Hi Ginny, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
It all started when I was fifteen. My parents had been divorced for about five years, and my dad lived in New York, so we didn’t see much of him. He came down to Texas for a visit, and out of the blue, told my younger brother, sister, and me that he was going to sign us up for karate that afternoon. I was just as surprised as excited – it was such a random thing for him to do, and it was the first time I remembered seeing him engaged in our lives like this. So we all walked to the YMCA in Richardson that day, and he paid for a couple of month’s worth of classes before taking us back home. He left soon after, and that was that. I am beyond grateful to have had the level of instruction that I did, and I will never forget the level of integrity and experience that went into my martial arts training over the years. I knew it wasn’t just a fluke thing that we ended up where we did; it was exactly where God wanted me to be.
As I moved through the ranks, I earned my 1st dan black belt in 1999, and it was then that I knew that I wanted to be an instructor one day. I had been assistant teaching for a couple of years, and I just knew I wanted to invest in other’s training the way others had done for me. It would have to wait a few years, however, because soon after, I moved to Virginia for a time. I continued training under two different styles of martial arts while there, but my heart was in Texas, so I moved back the following year. In 2006, I got married, and my husband and I started a family. Not long afterwards, we made the decision to homeschool our children. Who knew that this unlikely path would take me back to the aspirations of my youth! I had been teaching Tae Kwon Do with a friend of mine at her dojo for a couple of years, and it occurred to me that I could be teaching for our homeschool co-op that met once a week for extracurricular classes and field trip experiences.
The class was a hit! I taught for the co-op for a few years before students started asking if they could continue training between Friday School semesters, and I thought, “why not?” I began holding classes in our backyard, and I even picked up some new students from the co-op that had been wanting to join. It wasn’t long before it was just too hot to continue outdoors, however, so we made a little dojo out of our garage. It worked out just fine until we got more students, and we were running out of space. A couple of my students had also mentioned that they had friends (not in the co-op) who were interested in joining, and they wanted to know if I would teach them too. This was a crossroads moment for my husband and I. Do I keep the classes to ourselves, or do I open our doors to being an official school for everyone? The answer came in a very unexpected way. While we pondered this, I found out that I was pregnant. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “there is no way we can make our school any bigger in this season”, but in my heart, I was getting a very clear message to do so anyway. I was so confused because it simply made no sense.
I’m a very rational person, and I really struggled with myself for a while. Sadly, our little one did not make it earthside, and though we were heartbroken, it was in that loss that I felt a conviction that I had never had before. Our joy was stolen from us, but rather than let it define the road we were to take, I made the decision to not only open our school but to dedicate our efforts, time, and talents to God in every way I could. It was in that season of hurt and ambiguity that DMD (Disciples Making Disciples) Tae Kwon Do was officially open for business. We began renting space at a church in McKinney for our classes in 2016, and we started out with my original homeschool co-op students, plus a few extra. It was a beautiful season, as I was able to integrate Christian principles into our classes. I started an optional “Kingdom Warriors” program for our students, in which they could memorize Bible verses and various aspects of the Bible in exchange for patches to wear on their uniforms, and I began a summer writing program that engaged the students to dig deep into the Word to write on various themes I came up with.
But the most valuable aspect of our school came soon after we opened in McKinney, and I truly feel it was God-inspired. I had this wonderful program for my students to benefit from, but how could I reach a bigger audience? How could I teach children who may not know who we were? The answer was simple: books. Books that teach the tenets (character traits) of Tae Kwon Do from a Godly perspective, utilizing Scripture and Bible stories. It was as if lightning hit. But where to start? Needless to say, it was a long road, but after much time in the Word and a few year’s worth of late-late nights, we had the Kingdom Kicks series. The first book, A Lesson on Perseverance, released in 2017, and the 11th book in the series, A Lesson on Wisdom, just released this summer (2020).
I truly feel these books were meant to go out into the world because we saw evidence of God’s hand in our work from the get-go. Not long after the first couple of books were finished, I received word that the largest martial arts supplier in the US was interested in distributing the books, and they did go on to carry nearly the entire line through 2019, which enabled the books to be seen by martial artists all over the globe through their mailers, marketing, and catalogs. They were also – and still are – available on Amazon. Needless to say, it’s been quite a ride these last four years! Fast forward to today, and I am incredibly grateful to say that DMD Tae Kwon Do has seen much growth, which enables me to continue to do what I love – teach the martial arts with an emphasis on Biblical character building. I am humbled and inspired by my students’ progress and dedication, and I cannot say enough what this journey has meant to me over the years. Who knew back in 2016, or even when I was a teenager, that I would be where I am today. Summed up in two words, “praise God.” Ephesians 3:20.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I wish I could say it was, but is anything worthwhile easy? There were several areas of hardship we encountered on the way. We lost our little one just before making DMD Tae Kwon Do official, but it was not our first miscarriage – nor would it be our last. In 2018, our family suffered a devastating second-trimester loss, and I really struggled with myself afterwards. Having no indication that anything was wrong and getting multiple clean bills of health didn’t help. It was a situation that was beyond my control, and I struggled with that. To be honest, I had a bad home-life growing up, and I know that that has shaped my desire to have order and predictability in my life now. What had happened not only didn’t fit in this “box”, it completely destroyed it. I had to do a lot of introspection, and I had to be real with God.
