Success = Dedication + discipline
There are two students at Timmerman’s Tae Kwon Do in Blue Earth who come from completely different backgrounds.
Yet, they have one thing in common.
Brandon Benton, 37, of Fairmont and Tim Renken, 17, of Blue Earth last month earned their first-degree black belts.
For their instructor, Troy Timmerman, it’s a first.
He’s never had a student attain that level before, let alone two at the same time.
Timmerman, who has been teaching martial arts for about 15 years and is a fourth-degree black belt, was able to test his prize pupils.
“It’s a two-step process. First someone tests for their temporary deputy black belt. Then they have to test again within six months to keep it,” he says.
Citing a recent survey, Timmerman is quick to point out the accomplishment of Benton and Renken is no small feat.
He says that only one in 10 martial art students are able to attain the black belt level.
“I’m at two. I guess I’m already ahead of that,” Timmerman says.
“Both of these guys have demonstrated the personal growth and development – physically and mentally — needed to get to this level,” he adds.
While he’s played a role in helping Benton and Renken achieve their goal, Timmerman would be the first to tell you their dedication, determination and discipline was just as important.
The two have spent hours and hours perfecting their skills and technique, putting in a minimum of five hours a week.
Benton has been studying martial arts for nine years and Renken, five.
For both, introduction to the East Asian self-defense sport was by way of print advertising.Benton got his start in Mankato under a Korean master, while Renken enrolled into a class offered by Community Education.
The two admit it may have been the high-jumping kicks and fast-as-lightning fists depicted in movies that sparked their curiosity.
“Seeing other people doing those moves, I wanted to try it. I wanted to see if I was physically capable of doing that,” says Benton.
“I guess I have to thank my mom. She’s the one that got me started,” adds Renken.
The testing requirements for a black belt is proof enough the two have acquired physical skills and conditioning few will ever attain.
But, Benton and Renken say there’s more to martial arts than that.
“For me, it’s not the color of the belt that’s important. It’s the self-discipline I build and to learn the art,” says Benton. “It’s not just throwing punches, high jumps and kicks.”
When not practicing or training, they assist Timmerman with a class of youngsters.
“I’ve learned a lot of self-control and to have patience,” says Renken.
Benton says helping kids is a way to share what he has learned throughout the years.
Renken recently had an opportunity to go head-to-head against some competition at an ITT tournament held in Owatonna. He took first place in board breaking in his division.
“It’s humbling. To see how good some people really are,” he says.
There’s no doubt earning a black belt is a milestone in anyone’s martial arts career.
Timmerman is considering going for a fifth-degree belt, which he would have to travel to the Twin Cities to get.
The highest level one may achieve is an eighth-degree belt.
Benton and Renken will have to wait one year before they can test for a second-degree black belt.
“I’ll have to see how my body holds up,” Benton says jokingly.
“But him,” adds Benton, as he looks at Renken.
The 17-year-old just smiles at the thought of obtaining a higher level.
But, it is a smile of confidence.