Sophomore Pragathi Vivaik has been doing taekwondo for six years. A second-degree black belt, she recently started teaching taekwondo three days a week to students of all ages.
Q: Why did you start doing taekwondo?
A: It wasn’t my idea in the first place. My parents thought that I should know some kind of self-defense, and I ended up loving it.
Q: How did you get into teaching taekwondo?
A: I had to train hard to get through the basic belts. Then, I had to be tested to become a first-degree black belt, (and) then I continued to work hard and got tested to become a second-degree black belt. After I got my second-degree black belt, I started teaching.
Q: Are you paid, or is teaching considered volunteer work?
A: I am paid, but I have decided to put that money into my fees for becoming a fourth-degree black belt, which is now free.
Q: Why did you start teaching?
A: I started teaching at the recommendation of my instructor. He said I should try my hand at leadership and told me that I am a natural at it.
Q: What types of things do you teach?
A: I try to get (the students) ready for the eventual black belt test by making them do more and more pushups, but it really depends on what rank they are. When I have a class, I judge the class based on if they are higher belts or lower belts. When they are higher belts, I make them do more pushups and jumping jacks just to push them to the level that is required to perform at during the black belt test.
Q: Do you now have a different perspective on teachers?
A: I understand now how some teachers have their own teaching style because you really develop one as you teach more and more.
Q: Have you gotten any injuries from taekwondo?
A: I haven’t had any really major injuries, (but) I would say (I’ve gotten the) most when I was control free sparring. Control free sparring is when you spar but do not wear any gear. The point of this type of sparring is that you are in control and you do not hit the other person that you are sparring with.
The problem is that a lot of accidents can happen during the exercise. For example, I regularly get my shin bruised because when I’m kicking someone, they kick at you at the same time, and your shins collide.
Though the bruising is sort of annoying, it is not major. There is a possibility, though, if you are really not careful, (that) you could get a concussion from somebody kicking you in the head, but that has never happened to me.
Q: What is your most memorable moment?
A: My most memorable moment was when I had to break a paving brick for my second-degree black belt test. When I broke through the brick, I realized I was capable of exerting a lot more strength than I thought. Training really pays off!
—By Dylan Margolis