DeWinter family earns second degree blackbelts together

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Five-years-ago, Steve DeWinter encouraged his wife, Naomi DeWinter, and his three daughters, Sachi, Miya, and Kimi DeWinter, to join him in taking taekwondo lessons. “As a family, we sought instruction from Riverbend Taekwondo Academy because I wanted my wife and three daughters to learn how to defend themselves against aggressors,” he shared. Over the past five years, the whole family has worked up the ranks, taking 12 different belt tests in all, and eventually earning their second degree blackbelt together Oct 8.

As the DeWinters progressed through each different belt together, they have had opportunities to attend many competitions and seminars throughout the region, increasing their knowledge and allowing them to put the skills they have learned to the test. Steve DeWinter has found these opportunities especially enjoyable, as it allows everyone in the family to experience different aspects of taekwondo and then share their experiences with each other afterwards. “We’re usually separated from one another, during testing or competition, so it’s always fun to rejoin at home and share our personal experiences of the events, which include performing our taekwondo forms, board-breaking, sparring, and weapons demonstrations.”

Though earning a blackbelt and then advancing through its different degrees represents a challenge in and of itself (the test to earn a second degree black belt takes four hours), DeWinter shared that he and his family have found transitioning to teaching the most challenging part of learning taekwondo. “The most challenging aspect of taekwondo, for all of us, has been the transition from students to teachers, though we never cease being learners of the art,” he said. “As black belts, we are now called upon to assist in the instruction of newer class members and lower belt ranks in our own academy; we also function as judges at belt tests and tournaments.”

Naomi Sachi, Kimi, Miya, and Steve DeWinter all earned their second degree black belts Oct. 8. Photo courtesy Steve DeWinter.

All along their journey as taekwondo students, DeWinter has gotten a lot of satisfaction out of watching his children, now 18, 15, and 12, develop into adept martial artists. “Personally, I have most enjoyed watching my daughters grow in the areas of self-confidence, perseverance, determination, commitment, and athletic ability,” he reflected.

Overall though, DeWinter has valued and continues to appreciate getting to spend time with his family developing useful skills and knowledge that each of them can benefit from throughout their whole lives. “I think it rather unique that a family of five began taekwondo instruction together as beginners, nearly five years ago, and continued to learn and train until we all successfully attained the rank of black belt, together as a family,” he observed: “My wife and I are quite pleased with the way in which our three daughters have persevered, grown, and matured as a result of their hard work, diligence, and dedication. Taekwondo continues to be a fun activity which our whole family enjoys doing together!”

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