The physical and mental strength, commitment and discipline that it takes to attain a black belt in Tae Kwon Do is a demanding and ambitious process for any athlete. Achieving a second-degree black belt is a greater challenge that most will never attempt, but it is exactly what Moore High School junior Gin Pak has done. In fact, Pak has taken his sport all the way to the most elite levels of competition and has taken away life lessons along the way that have helped him prepare for his future.
Pak has a goal of eventually becoming a surgeon and to prepare, he decided to enroll in Moore Norman Technology Center’s Biotechnology course as elective hours on his school schedule. He said he loves the course because it gets as close as possible to life itself.
“We work with DNA and cells to understand how everything is composed. This class gives me great experience with expensive technology and equipment that I get to use while in high school.
“Biotechnology exists to help people; some will see the subject as bad or good, but biotechnology can make certain areas of life better for people. Biotechnology is a science that can possibly cure cancer and diabetes,” Pak said.
Through his MNTC course, Pak is also an active member of the Health Occupations Students of America and will compete in the Career Health Display competition this semester. He is also a MNTC Ambassador and assists with recruitment activities for district high school students and is a member of MHS’ Honor Society.
Pak said he was initially worried about MNTC’s atmosphere and the curriculum being more like something he’d experience at a college, but that once he settled into the course he found the content engaging and the environment to be a comfortable place for learning.
“I love being at MNTC and my instructor (Pam Arrington) is one of the best science teachers I’ve ever had. I’m so glad I chose to come to MNTC; I’m more confident about life and where I’m going in my education,” Pak said.
Pak also gains confidence in his life through practicing, teaching and competing in Tae Kwon Do. He holds a second degree black belt from Kukkiwon, a second degree black belt from the U.S. Central Tae Kwon Do Association and a third degree black belt from Han Moo Kwan.
He began the sport at age five while living in Colorado. In 2007, Pak was in junior high and his family moved to Oklahoma. He began training at his uncle, In Hui’s gym, Grand Master Won’s Tae Kwon Do. It was through this connection that Pak found a love for the sport and developed to the point that he began coaching, judging, center refereeing and serving as a head judge for competitions.
He started serious competition after attaining a black belt level as Hui, himself a ninth-degree black belt, began recommending Pak for elite tournaments and would take him to Texas and Florida to compete. While in 8th grade, Pak lost a tournament and realized that he had to make a choice about whether or not to commit to the sport.
“I practiced all the time after that tournament. When we would do kicks or punches, I wanted mine to be 200 times harder or faster than everyone else’s. I wanted to be the best and would tire myself out mid-way through practices because of it, but I wouldn’t stop,” Pak said.
In 2008, Pak earned first place in an American Athletic Union Tournament in Texas for forms and fighting. He began competing in more inner-state and national competitions in Florida, California and Colorado and then ventured out of the country to a tournament in Korea.
“That was the hardest tournament I’ve ever been in. I had to spar older boys while I was only 14 because they grouped us by size. Although I was younger, I was as big as the older boys. Tae Kwon Do is also a mental sport, and even though I was at a disadvantage to those older boys, I placed first in forms and second in fighting,” Pak remembers.
Today, Pak continues to be involved in the sport, but does not prepare for tournaments to the same degree. He teaches Tae Kwon Do at his Hui’s gym, and also at Victory Gymnastics in Norman. Pak said over the years his sport has taught him many things about life and how to approach it.
“I had no idea what I was going to do, but through all of this, I realize that I can do anything I really want as long as I don’t quit and put in my full effort,” Pak said.
For more information about MNTC’s Biotechnology course for high school students visit www.mntechnology.com or call 364-5763, ext. 7260.