By Wendy Burton
He hurt his ankle at his first tae kwon do competition and his coach had to carry him off the floor, crying.
Josh Sterner was only 7 years old, a little guy and a little shy, said the coach, Daniel Snyder.
Today, Sterner is a 14-year-old black belt in tae kwon do who recently brought home the bronze medal from the national championships held in Chicago.
And he stopped being shy a long time ago, Sterner said, thanks to his training in tae kwon do.
“At 7 years old, I did play a lot of sports, but I considered myself a little shy,” Sterner said, talking about when he took his first tae kwon do class with Snyder. “It was kind of cool. But, yeah, I was a little scared because there were a bunch of people and I didn’t know them.”
But his shyness didn’t last long, he said.
“In a very short period of time practicing, you get to know everyone better,” he said. “It actually does help you socially because you have to go to competitions and there’s lots of people there.”
Sterner’s coach said the tae kwon do classes held three nights a week at the Intermediate Elementary physical education room are good for any age, boys and girls.
Snyder is a fourth dan master instructor of tae kwon do. He’s a six-time state champion and a silver medalist at junior Olympics in 1993, a bronze medalist at the Pan-Am games in 1994 and the 2012 National Champion for the 33-43 age bracket men’s black belt.
Snyder said he’s proud of Sterner’s accomplishments in tae kwon do.
“He competed this year as a red belt. But at his age, if you win as a black belt at the National Championships you make it on the national team and start training with the JUnior Olympics,” Snyder said. “He is the state champion for his division, the gold medalist, and next year he could actually make the National Team because he has earned his black belt and will be fighting in the black belt division.”
Sterner said tae kwon do is a valuable skill that has benefited him in many ways.
“You become more disciplined and you understand more about not acting out as much,” he said. “And you get a sense of accomplishment winning a fight or earning the next belt.”
Sterner said those who study tae kwon do will learn honesty and integrity.
“Honesty, because you have to be honest about yourself and your abilities and work harder to improve them,” he said. “Integrity through helping others.”
Sterner helps the younger participants at the classes Snyder teaches now that he has earned his black belt.
“I come here to help him (Snyder) and teach to the best of my ability,” he said.
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton