I was likely destined to become a martial artist. Growing up I remember watching my father practicing martial arts, mainly Chen style T’ai Chi and Bagua. My own practice of Ji Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do began when I was a freshman in college, when Luke Ryan started a class at the local athletic club. My sister Kira and I were there the first day of class, my father began one week later.
Around 4th gup I made a move from working in a clinical setting to a research setting at UMass to help me decide where to go after college. I began working in the Motor Control Lab in the Kinesiology department under the guidance of Dr. Richard Van Emmerik. All this while I was practicing TKD with Luke, learning about the eastern ideas of balance and movement, while in the lab our research was about balance and mobility issues in people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a neurological disorder that causes lots of sensory (e.g. vision, touch, inner ear) and motor impairments (e.g. muscular weakness, muscular asymmetries, fatigue, etc) which combine to impair balance.
After graduating college, I decided to continue on for my masters degree in the Motor Control lab with Richard as my advisor. Because of my training as a martial artist and my research experience with western ideas of how we balance and control movement, I decided to combine my interests for my thesis. Our previous research mainly measured how balance/mobility changes occurred in MS, but nothing had yet been done to try to improve these issues. So I decided to implement a martial arts balance intervention for people with MS to see if balance could be improved. Really any martial art could work as a balance intervention, but I decided from my experiences doing TKD and working with MS individuals that Tai Chi with its slow paced, gentle, smooth techniques would allow for a less intimidating means of improving balance. Because of this as a 2nd gup I began training (my non-TKD days) with Jeff Felberbaum and later with Jeff Rosen to learn Yang style Tai Chi.
It has been 3 years since I finished my masters, and am now a TKD Il Dan and doctoral student in the Motor Control lab. At this point I have practiced TKD for 8ish years and Tai Chi for 4.5 years, so I consider myself more of a martial artist not specifically TKD or Tai Chi. My dissertation will be a continuation of my masters work, likely a 3 month Tai Chi intervention for MS individuals with more evaluation of how people respond to unbalancing stimuli after training.
As a martial artist my personal interests include: merging the internal Tai Chi training (coordination of breath/movement, energy circulation during moving, and internal attentiveness to rootedness/being centered) with the external TKD techniques to work on: power generation, speed, and technique precision. Currently I practice and teach both TKD and Tai Chi, and am working on my dissertation study design.
Outside the dojang I enjoy: reading, hiking, camping, traveling and watching movies with my husband David, nerding out with fellow grad students, and working as a cat care specialist at Dakin Humane Society (Kitten ICU & Adult Cat Caregiver).
I look forward to meeting everyone at the reunion!