The DIOP Circle V.38

April 5th, 2020


Courtney Manley

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we've got Courtney Manley. She's our 383rd customer and is drawn to the style of the Cashew bandana. And she's going to share how she developed a love for martial arts.

I got into Karate in the first grade because it piqued my interest the most at that time.

Although I was nervous, I participated in numerous tournaments, which led to me getting my junior black belt in 2001. My practice of martial arts slowed in 2002, due to the introduction to sports such as track and field in middle school. Although I didn’t continue Karate, martial arts still heavily influenced my life. During middle and high school, I became really interested in anime. I got into shows like: Dragon Ball Z, Tenchi Muyo, and Cowboy Bebop.

During my last semester of college in 2011, my schedule wasn’t as hectic so I used my extra credit hours to take Taekwondo. By the time I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I had ranked up to a yellow belt. After college, I found Greensboro Black Belt Academy to continue my martial arts journey.

What attracted me to martial arts initially was that it’s something anyone can get into. People might feel or made to feel that they aren’t good enough to play sports. There are a lot more sports than just team sports. Anyone can be good at martial arts. Not only does it give you discipline and self-control, it improves your confidence.

Part of why it’s so accessible is that there’s new material at each level. The new set of forms helps to sharpen your skills. You can’t be sloppy or get discouraged. I had a bad experience in Karate. I got kicked in the stomach while sparring and from then on, I didn’t enjoy sparring or even fighting in general. But that’s something you have to develop. And as you rank up to a higher level, you have to showcase what you’ve learned through sparring, forms, and self defense. Overcoming that obstacle was how I continued to improve.

What I’ve learned most about myself through Taekwondo is how to persevere. I used to get easily frustrated with things. I learned how to get over roadblocks without getting discouraged. Not giving up has obvious benefits in martial arts but it’s impact is most felt outside of that. Now I don’t quit because I learned to press on. Sometimes I overthink it but I’m always trying to get into a flow state. I hope I can learn to be more confident. And like perseverance, it can lead into everyday life.

Getting my black belt in 2015 was a great achievement. You go through all these levels over the years, each more challenging than the last but unique in their own way. I broke a lot of boards and endured a lot of sparring. The end result was rewarding. I felt especially accomplished to prove that I could still do it as an adult. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You’d see people older than me in the gym doing it with their kids.

I now help teach classes as an assistant instructor. The hardest part of that is being self-aware. You wonder whether you’ve not only said something right but if you’ve taught it correctly. You have to pay close attention because if the student does it wrong, it’s your responsibility. It’s also tricky because you may not have the time to work on your own skills, especially as those get harder.

Making the time has to be intentional. Martial arts also influences my creativity. In a podcast that my friends and I started, I created a character that is a powerful warrior. Her impeccable spear wielding skills and amazing athleticism is reminiscent of my love for martial arts.

In February 2019, I received my third degree Black belt. You aren’t competing with others. You’re competing with yourself. If you can keep that in mind, it’ll be helpful throughout your life. The goal isn’t to be competitive but to improve as a person. Once you think you’ve learned everything, the more you realize how much you still have to learn. You get better by making yourself better.


The DIOP Circle V.38

April 5th, 2020


Courtney Manley

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we've got Courtney Manley. She's our 383rd customer and is drawn to the style of the Cashew bandana. And she's going to share how she developed a love for martial arts.

I got into Karate in the first grade because it piqued my interest the most at that time.

Although I was nervous, I participated in numerous tournaments, which led to me getting my junior black belt in 2001. My practice of martial arts slowed in 2002, due to the introduction to sports such as track and field in middle school. Although I didn’t continue Karate, martial arts still heavily influenced my life. During middle and high school, I became really interested in anime. I got into shows like: Dragon Ball Z, Tenchi Muyo, and Cowboy Bebop.

During my last semester of college in 2011, my schedule wasn’t as hectic so I used my extra credit hours to take Taekwondo. By the time I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I had ranked up to a yellow belt. After college, I found Greensboro Black Belt Academy to continue my martial arts journey.

What attracted me to martial arts initially was that it’s something anyone can get into. People might feel or made to feel that they aren’t good enough to play sports. There are a lot more sports than just team sports. Anyone can be good at martial arts. Not only does it give you discipline and self-control, it improves your confidence.

Part of why it’s so accessible is that there’s new material at each level. The new set of forms helps to sharpen your skills. You can’t be sloppy or get discouraged. I had a bad experience in Karate. I got kicked in the stomach while sparring and from then on, I didn’t enjoy sparring or even fighting in general. But that’s something you have to develop. And as you rank up to a higher level, you have to showcase what you’ve learned through sparring, forms, and self defense. Overcoming that obstacle was how I continued to improve.

What I’ve learned most about myself through Taekwondo is how to persevere. I used to get easily frustrated with things. I learned how to get over roadblocks without getting discouraged. Not giving up has obvious benefits in martial arts but it’s impact is most felt outside of that. Now I don’t quit because I learned to press on. Sometimes I overthink it but I’m always trying to get into a flow state. I hope I can learn to be more confident. And like perseverance, it can lead into everyday life.

Getting my black belt in 2015 was a great achievement. You go through all these levels over the years, each more challenging than the last but unique in their own way. I broke a lot of boards and endured a lot of sparring. The end result was rewarding. I felt especially accomplished to prove that I could still do it as an adult. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You’d see people older than me in the gym doing it with their kids.

I now help teach classes as an assistant instructor. The hardest part of that is being self-aware. You wonder whether you’ve not only said something right but if you’ve taught it correctly. You have to pay close attention because if the student does it wrong, it’s your responsibility. It’s also tricky because you may not have the time to work on your own skills, especially as those get harder. Making the time has to be intentional. Martial arts also influences my creativity. In a podcast that my friends and I started, I created a character that is a powerful warrior. Her impeccable spear wielding skills and amazing athleticism is reminiscent of my love for martial arts.

In February 2019, I received my third degree Black belt. You aren’t competing with others. You’re competing with yourself. If you can keep that in mind, it’ll be helpful throughout your life. The goal isn’t to be competitive but to improve as a person. Once you think you’ve learned everything, the more you realize how much you still have to learn. You get better by making yourself better.


Courtney Manley

Follow Courtney Manley @assortedcashew and learn more about her fantasy gaming podcast, please visit www.shadowedlandgaming.com

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


- Courtney Manley


Follow Courtney Manley @assortedcashew and learn more about her fantasy gaming podcast, please visit www.shadowedlandgaming.com

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.