Students in Terry Newton's class recite the tenets of tae kwon do every day: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. Cody Jung, Newton says, epitomizes the way the program works.
"Rather than being complete physical training, we spend a lot of time working on how to conduct ourselves, morals, et cetera," said Newton, who runs Terry Newton's Tae Kwon Do Academy in Martinez.
Columbia Middle School teacher Cynthia Wheeless says it's evident that 13-year-old Cody has high morals and character.
"To me, he's always stood out," said Wheeless, Cody's algebra teacher. "He's so polite. I wish all of our kids were like Cody."
The son of Neil and Shirley Jung of Martinez, Cody and older brother Clint are focused on their tae kwon do training. Cody placed second in free design in the super junior (ages 11-15) category during a national competition in September and in 2002. Cody, a third-degree black belt, also placed third in the International Tae Kwon Do Alliance.
On the International Tae Kwon Do Association's Web site, the black belt is said to signify "the darkness beyond the sun. A black belt seeks new knowledge of the Art. As he/she begins to teach others, he/she begins planting new seeds, his/her students, many of which will take root deep into the Art, blossom and grow through the ranks in a never-ending process of self-growth, knowledge and enlightenment."
Cody Jung, 13, has a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"Tae kwon do is something I've always wanted to try," said Cody, who has taken classes since he was 7. "I go pretty much because it's a lot of fun. I really enjoy it."
An A honor student at Columbia Middle School, Cody has little time outside of school and his tae kwon do training for other extracurricular activities.
"All my time's dedicated to tae kwon do," the eighth-grader said, estimating that he spends eight to 10 hours a week training.
His training has earned him the title of senior junior instructor at Newton's academy, where he assists instructors by helping other students master tae kwon do. According to Newton, Cody has completed all of the qualifications to become an instructor but has yet to meet the minimum age requirement of 15.
Cody is adamant that he will continue with the sport until he is no longer able. "I'm going to stay with it as long as I can," he said.
Newton said he has seen no evidence that Cody will not continue his training.
"In tae kwon do, we're always looking at something as a goal," Newton said. "Being an instructor is another goal for Cody."
In two years, Cody will be able to test for his black collar and senior third-degree certification. He recently began sword training, where he is learning the tradition and honor that comes with the weapon.
"Our sword training is not like what you see on TV," Newton said. "It's not the stuff you see on ESPN. This is a traditional, honored training system with ties back to the Korean warriors."
While he may seem tough on the outside, on the inside Cody is a compassionate young man whom Wheeless calls extremely tenderhearted.
"When you might be down a little bit, he'll say something that will make you smile and feel good," Wheeless said.
That compassion is part of the etiquette and social grace taught in tae kwon do, Newton said.
"We're reinforcing the home values," he said.
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