On August 24th 2015, Master Kim promoted Ben Bouckaert to Black Belt.
Ben Bouckaert is 14 years old and is a freshman at Seckman High School. Ben has been in Taekwondo since he was 9 years old, and started competing in tournaments around the age of 10. Over the past 5 years, Ben has received numerous medals in sparring and forms. He is a multiple State Champion and in 2013 competed at the USA Taekwondo Nationals.
Ben received his Black Belt on August 24th, 2015, and wrote the below Ceremony speech:
How Taekwondo Impacted my Life
By Ben Bouckaert
“I started Taekwondo when I was nine years old and through the many years it has impacted my life in many ways. When I first started taekwondo, I was just trying it out for a summer class for 3 months, but I instantly fell in love with the sport. It gave me self-confidence and I knew that I found the sport that was for me. I had originally started playing soccer and was also involved in Cub Scouts but never really connected with either one of them but the feeling was different for Taekwondo.
Then later, I got accepted into Black Belt Club and that’s when I felt like I really started enjoying the sport. I remember being shy the first day of Black Belt Club and a little scared but overall a fun experience. I also remember meeting Ms. Allison who was a black belt instructor who taught me how to spar.
I remember going to watch my first tournament and just watching made me nervous and then a few months later, I went to my first tournament to compete and was feeling scared. I remember my match. It was an exhibition match with a kid that looked way bigger than me and when I finally sparred him, I did fine. It was exciting and a lot of fun. I then remembered my second tournament. I had a group of boys that I had spar. Once again I was feeling very nervous. Now I realize each one of these little accomplishments made me more confident in myself.
Then a few months later at my school another boy started Black Belt Club and he and I became serious competitors. He was someone that pushed me to get better. His name was Timmy and Timmy made me get more competitive than I ever was. I remember every time I when up against him we were going to have a fun match. Eventually Timmy stopped coming, and at the same time Ms. Allison my second instructor left, and I remember that had more of an impact than my first instructor leaving because I felt more connected. I learned that with changes there can be good things around the corner. Around the same time Mr. Matt and Mrs. Patty started coming and teaching and at the same time Mr. Caleb started teaching more. Because of Matt and Patty and my other instructors and all of their demanding, challenging workouts, I was finally able to beat a competitor in sparring that I had lost to many times. I remember watching the matches multiple times trying to figure out why I lost. I will never forget the tournament that I had to face him again, and it felt so good that all of my hard work and training paid off when I finally was able win the sparring match against him. It was the best feeling ever.
I would like to thank my mom for always being there for me. She’s always gets me to my classes on time several times a week. I know without her, I would have never gotten into Taekwondo, and I will always love her. Even though sometimes I know I can be annoying, I know she will always love me.
I would like to also thank Mr. Matt and Mrs. Patty for being my instructors, and working so hard helping me with my sparring and forms. They volunteer so much of their time to be my trainer and coaches and go the extra step like finding videos to watch to make me a better athlete. They are constantly pushing me to be the best I can be. I have become a better athlete because of them and I’m excited to see where turning this new corner will take me.
I think all of these things have helped gain my confidence from sparing new competitors to working with new instructors. I think the sport of Taekwondo makes me a better person as I learned respect, loyalty, honesty, and courage. I look forward to always looking to the future and to never stop learning and to always do Taekwondo.”