/ Justin Pennish
Martial arts has always been my lifelong pursuit. I started at Team Karate Centers in 1997 when I was just four years old. At that point, enrolling wasnt much of a personal choice, but I guess its true that the habits we develop as young kids often stay with us for the rest of our lives. Since that time, I have experienced ups and downs in my training; I quit twice when I was younger, but I never stopped indefinitely and I always found my way back. In fact, each day I renew my commitment when I step through the doors of TKC.
In my earlier years (age 5-10), I loved martial arts for the most part. From what I remember I had fun, until I became a green belt. Once I tested for green, I felt like everything had changed for the worse, and for one specific reason: cartwheels. I hated cartwheels, and although I now see the situation for what it likely way, to my ten-year old self it seemed like we did cartwheels every single class. I dreaded class after that, and I quitAfter two years, I tried TKC again and tested for brown belt, but quit soon after that once again. In 2005, I knew for sure I would never become a black belt.
It wasnt until I attended the 2007 Black Belt Spectacular something in me changed. The day inspired me to return as a white belt and practice however I needed to in order to earn black belt .
I knew from that point on I wanted to do martial arts for myself. This time I had motivation, determination, and drive.
Im glad I stuck around, because I earned my first degree black belt in September 2009. I was sixteen. On the day of my black belt test I remember feeling that I had conquered my failures of yesteryear and out of the ashes of my former self sparked the confident black belt I always knew I could be.
Shortly after, I began assisting with the 6pm adult class twice a week as a SWAT member. After experiencing a personal setback in 2010, I had a memorable conversation with Sensei Fariborz. I told him I aspired to be an instructor, and we agreed that in order to make this a win-win I should start helping Sensei Ash with the junior classes as well. Junior classes are a cornerstone of TKC and in the coming months, I found my way in teaching.
Some people are daunted by the prospect of kids classes, but I entered my natural element. Actually, I prefer teaching kids classes over adult classes. I ts kids that have the most budding personalities and enthusiasm for learning. They find awe in the most basic of things and continue to remind me time and again what humans are genetically engineered to do: think creatively, look for fun, and be active for the sake of necessity.
In 2011, I tested for my second degree black belt.
The next few years were formative to me as a person and martial artist. For one, I was introduced to CrossFit. And while I rejected it at first when Sensei Fariborz introduced the methodology to TKC, the more results I saw in myself and TKC students, the more my enthusiasm for CrossFit grew. To my own surprise, in 2013 I started taking lessons at Valley CrossFit in Van Nuys. So far, this has been the best investment Ive made. Its rare for anybody to get to say this, but I walk away from every workout having done something Ive never done before. My potential for growth has been limitless. Imagine the power in that.
I also started taking lessons in traditional Hapkido with Master Steve Sexton, kickboxing with Sensei Pete Sugarfoot Cunningham and Sensei Benny Urquidez, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) with Rigan Machado, plus occasional seminars with Ron Balicki, Simon Rhee, Dave Kovar, Richard Norton, and the likes.
Finally, on October 5, 2014, I became a third degree black belt at Team Karate Centers. The martial arts world is so vast, and Im fortunate that Sensei Fariborz has introduced me to it all: kicking, grappling, weapons, trapping, holds, throws, takedowns, kickboxing, forms, fitness, boxing, conditioning, sticks, and anything I might have missed. The more I experience from each area, I build a toolbox of resources of what I like and what works best for me.
And the more I grow at TKC, through training and teaching, the more I realize that learning should be light-hearted in nature; Nothing that I must learn, but everything I get to learn. The way our system Hapkido Blend works is that before black belt everyone is required to study each fighting range: trapping, punching, kicking, grappling, and weapons. After black belt, however, you can pick which systems you want to learn more about and dig deeper in those. For me, I enjoy it all, especially BJJ, kicking, and CrossFit. Everything I accomplish, I do with the intention of becoming a well-rounded martial artist.
For me, instructing martial arts is about building a culture where people feel comfortable succeeding and failing while knowing that both are necessary to grow. I want out students to feel that after each class they accomplished three things: learn a skill, got stronger, and had fun. As an instructor, I have the unique chance to help establish this culture in its ever evolving form. I cant name a day at TKC when we werent enhancing our curriculum for the benefit of students. We dont protect what we know, because we realize theres so much knowledge out there yet to be discovered.
Personally, martial arts has taught me that the important moments in my life are defined by the risks that I take and by the pieces of myself I must let go of in order to grow into someone stronger. Ive learned that change doesnt mean Ive lost anything, it simply means Im redefining my surroundings so that I can cultivate better ownership and understanding.
Sensei Fariborz over the years has shown me that some experiences are so powerful they they can reshape the way I think, and at the same time reject or reaffirm what I previously assumed to be true but over which I never really had an unequivocal conviction. Among these, the ideas of virtuosity: doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way where character matters more than competency. Also, I have the power to make hard decisions and stand proudly by them. And most of all, we dont do martial arts to fight, but to live.
/ Comments ...
