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Mom and Taekwondo Master Looks for “균형” in Personal Life

juliet doAfter a night filled with intense and grueling workouts and visits to the gym. Students lay across the floor after sparring, sweating, which caused exhaustion after intense preparation.

They begin to compare and match bruises while trying to muster up the energy to stand. Julia Do, 37, dojang master and mother of four begins to reminisce on her fondest moments with her taekwondo teammates. As a third –degree black belt in taekwondo, Do spends some of her time during the week volunteering at Chang’s Martial Arts in Chicago, Illinois.

She teaches and trains alongside her spouse Luis Lovis under Master Lanre Lawanson. “There was something special about going through everything together and sharing the pain and understanding,” Do says. “As much as taekwondo is an individual journey, it wouldn’t have been the same if I had done it alone.”

As a Cornell University alumni, Do discovered her passion for taekwondo during her freshman year. Cornell joined a large taekwondo program, which was very competitive and intense. “ I pretty much lived and breathed taekwondo working out several hours a day, competing at tournaments, and eventually teaching and training others once I became a black belt,” Do says.

Her parents were not supportive of her desire to study dojang but this didn’t stop her. “Even now I think they have a vague notion that I’m a black belt in some martial art, but they don’t really know what I do,” Do says. “They’ve never seen me in class, in competition, at a belt test, teaching a class.” Several time was consumed practicing taekwondo that displayed Do’s dedication for the martial arts.

Lovis, Do’s husband and biggest supporter, is also a black belt and after college, they continued practicing taekwondo together. After their marriage and the beginnings of raising a family it has opened a new chapter in her life. It’s been a challenging transition for Do raising children and still trying to do what she loves. “We struggled trying to raise a family while still making time to work out. But after our fourth was born, I finally decided that I had to go back to taekwondo,” Do says.

With four children all under ten years old Do says mixing parenting and taekwondo is a hard job. Do’s children, along with her husband, attend the dojang when they are either teaching a class or training. Three of the four kids are enrolled in classes at Chang’s Martial Arts.

Do shared the difficulty of switching off from taekwondo mode to mommy mode. “ I take taekwondo very, very seriously, and when I’m at the dojang, I’m in training mode or teaching mode. But when the kids are at the dojang too, it really throws me off, because suddenly I’m wrenched into mom mode too,” Do says. “Kids are screaming, crying, whining, fighting over the iPad, running around the dojang, basically being kids and it jars me.”

She feels very confident in control and authoritative when she is in taekwondo mode versus in parenting mode, feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, frantic and frustrated. “ It’s terribly embarrassing trying to teach class and maintain discipline when our two-year-old runs in crying because she wants a bag of fruit snacks,” Do says.

With the help of Do’s husband at the dojang it makes it less stressful rather than having to deal with the kids herself and teach a class.. As Do was helping train a student at the dojang, the youngest child ran out of the children’s taekwondo training room with a bag of Welchers Fruit Snack. She was running all through the adult raining room with the fruit snack bag needing someone to open it.

Lovis saw his wife assisting someone and automatically stopped and opened the bag and carried the toddler to the next room. Do described how good her husband was at handling the kids while they were teaching.

“Luis is much better at multitasking, and he usually steps out of class and troubleshoots when the kids are really out of hand,” Do says.

While observing this incident, you could instantly see how much of a team Luis and Do truly are. In the beginning of her taekwondo journey, she was used to working with a team and she was very close with that team. One can see the effect of that today because while talking about her husband, their team effort is shown by working to take care of the kids together. They also work together while practicing taekwondo. She says how much she appreciates his presence and she likes to hear his opinion on what they should do next or what to do with the kids.[pullquote]균형 means balance in Korean. Dojang is a term used in Korean martial arts, such as taekwondo, Kuk Sool Won, and hapkido, that refers to a formal training hall. It is typically considered the formal gathering place for students of a martial art to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.[/pullquote]

Do stepped away from taekwondo after her first-born and stopped training altogether. “I think we were pretty unprepared for the demands of parenting, and even with our second and our third, we couldn’t quite balance hobbies, working out, basically anything outside of being parents,” Do says. “I was feeling pretty depressed about work, parenting, life, but more importantly, taekwondo.”

Lovis shared how good his wife is at balancing being a mother and still doing taekwondo.“I think she does an excellent job managing four kids and making time to practice taekwondo,” Lovis says. “Raising kids is a tough job and for her to watch the kids pretty much full time and than come at night to teach and to do taekwondo, I think that’s a lot to balance and she is doing an excellent job. I’m a big fan of my wife.”

Do sacrificed her love for taekwondo to raise her family. But now, four kids later, taekwondo is where she needs to be, and her family is ready to take this journey with her.

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