I asked so many “why’s”, it felt as if I was a broken record. I just had to know why this had happened and what good it could have possibly done. Alas, some questions just don’t get answered in the time frame our human minds desire, so it took a lot of patience and more faith than I thought I had. But we made it through, and I am incredibly thankful to share that we welcomed our newest son in March of this year. Another aspect we struggled with was that each time we released one of our Kingdom Kicks books, our family would encounter a struggle of some kind. It was like clockwork – a car accident, sickness, identity theft (twice), a hit and run, credit card fraud on the business, our miscarriage – and adrenal fatigue following that, and the list goes on. It was a really trying time for us, but it was in that storm that we realized that what we were doing was right because we were receiving so much pushback. We kind of got in the habit of holding our breath each time a new book was released, and needless to say, it pushed our prayer life to a whole different level.
Those were just some of the personal struggles that we encountered, and though it was difficult to set all that aside and continue to teach during those times, I am so grateful that I persevered. My martial arts training and teaching has been a constant through the good and the bad times in my life, and I cannot begin to say how invaluable that was to me. There were times that I would have to bow into class and imagine myself leaving it all in that doorway. But it enabled me to focus on one thing – something that was neutral and something that allowed me to use my talents for the Kingdom. That shift in perspective has been an anchor of hope for me over the years, and I am both humbled and grateful for that. I also feel very strongly that those seasons of hardship fueled my desire to always take what we were doing with DMD up a notch.
When I was fearful, I would integrate that into a lesson for my students. Recently, I asked each of our younger students what they were afraid of, then I drew it on a board with “Philippians 4:13” written on the back. I had them recite the verse, then break their boards. It was such a hit! If the students seem to be struggling with their memorization efforts, I provide them with ministry materials to help them at home. When covid hit this year, I used it as a theme for our summer writing program, asking our students, “how have you seen God glorified during this time of confusion?” It’s amazing to me that through these seasons of hardship, I have learned more about my own limitations and weaknesses, which led me to rely on God’s strength – not my own. It seems counter-intuitive to be okay with weakness, especially in the martial arts, but I can say that it was during those times that I felt the most vulnerable that God really showed His strength the most. Galatians 6:9
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about DMD Tae Kwon Do?
DMD Tae Kwon do is a Christian martial arts school with an emphasis on character building. I am indebted to my instructor, Grandmaster Keith Yates, in so many ways, but one thing about his instruction that I really took away, it’s that a real martial artist doesn’t just train the body. You have to train your mind, heart, and body. If I only teach my students how to fight physical battles, I feel I am doing them a disservice. We all have struggles throughout our lives, and at times, they come when we are least prepared. This is why I emphasize training for both physical and spiritual battles. To do that, it takes physical strength, discipline, self-control, integrity, and more. I train my students in American Nam Seo Kwan Tae Kwon Do, and we follow the guidelines of the American Karate and Tae Kwon Do Organization (AKATO), an organization created by Grandmaster Yates. I am very blessed to be a part of AKATO, which is comprised of numerous talented martial artists that are knowledgeable, supportive, and encouraging. From offering continued education opportunities to hosting annual tournaments, there are ample ways for even seasoned martial artists to continue to learn.
Our system is truly one of integrity, and it is my hope that my students feel the same about my instruction. I have my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but I have also trained in other styles of martial arts over the years, including Japanese Shotokan, traditional Okinawan, Wing Chun, and I will be testing for my black belt in Kobudo (weapons) next month. I do try to integrate little nuggets of perspective from these other styles into my classes, but our official “style” is Tae Kwon Do. DMD Tae Kwon Do offers classes for both children and adults, and we have some families that have trained together for years. It is always inspiring for me to see their dedication and hard work come to fruition during rank exams, but more so to see their confidence and character development during their martial arts journeys. We hold our classes in Anna, Texas. For more information, please visit us at www.dmdtaekwondo.com www.facebook.com/dmdtaekwondo Matthew 5:14-16.
If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Growing up, I was an odd one, and I say that with a chuckle because I still tend to be that way. But one of the great things about growing up is that you can find “your tribe”, and instead of standing out of the traditional mold, you can be appreciated for who you are. I was a book worm, and I loved school. I used to beg my mom to put me in private school where I could be challenged more because I was miserable where I was, and I was always looking for opportunities to learn wherever I could. I was particularly interested in history and science. I was always writing stories and poems, and I wanted to be a writer very early on. I was mature for my age, so I had trouble relating with other kids. I would much rather be talking with my teachers at recess than playing, and I was picked on for that. Then I would go home, and home wasn’t a good place either, so I feel like overall, I was pretty insecure growing up.
I do appreciate, however, that over the years, these experiences have made me a stronger person overall. Though I would never say that I am grateful for those shaky years, I do recognize that I can use those experiences in the “now” for the benefit of others and to the glory of God. I was, and still am, empathetic to a fault. I struggle with overextending, giving of myself and not taking the time to “fill back up”, and delegating is a foreign concept to me because I have always had unrealistic expectations for myself. I was also very independent, stubborn, creative, and analytical, all of which I carried into adulthood. Finally, I have always been down to earth and most comfortable around sincerity. I appreciate “realism” far more than a façade. I realize all of these facets have enabled me to be exactly where I am today – doing what I do for the glory of the Kingdom. And for that, I am humbled and thankful. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.
- $60 Per Month