Demetris Coachman 8-09

Written by on February 25, 2010

Demonstrating Service to others and Great Perseverance to Reach His Goals!

Two simple words sum up Mr. Coachman’s life:

perseverance and service.

And what a set of accomplishments!  Here’s just a few:

  • 4th degree black belt
  • certified instructor
  • World Top Ten honors for 10 years in a row
  • Various state championships

Mr. “C” began his Taekwondo career in 1996 when Senior Master Babin started classes at the Boeing Helicopter plant in Mesa.  Over the last thirteen years, he has trained consistently, earned FOUR black belts, and a WORLD championship.  He eventually became the instructor of the classes in which he started!

His professional career in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY also demonstrates perseverance.  He has been helping engineers at Boeing install, test, deploy, and support software for twenty-six years now!

Let’s take a closer look at his thoughts and philosophy.  He started training for much the same reasons as many of us: “I liked Bruce Lee, David Carradine, and Chuck Norris.  I thought karate was cool.  I liked the power of Bruce Lee, and the patience of David Carradine.  When SMBabin started classes at Boeing, it was really convenient for me and I wanted to get in shape.”

Looking back over thirteen years of regular exercise, Mr. Coachman says: “I accomplished my goal of staying in shape.  I realized that it was based on what I put into it.  I realized that the more I put into it, the more I got out of it.  And I got a lot out of it!”

Earning first degree black belt was a “real milestone” in his life.  He calls it one of his “main accomplishments in life.”st degree black belt—has led to so many great accomplishments in Mr. Coachman’s life.  What would he have missed—and certainly what would all of us have missed—if he had seen 1st degree black belt as the END and not as the BEGINNING? And looking back now, all of us can see how perseverance—continuing the discipline of training beyond 1

How did this commitment to service begin?  Mr. C remembers: “I was told to come to a meeting.  I had no idea why I was there or what I was doing, but I followed directions.  By the end of the night, I was invited to join leadership.”

After six years of service to others as an instructor, Mr. Coachman has these comments:  “I’m not sure I would have furthered my Taekwondo career if I had not been an instructor.  That role helped me in several ways:

  • It helped me break out of shyness
  • It helped me become a better public speaker
  • It gave me more confidence

“I can have a good day at work, and after teaching, I have had an even better day.  There’s no way I have ever had a down day after teaching.  It has always made me feel better about life in general.  I love working with the students, being able to give them something they did not have when they came in to class.  Achieving 4th degree does not compare with teaching, because achieving 4th degree only affects me, but teaching affects other people.” This is the Black Belt quality of service to others.

Over the last two years, Mr. Coachman has been “back at school”.  Yes, while working full-time AND teaching black belts twice a week, he has been taking intensive college courses in which ONE semester of material is condensed into FIVE WEEKS.  Every five weeks for the last two and a half years, he has started a new course.  That was a grueling pace and he did have to give up training and some competitions.  I asked him about that because he did continue to teach when he could easily have taken a break from that as well.  He said simply:  “Although I had to give up training for that time, I did not want my college program to interfere with teaching.”  So all of you who earned 2nd or 3rd degree in the last             

two years, should give him an extra note of gratitude.  Mr. Coachman received his B.S. Degree in Management  from University of Phoenix on July 17, 2009.

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Coachman has earned WORLD TOP TEN honors for several years.  In 2003, after earning the NUMBER TWO spot in the world, he went to Little Rock with hopes of winning a gold medal in sparring.  He was eliminated in the first round.  “I was ranked number two in the world, and I was devastated by that loss.  I became determined to learn what I had done wrong and I committed to earning that number two spot again.”

And so he set out—not thinking so much of a gold medal, but taking it one week

and one tournament at a time, striving to regain that spot in the WORLD TOP TEN.  “I wanted to prove to myself that I was better than what I did in 2003.” He said that he actually did not think about the GOLD MEDAL until after he knew he had qualified for the 2004 Tournament of Champions.  That’s taking the goal one small step at a time and persevering!

You might also find it a little strange when he says this about winning a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: “It was not about winning. It was about achieving.  I remember that journey.  I remember all the competitors.  Every one of my sparring partners was a part of my gold medal.  I said to many of them, ‘I could not have done it without you.’  There’s nothing malicious about competition.  I don’t want to win at all costs.  I want to win on my own terms and that means winning by skill, with respect and control. At that level, you compete with the same people all year.  You become friends.  Then you step into the ring and it’s all business, and then when it’s over, we congratulate each other and we are still friends.”

Mr. Coachman’s words prove that many of the next generation of black belt leaders truly do understand Eternal GrandMaster Lee’s philosophy:”to compete is to win.”

In closing, I asked Mr. Coachman what he would say to someone considering joining our program and his comment was brief and clear;  “The only bad choice you can make is NOT starting.  There’s something in it for everybody.”

Thank you, Mr. Coachman, for showing us what perservance and service are all about!

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