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Joe Frakes HMK TKD Instructor Biography

I have been fascinated with martial arts as far back as my childhood, most likely from watching movies and television shows with flashy fight scenes. I finally decided to explore this mysterious world when I was in college by signing up for a Karate class. The class was intense, providing a full body workout while learning the valuable skill of self-defense. But it was much more than a class – it was a club dedicated to learning the way of life of the bushido and developing camaraderie amongst its members through sake parties! After one year, Karate was in my blood and I knew that it would become a part of my life. But, would I be able to find a club with similar values after I left college?

In 1997, approximately 15 years after graduating from college, I moved from the East Coast to Sunnyvale, California to work at Lockheed Martin. It was here that I learned of a Tae Kwon Do Club that was based on self-defense, had its heritage from Shotokan Karate, and had similar values to my college Karate club. A club that places learning above all else and has a social aspect as well. I was ready to join, but life got in the way or, more precisely, our second child was on the way. I spent the next several years working overtime and raising two children with my wife. Finally, in January 2004, the kids had reached a level of independence and my work load had tapered off to the point where my wife felt comfortable with me joining the Lockheed Martin Han Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do Club.

I took full advantage of every minute I was allowed to spend in TKD class. The beginner’s class was highly technical, learning the precise position and movement of every basic technique, practicing it slowly, over and over again until it became muscle memory. The intermediates class was faster paced and had free sparring once per month. The first two years were about what I expected: learning basic techniques, forms, sparring, self-defense and getting a good workout. I was promoted to brown belt and getting a black belt no longer seemed like an insurmountable goal. However, it was during my third year of training where my journey took a completely unexpected and highly enjoyable path. I discovered my energy. My techniques now had the potential of becoming much more effective depending on how well I tapped into this previously unknown source of energy. Some of my instructors could actually “see” my energy and how I intended to use it, providing me with positive feedback that it wasn’t just my vivid imagination!

I was awarded my black belt in December 2007, approximately four years after joining the club. My focus was now split between learning the art form and learning how to teach basic techniques to new members, or so I thought. Trying to explain how to perform the basics to new members made me realize how much I did not know – which was a lot. I was still learning the basics of the art form and I continue to do so. After assisting with at least three white belt classes, taking written and verbal tests, writing numerous lesson plans, and teaching self-defense lessons in the intermediates class, I became a Certified Instructor in April 2012. I taught my first white belt class in the June - December 2012 session. I am getting “close” to being awarded a second degree black belt, but this award or recognition no longer means as much to me as when I was working towards the first degree black belt. I would still know everything I know now regardless of the color of my belt. TKD is part of my life and rank is just not important to me anymore.

I have learned some very simple but valuable lessons during my journey. I don’t get “down on myself” like I used to after making mistakes. I just learn from my mistakes and move on. I use deep breathing techniques to help relax whenever I may feel anxious. I am always ready to defend myself or my family. Whenever something might be bothering me for any reason, my response is to go to TKD class and workout. The workout helps me get a better perspective on the issue.

Although I am continuously learning from others in the club, the majority of what I have learned about martial arts has been taught to me by Bob Ramirez, Jeff Burgess, Kelly McInerney, Brian Rainie, Todd Lilly, and Aaron Weiner. I would like to acknowledge and thank them for their time and effort in helping me progress in the art form.


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