/ what people say about Justin
|Justin is an inspiration to me because he teaches me the right obligation to do. He teaches me to be a good student, teacher, and a role model. He has taught me most of the black belt forms.|
|Mr. Justin has been a driving force behind so much of what I have learned so far on my journey towards becoming a Black Belt. Because I have had so little time to attend many of the Monday and Wednesday BBC classes, I have been going to many of the Friday classes with Mr. Justin. At these classes, Mr. Justin has had to teach me so much of the necessary curriculum. Even though there was such a vast mountain of curriculum to learn and master, Mr. Justin has helped me learn everything faster than I thought possible. I appreciate what he has done for me even more when taking into consideration that he is striving for his own 3rd degree Black Belt. It amazes me how he can ever find time to teach classes while doing his own training and that he is willing to put so much of his precious preparation time aside to teaching, especially when it is for people who need as much help as I did. I am just so incredibly thankful for all the help he has provided me and am in admiration of his ability to handle such immense workloads.|
|Mr. Justin is a great influence on me for becoming a black belt. He is fun and kind. Whenever I ask for help, he helps me. He makes me feel ready and encouraged. He is my best friend. He helps me work on my forms, Kicking combinations and skills. The first time I met him was when I asked him for help on a form. I was an orange belt when I asked him. He puts things into steps to make it easier. I will work very hard to make him proud. Whenever I go to TKC, Im excited to see Mr. Justin. He means something to me because he makes me feel like I can do anything. When he is asked to go perform a form, he doesnt complain. Mr. Justin is a great influence.|
|Mr.Justin because he is such a helpful instructor.He is also my success coach, he is going to prepare me for my Black Belt test.He is my inspiration because I know even if I am young I can be great in what I do.He is one of my favorite heroes because he make everything so easy to learn.He is a wonderful instructor.|
|Mr. Justin inspires me to learn without fear. He is the reason I have been able to overcome my fear of new and advanced skills. He has inspired me because he never gave up hope that I could succeed, even when I felt I could not. Mr. Justin always helped me push farther, just like Mr. Ash did, teaching me everything I needed to know to get this far.|
|For my first TKC Hero I chose Mr. Justin. Mr. Justin has been helping me throughout my training. He is always fun, but acts like a teacher at the same time and I like that. He is always helping everyone. I watched him at the black belt test last year and that encourages me to become a black belt. Mr. Justin is always working to get better and I want to be like that too. That is why he is my TKC hero.|
|Mr. Justin is one of my TKC heroes. He has been my instructor for many years. He is always patient with me and with everyone even when we are acting up and talking. He helps me improve moves I am not good at and is always very nice. Mr. Justin is very encouraging. We practice the Butterfly kick a lot. Mr. Justin always does sleepovers at TKC. Sleepovers are my favorite.|
One sensei I admire is Mr. Justin. He manages to teach while everyones laughing. He is a great teacher. I love how he mixes comedy with work. He also has this way of making boring things more fun.
One time he did this was after a boring day of forms he had us do sword shield fight. He also has a way of connecting with his students. You really feel like you accomplished a lot. He also shows a lot of ways to do one thing.
Personally hes always been there for me. After class hes an entirely different person. We share jokes and talk about funny things right after a crazy workout at the end of class. He also has his own way of things. In my opinion Mr. Justin is the most up beet and funny sensei there is.
|My third instructor that has been an inspiration to me is Mr. Justin. Mr. Justin has also helped me through my black belt journey. Mr. Justin used to have classes every Friday at 4:00. These classes helped me pass my qualification exam. Mr. Justin helped me with the Sensei Benny workout.|
|One of my TKC heroes is Mr. Justin because he is a great roll model and he teaches in a strict( i mean good strict) way so that we can learn things faster. He is my success coach and I wanted him as my #1 pick because he knows everything, teaches in a funny manor and he gets work DONE! He doesnt get mad when I do something wrong or If I do a silly mistake. I hope that Mr.Justin is reading this and knows how good he is and how cool and funny he is. All in all, Justin is the BEST TKC instructor, in my opinion.|
|My second hero at TKC is Mr. Justin. Mr. Justin has worked with me since I was in Little Ninjas. He knows how to make learning fun, but he understands when it is important to be serious. He wants us to work hard so that we can also be instructors one day, as well as how to protect ourselves if ever faced by a bully. Mr. Justin works hard at the studio to make sure the classes are running on time and helps where he can during the classes.|
|One inspirational TKC instructor is sensei or Mr.Justin.He is always so nice,calm,and pushed us over our limits.I always thought I could not climb the rope but Mr.Justin always after class tried to help me climb the rope if he had any free time.Mr.Justin left but he still visits and one time helped me with basic form number one.I want to be like him always so calm and helpful and he was skilled in karate,and smart.Mr.Justin was such a instructor I can not type all of the benefits of spending time with him as my instructor or all of his good parts like being wise and smart.|
|Mr. Justin because he was a great teacher and was fun. He was a great teacher because he wouldnt get really mad at people when they would not pay attention and he wouldnt make people sit out for the class. He taught me to always stay calm so you dont become really mad at people and do something else instead. Mr. Justin had to go to college but I hope does well in school and he comes back to teach us.|