BE INSPIRED by Danny T Nguyen’s martial arts journey through TAEKWONDO.
This is a inspirational story for all martial artists, it serves as a reminder of why many of us start to train and why we continue.
His story is not a major calamity averted, it’s more a daily combination of the small things that make a big difference. It is a reflection of us all.
Danny T Nguyen:
Let’s get a few things straight, I’m not a martial arts guru, I’m a dad, but in a way I feel like I’ve been training my whole life. Not in the physical sense, but in the spirit of Tae Kwon Do.
I became a father at 17 with my high school sweet heart Tiffany, we were juniors at the time. I was young, unfocused, reckless, and hanging around a crowd that was putting me in danger. On top of that my father was a gambler and our family had a history of addiction and mental illness. In a sense, if you met me earlier in life you would have been worried, and you’d probably be right to do so. What kept me going through college while working, applying to dental school, and now graduating 9 years later as the first doctor in our family is the promise to be better, to do better for myself and the future of my children.
I’m not exceptionally intelligent, talented, or special in any way out of the ordinary, but I had one thing going for me, the belief in perseverance and indomitable spirit, which are the tenets of Taekwon-Do.
Why Did I Begin Training?
I started training 2 years ago when my oldest son began to experience bullying at school.
As I mentioned earlier, my family has a history of mental illness, which usually rooted itself in low self-esteem resulting in self destructive behavior. Having this family history made me very concerned for my son’s well-being. If you ever met my son, he is a gentle and sweet soul who finds a way to love everyone he encounters. Although this will serve him well in life it also opens him up to being abused by less understanding individuals.
To protect my son from the emotional brutality of childhood, prevent mental illness, and to build strength in character I decided to find him a martial arts school that would strengthen him and show him that being considerate, and kind does not have to mean getting abused.
How did training impact my work life?
Around this time, I was just starting my clinical training. Being exposed to patients whose care I was responsible for came with new challenges, people! Doctors, especially newer ones tend be fearful of confrontation and disappointing patients and staff. In dentistry, this presents itself with doctors being uncomfortable to recommend treatments in their patient’s best interest for fear of rejection, correct staffing behavior, and saying and doing what needs to be done because of judgement.
One of my first patients during my clinical training was extremely aggressive, unstable, and domineering women in her late forties. As a result, I was not in control of the treatments and direction of my patient’s health. I let her dictate what was best when I knew through my training was incorrect. I realized at this time that even with all of my education, training, and degrees I as an adult could still be “bullied” mentally. I decided not to let it happen again.
Where did I train? Why did I choose this teacher?
My son and I began training specifically at a Dojang near where I lived that was taught by a 6th Dan Instructor named Sabamnim Nestor Cerda who taught Traditional Taekwon-Do following the system of Master Kwon Jae Hwa 7th Dan who was one of the original pioneers of Taekwon-Do. What led me to choosing this Dojang was not all the trophies, medals, or the 25 years of experience in teaching that Master Cerda held, but the fact that he said,
“martial arts is not about kicking and punching, it’s about making yourself a better human being to care for others.”
This couldn’t be any truer as time went on.
Did I find the training regime easy?
Initially the training was not easy, being tied down to a library and desk for years studying made my body inflexible and lacking in endurance. Not having participated in any extracurriculars growing up I learned that I knew very little about my own body. But, the physical aspect was the least challenging of all, time and mental discipline was the greatest obstacles. After an early morning of studies, classes, clinical rotations, and family responsibilities at home, making time to drive to the Dojang three days a week for an hour and half of training at 7:00 pm can be overwhelming and exhausting. But I had faith in the training and I wanted to set a positive role model for my son. Being in class let my son see what could be obtained with perseverance and hard work. It wasn’t just empty words from a lecturing father.
Aside from belt grades what have we achieved?
We not only grew in strength physically, but training has made him and I more flexible, focused, calmer under pressure, and less fearful of daily challenges with both patient’s and people in general. I now look forward to confronting difficult situations and people, non-violently of course. My son has become the hero in class who sticks up for the younger and vulnerable children. It has made me into a better father, husband, doctor, and leader. To me Taekwon-Do is a way of thinking and a way of life.
I hope you enjoyed my journey and I wish the best for yours.
I am currently a blue belt testing for red. My goal is to reach 6th Dan by 50 years old and to use my training and experience to not only help people build a healthy lifestyle, but to guide them in finding their personal strength through the traditions of Grand Master Kwon Jae Hwa’s Tae Kwon Do as taught to me by Sabamnim Nestor Cerda.
Dojang: Traditional Taekwon-Do Center of Davie
Location: Davie Florida
Instructor: Sabamnim Nestor Cerda 6th Dan
Current Rank: Blue Belt