
“When I was probably nine or ten, I was gung-ho on Taekwon-do,” Kayla says. “My bedroom had everything Taekwon-do possible. I would eat every meal with chopsticks”. Remembering a house full of Asian calligraphy, Kayla’s mother Heather recalls wiping the toe prints off of every surface of her kitchen. “All of our cupboard doors had footprints on them,” she says. “You could build a tree house with all of the boards she has broken.” It is safe to say that no one in Kayla’s life has ever deterred her drive to be the best in the ring.
Although no one has ever attempted to discourage Kayla from pursuing athletics, many professionals believe that it is important to safeguard young athletes so they do not burn out before their twenties. The Youth Sports Safety Alliance – an organization that works to prevent high school students from finishing their athletic careers with permanent injuries – stands to question whether or not young athletes will hold their trophies or their injuries the longest during their lifespan. Dojang owner and instructor Steven LeGrow though does not believe Kayla will ever face burning out as an option.
“With every training, every action, you can feel her emotion and see her desire come out. She is a great role model to the younger generation,” LeGrow says. “I rarely hear a complaint from her unless she has pushed herself too hard and has over reached her own limits, and even then, she still tries to push more.” Although many would perceive that pushing herself too hard would lead to an early upset at a young age, Kayla’s philosophy of ‘I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do’ keeps her from losing a grip on boundaries. If she feels her strength falling she takes a day to relax and resist – with difficulty – thinking about anything related to Taekwon-do. Then she is back, and even stronger.
The epitome of a modern student, Kayla manages to balance her athletics with her school work. Maintaining honour roll status has not always been easy for the active teen, but for those like David Campbell, her home room teacher at Cederview Middle School in Nepean, they have never found her lifestyle to impede on her school work. “In our fast-paced, high-pressure society, she has thrived,” explains Campbell with evident pride. “This young woman will do great things and make a difference”. But how does Kayla balance her hectic life? With three important routines: yoga, soccer, and humour.
Picking up a soccer ball had never crossed Kayla’s mind growing up. Being so involved with Taekwon-do, she had little time or encouragement to challenge herself with yet another activity. When her class started playing during gym class in middle school though, something changed. Today she is playing for the OYSL OSU Force Team which is at the Provincial Level. “I like getting the team aspect,” Kayla says, not concerned with the added item to her timetable. “It’s a different cardio. A different mentality. It has really helped me a lot.” Being part of a team has done anything but overwhelm her. With the added aspect of cooperating with other people to achieve a win, Kayla thinks it balances the solitary aspect of her life that she encounters through taekwon-do. Being able to get out of her own head and into those of her teammates and opponents now help her in competition.
Early in November, Kayla found herself travelling to compete in the Olympic Oval alongside and against the best in the country. For many, this would be intimidating; 400 competitors, thousands of spectators, and a building that holds the memories of Olympic gold in its walls. Although for many nerves would take the place of confidence fairly fast, Kayla quickly realized this is where she belonged.
“A lot of people get really nervous,” she says, shrugging her shoulders at the idea. “Maybe because there were windows or the wood in the building but I found it kind of homey.” A building with a holding capacity for 8,000 spectators and the size of 32 football fields is not your typical idea of homey for most. But Kayla is not most. Qualifying in five areas, including both individual and team events, at home is exactly where she felt at the Oval. Kayla won Gold for Patterns, Silver for Power Breaking and Bronze for Sparring in the U-18 Division.
Kayla wants to do more for the sport though than bring home gold. Regarding her taekwon-do student oath ‘I shall build a more peaceful world,’ she plans on living up to such a mantra. Years ago as a beginner in the sport, the older members of the dojang would be her instructors. In keeping with the tradition of passing on your wisdom to the younger generation, Kayla is now doing the same.
“When I was four years old I had people my age now, guys who were like my bigger brothers, who took me under their wing,” Kayla says. “I want to be one of these people for the younger guys.” One student always grabs her hand when she comes into class and another will demand to be her partner; the smaller students will continue to unknot their belts so that she has to kneel down to their level to retie them. “I had great adults and I want to be as great as they were,” she explains. She hopes that her experience will continue on to future generations.
Looking at her life today, Kayla says she would never change a detail of her busy lifestyle. “I love the training, I love the journey, I love the experience,” Kayla explains, adding how her parents always told her that it was the journey – not the medals – that would matter at the end of the day. Documenting everything in her blog Ikicklikeagirl.com, the reality of her impact on the sport has come home. Today, she is in touch with people from Germany to Switzerland to Russia; all wanting to know how she is doing, what she is accomplishing, and supporting her from overseas through comments on her public diary.
“As a parent I wanted her to see the flow and the growth,” says Heather in response to the impact of the blog on Kayla’s life and as well on others. “In 20 years, no one is going to remember what medal you won but they will remember the journey you got out of it.” She may be a champion, but she is still a teenager.
The international ring is only another step in Kayla’s journey. Travelling to New Zealand next March to represent Canada at the 2011 World Championships in the Junior Division, she will be sparring against the best in the world. Embodying the beliefs of taekwon-do – courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit – she will be representing something larger than she ever has in the past.
