Twelve-year-old after taekwondo black belt

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Achieving one's goals is much easier when you love the task at hand, and Amherst's Ryan Harrison's love of taekwondo will help him achieve an important goal Friday at Spring Street Academy.
That's when the 12-year-old Grade 7 student at E.B. Chandler Junior High School will be graded for his first-degree black belt.
"I've been counting down to Friday for a long time," said Harrison who will attempt to upgrade from a black stripe belt.
Harrison has placed in the medals in every competition he's entered. His instructor, Jim Ripley of JC's TaeKwon-do, said Harrison has grown a lot since he first joined JC's in September, 2006.
"He was a really shy kid but he's matured quickly in the last three years," said Ripley.
During the grading, Harrison will go through all the patterns he's learned, spar one-on-one, one-on-two, and one-on-three, break boards, and go through a self-defence routine he designed with another student.
Besides knowing how to use their fists and feet, a taekwondo student must also learn to possess social skills.
"Any student who comes into the club with a black belt should be able to answer any question I need answered or help me with anything that I'm doing," said Ripley. "And a student with a black belt must be responsible to their fellow students.
"If a student asks you a particular question, a black belt should be able to answer. Don't just say I don't know unless you really don't know, then tell them you will check with another source to get the answer."
Harrison earned his black stripe belt last April and will try for his second-degree black belt in two years.
"I really love the sport, so I put in a real effort every time I'm here," said Harrison, who attends taekwondo classes about four nights a week. "I really enjoy training. We're like one big family here and I've made lots of friends."
Friends, family and anybody interested in checking out what taekwondo has to offer can attend the grading at 6:30 p.m.

Organizations: Street Academy, E.B. Chandler Junior High School

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