Interview with Erich Podbielski 3rd Dan poomsae athlete

Self-confidence is something many kids, often struggle with growing up. In addition, self-confidence can occur in many different aspects of life, but one thing certain is that Taekwondo, can help you with exactly that. In Erich’s story of his start with Taekwondo, it is again just what happened.

“I started Taekwondo when I was 10 years old at a local YMCA program. I was a very timid child and I had self-confidence issues. My parents decided to enroll me in Taekwondo in order to help my self-confidence. I was very shy at first and would often hide at the back of the class. However, as my skills grew, so did my self-confidence. Eventually, I was in the front of the class and was helping to lead small groups in certain exercises. Once I tested for my black belt, my confidence grew leaps and bounds. I saw how much Taekwondo had already given me and I decided to see what else it had in store for me in the future. That is how I ended up having the Taekwondo life I now have and I wouldn’t change a single aspect of it.”

Motivation is an important part of any sports, and what motivates us can change through the process of development. In Erich’s Taekwondo life, it started with looking up to the black belts surrounding him. However, today it is being better than the day before, that is the key motivator for him.

“My motivation stems from always wanting to learn more and be better than I was yesterday. When I was young, I looked and saw all the black belts and wanted to do what they did. That is what motivated me up to a point. However, my passion for the art is what kept me going later. I grew to low every aspect of Taekwondo and I had the privilege of instructing others in the art as well. That really field my fire as my students helped pushed me to be the best instructor, martial artist, and the person I could be.”

The art of Taekwondo in general means a great deal for Erich. However, especially training and perfecting Poomsae is his favorite part of Taekwondo.

“My favorite part of Taekwondo training is Poomsae. I love the art of Taekwondo and I have done extensive research into Poomsae and how it can be used as a combat method. Many people disregard Poomsae as being boring and repetitive. However, I find my freedom in the minute details and the perfection of every move. Besides that, I absolute love passing on the art to Taekwondo to others. It has been what has kept me going throughout the years and whenever I need inspiration, I turn to my students. While someday teaching is hard and frustrating, I enjoy the challenging and love seeing my students grow into young, capable martial artists.”

Despite winning numerous championships, especially one thing overshines all of his accomplishments. 

“My biggest accomplishments are being the first person to perform one of the new Kukkiwon Competition Poomsae in competition and being one of the first to teach these Poomsae in America. I have won numerous state and regional championships but my biggest accomplishment will always be the first black belt I passed through the art. The immense amount of pride I had at this moment is indescribable. It will always trump any championship or gold medal I may receive.”

Taekwondo is as mentioned many times, a lifelong journey. Moreover, for Erich there still are a lot of goals and dreams, and nowhere near its end.

“My future goals include testing for my 4th Degree Black Belt and becoming a master in the art of Taekwondo. This is a goal I have worked towards for a very long time and one I hope to accomplish soon! Beside this, I want to continue to grow my school, continue to compete, and continue to push myself to the limit and see what myself and Taekwondo can do together.”

Erich’s advice if you consider starting your own Taekwondo journey:

“My advice to anyone looking to start Taekwondo is to never take yourself too seriously. The beginner is always nervous about making mistakes or making a fool of themselves. They never think they are good enough or will ever be as good as the black belts are. All you need is patience. Listen to your instructor, train hard, and have fun doing so! If you follow these three rules, you will be successful not only in Taekwondo, put in everything you do!”

Erich Podbielski, 20 years old, 3rd Dan Black Belt
Lead Instructor

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