“It used to be that I had to represent myself well. And then it was I have to represent my school well. Then it went to I have to represent my province well, but now, I have to represent my country well. Everyday I’m representing my country.”
But what is Kayla looking forward to the most? Being able to put on her Team Canada jacket and show the world who she stands to represent. An item she will receive on her 15th birthday.
December 13, 2010
Wow, tonight was an awesome training session. I started with my regular class and then I taught the ladies Fitness Kickboxing class which is always fun and a good workout. I like it since I get to use all the basics of TKD but it’s so much fun with the loud music.
Halfway through the class one of my oldest training buddies showed up. Max Riopelle is like a big brother to me. I’ve trained with him my whole life and I always idolized him. He is the military now so I hardly see him anymore but whenever he comes to town we always get together to train.
Max competed in the World Championships in Malaysia when he was only 16 years old and I will never forget the day my family drove him to the airport. We were so proud of him and I was wishing so badly that I was going with him. That was probably the first time it really hit me how much I wanted to be on the National Team. I remember he was wearing all the national clothes and I thought he was ‘so cool’. Now I can’t believe it’s going to be my turn.
Tonight was so special since it was all my favorite people all in one room just enjoying some casual sparring, people working on their own patterns, stretching and chilling to some good music. I didn’t want it to end.
The good thing is Max will be in town for three weeks so hopefully I can have some really good work out sessions with him. He is so strong from the military it kinda scares me to spar him but it will pay off.
I can’t wait to get back to the dojang tomorrow. Mr LeGrow said he would take my patterns apart one movement at a time. I absolutely love that kind of training. He also warned me that I’ll be very sore after. It’s the kind of training that he did with Mr. Goh before he went to the World Championships and it paid off for him.
I’m so glad school will be over on Friday so I can just go to the dojang and train as much as I want over the holidays.
December 12, 2010
I am getting into a comfortable training groove. I know what I need to do at home to get stronger and more flexible and then I have my training 4 times a week. I’m really working on my flexibility for one of the movements in my pattern ‘Juche’ so it looks better. Some people are naturally just more flexible but it’s something that I really have to work at. I have a whole routine that I do and I already feel a difference.
On Saturday after training, I stayed after to do some extra training on my own. It’s nice to have a large area to move around freely for patterns. Mack was testing for his blue belt with two other students so I helped out a little but. It’s helpful to have someone spar with the students and hold board so the instructor can focus on the student’s techniques while he is grading them.
It’s fun to see how excited everyone is when they receive their new belt. There is a lot of theory and several definitions that you must know about Taekwon-Do as well so it’s not just a physical test. Congratulations Mack!
Soccer is also getting a lot better at each practice. I like doing all the foot drills and the cardio drills using the ladders, hurdles and sprints since that also helps with my speed in Taekwon-Do. Our team (and parents) have been recently doing a whole lot of fundraising (bottle drives, raffles and selling chocolate bars) to help with some of the soccer travel expenses. Our team is going to Dallas, Texas but I won’t be going with them since I will just be getting back from New Zealand when they leave and it’s just too much money with all my TKD expenses.
I started to plan a huge fundraiser evening for my trip to New Zealand. It will be February 6th in Barrhaven and it’s going to be amazing. I’ll fill you in with the details as soon as they are firmed up.
December 7, 2010
Here is the write up after the National Championships in Vancouver
December 5, 2010
December 5, 2010
At school this week we had a guest, Guy Ouellette from Elite Karate come in to teach self-defense to the girls in phys-ed class every day. It was a lot of fun and I learned a few holds and grabs that I didn’t know before. It was the first time that most of the girls had ever been exposed to any of this and I think they really liked it too. I think that everyone (especially girls) should have some knowledge in self-defense for their own safety. I know that martial arts has given me some extra confidence. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get scared but I’m pretty sure that I would have skills that would kick in automatically if necessary. The best thing is still to avoid dangerous situations whenever possible and don’t go looking for trouble.
This week I trained with my regular instructor Mr. LeGrow but I also had the great opportunity to train with Mr. and Mrs. Cabanas. Mr. Cabanas was on the 2009 Argentina National Team and his wife is also on the 2011 Canadian Woman’s Team Sparring team. Mr. Cabanas is extremely skilled in sparring and had all new drills for me. It’s so cool how there is always so much to learn from different people. It’s also interesting to hear Mr. Cabana’s experience on how other countries train for World Championships. Mrs. Thibodeau-Cabanas, Mr. LeGrow, Mr. Mostovac and I are the only 4 competitors from Ontario on the National Team so we will be spending a lot of time training together. It feels weird sometimes when I’m at least 10-15 years younger than all of them but when we’re training age is NOT a factor – it’s all about learning as much as possible and challenging each other for improvement. It’s great to have another woman to spar with since I’ve usually only trained with men and they definitely spar differently.
Soccer is also going well. I’m not playing in the games so sometimes I feel a bit left out but during the practices it’s great to be together. This is just one of those sacrifices that I have to make to keep safe and injury free before Worlds. I’m thankful that my team mates understand.