Hey guys, TJ Banski here! Coming at you from the Pacific Northwest! Going on adventures, eating good food, fitness and writing are my passions, so I figured why not blog about it and share my adventures. Life is amazing! Let’s go!
To my family and close friends, they call me TJ, Tess or Spit Fire. I Attended Tumwater High School home of the Thunderbirds and their great saying Ngunngu- “Never give up, never never give up” by Coach Ottan. At Tumwater, I learned to harness my inner courage to stand out among the crowd. Not only was I one of the few minorities in my graduating class, but I was also in the top 5%. My friends would call me the social butterfly because I knew just about everyone and if I didn’t, I was gonna meet you one way other another. I learned from a young age that you treat others how you want to be treated and help out when you can. One of my good friends really wanted to get in touch with our school leadership I basically introduced her to the teacher who was in charge of that program. She flourished in the program and became one of the keynote speakers at our graduation. All she needed was to meet the right person and a little encouragement. She then returned the favor in asking me to come to give advice to the freshman class upon graduating. I spoke about encouraging one another.
My friends often came to me for advice and encouragement when it came to talking about their dreams and goals. I never really knew the meaning of a devil’s advocate of what could go wrong or what if this doesn’t work. I only knew to not sweat the small stuff and how to build someone up. Encouragement and compliments go along away. “Build up and not tear down.” Anytime I needed a little encouragement I watched a Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie. I wanted to be that physically fit and handle any situation that headed my way. “How are you able to keep positive even when bad things were happening?” my friends would ask me. “Sure, life is hard but you gotta keep kicking and you gotta keep smiling.”
I was apart of committees and clubs at Tumwater high but one that stands out the most was being apart of the martial arts program Kims Taekwondo. I can remember my first time visiting the dojo. My aunt Shanna who had been going to the dojo for more than 6 months felt I should join. “Honey, You have a lot of pent up energy,” she said. “This will help.” I watched excitedly through the window in the hall as they did fighting forms, sparring and broke boards. The community and comrade I felt I could really be a part of. They encouraged each other to keep on going even when the work out became more intense. One thing that really stood out the most was how the instructor taught what they had learned and lead by example. I made up my mind then there I wanted to become a black belt in Taekwondo.
I made a commitment to myself to set aside a half hour to an hour to practice what I had learned. Putting to muscle memory every type of kick and hand technic. When life had some unexpected turns, my grandmother, from Alaska passing away fights with my best friend at the time, other family members in and out of the hospital. I would attend double classes to make up for classes I had missed. During the summers I would attend four classes a week. I attended 3 to 5 different tournaments every few months, one way or another taking 1st, 2nd or 3rd in every category. I set the bar for new students to kick and jump higher. Bringing in a few of the white belts under my wing I taught them what I knew and that helped me fine tune my techniques. I poured my blood, sweats, and tears into achieving this goal, quite literally. From When I first broke a board that left on my ankle bruised for a month I could barely walk on it to when I had my first defeat in a sparring match against a lady who literally knocked the wind out of me. I kept going, I pushed through all the aches I felt and the personal obstacles I faced. Now the average time for a person to become a black belt is in four to five years. I did it 3 and half years. I was ambitious and persistent in learning all the fundamental techniques- control, discipline, integrity and to have an indomitable spirit to overcome any odds.
I learned to carry these teachings with me and apply them to areas of my life. Through practice, time and a great boost of self-motivation I feel I have a pretty good handle on these aspects.
My quote I would leave you today is Live life with a kick and a smile. Keep kicking when life gets hard and why frown, when you can smile through it. -TJ Banski