Jeremy Suh competes at international level in taekwondo


Suh won bronze at the 2018 NCTA High School Championships where he competed in poomsae.

Becky Perelman, Sports Writing Editor

When you think of a high school athlete, your mind may not immediately jump to a martial artist. However, sophomore Jeremy Suh has found taekwondo, a Korean martial art characterised by its emphasis on kicks, to be his calling.  

Suh began to learn taekwondo at the age of eight and his passion has grown and turned into success, culminating in the bronze medal at the NCTA High School Championship. Suh has been able to decorate his shelf with awards in taekwondo and already competes at an international level.

According to Young Park, Suh’s mother, Suh began to practice taekwondo to stay in touch with his roots.

“We are Korean and taekwondo is a Korean sport. My husband and I grew up in Korea, and the sport helps [Suh] identify with his identity,” Park said. “He is an American growing up here, yet, taekwondo lets him understand things about Korea. We never expected him to be this good, and we are so happy he enjoys it this much.”

Suh agreed to try taekwondo because he thought the sport might be comparable to what is portrayed in movies.

“I went along with it because my original inspiration in being like ‘why not try it’ was through movies actually” Suh said. “I always imagined martial arts to be like you grow from a kid to someone who can do flips. Definitely not realistic at all. I just thought I could be my own version of Karate Kid. I had glasses, my parents thought I looked like a complete nerd. They wanted to put me in so I wouldn’t get picked on. It was something to toughen me up, originally.”

Although Suh started taekwondo with no ultimate goal, he has grown to love the sport through competing.

“When I started taking competing seriously, it was just a really big breakthrough moment. This was something that I really love and really want to do, so why not put my entire heart into training and doing the best I can possibly do?” Suh said.

Park acknowledges that taekwondo is not always the most exciting sport; however, Suh has always worked hard in it.

“He wanted to try something else and I let him, but he came back to taekwondo and it is one of the things he has done routinely. Taekwondo is not that fun. Group sports are a lot more fun; it can be tedious and boring and it requires a lot of time and commitment,” Park said. “He is part of a club and everyone there is very supportive, which is why even when there are ups and downs they keep persevering.”

Suh has put a lot of time into his sport and has a strong work ethic, according to his coach and the head instructor at CW Taekwondo Dan Chuang, who Suh has been training with for the past two years.

“I think Jeremy has a very strong work ethic and he is good at holding himself accountable on implementing the feedback he has been given,” Chuang said. “A lot of younger athletes need to be watched over. He is very good at being independent and working on something and having it fixed by the next time I see him. That really enables him to progress more quickly and to be able to compete at the international level.”

According to Chuang, Suh trains four to five days a week and some of his sessions are three hours long. Suh also regularly goes to the gym and does other outside training, like strengthening and physical therapy.

According to Suh, he takes taekwondo very seriously because it is something he loves.

“The first step is dedication; I am very dedicated to taekwondo. I am pretty detail oriented, so I really care about every single move and how everything incorporates with one another and translates into one another, so I can really compete in my own style,” Suh said. “Then, support from my teammates and coach helps me a lot. They give me a lot of emotional and mental support and that is a very big thing.”

Park believes that it is good that her son has found a passion he is successful in.

“It is good to have passion. High school can be very demanding, so it is always good to have something else, something that he can be passionate about,” Park said.

According to Chuang, taekwondo is a sport that not only teaches how to compete: it also teaches important life values.

“Taekwondo teaches you to be persistent and to progress through your losses and address what made you lose and to have a positive growth mindset where you are always thinking about how you can improve. Taekwondo also has values and it teaches respect and courtesy and that is part of martial arts culture,” Chuang said.

Although Suh has learned the values that are central to taekwondo, he has been able to apply these values to his everyday life.

“A few values that I have acquired from taekwondo are focus and respect. So because taekwondo is an Asian sport, respect is a really big thing. You have to respect your elders and your masters, so I definitely think that has translated into my daily life with my peers, parents and teachers,” Suh said. “Through the sport I have had to develop focus, in which I have to zone out everything around me and focus on the task that I have in front of me. Focus is a really important trait to have because there are so many distractions everywhere in the world and I think it is just important to be within yourself.”

On April 7 and 8, 2018, Suh competed at the 2018 NCTA High School Championships where he earned the bronze medal. He competed in an event called poomsae, a pattern of defense and attack methods, which is more performance based.

According to Park, this is the first time Suh has competed in the championship and he deserved the recognition.

“Taekwondo has always been a part of his life, and even if he didn’t win a competition he would always say ‘I will keep going and I will not quit,’” Park said. “The championship is encouragement and motivation; it is such a big part of his life and it is nice to see him get recognition.”