Miranda Theriot is a second degree black belt with MAMA. Although only 17, she has proven herself time and time again. She has taught the Gilpin and Idaho Springs adult and kid classes and is coinstructor for the kinder kicks classes in Gilpin. She helps to plan many of their activities (game days, tournaments, and demonstrations), and takes over whenever needed. Don’t let her size fool you, she’s actually the resident task master and keeps everyone in line – both students and instructors. We consider her one of our peers and she has taught us just as much as we have taught her.
1. What got you into Tae Kwon Do?
There was once a time when I was once a very meek, small person. While playing on the playground, when I was in 3rd grade I do believe, some boy twisted my arm and made me cry and so my parents then decided that I should be in martial arts. My mom took me down to boulder to a Karate Dojo where they gave me a free lesson, but once my mom heard the price we ran out of there and never returned. That same year we moved to Gilpin county, five minutes from the recreation center where my friend was taking Tae Kwon Do. My friend quit at yellow belt but by then I had fallen in love; there was no going back.
2. What’s your favorite thing about Tae Kwon Do?
I like the strength of the style itself. There’s no messing around; just one hit and the fight is over, no beating around the bush. It’s very rigid, but it also has a unique sort of flow and grace to it. In our particular school my favorite thing is that, especially within the black belt community, differences don’t matter. No matter what age, race, gender, size etc. you are, you’ll get a fair chance to learn and excel just like everyone else.
3. Have you studied any other martial arts?
Besides my brief run in with a martial arts school in Golden, not really. For my second degree black belt test I did learn a Shotokan form. I’ll be going to college in just a year (but it feels like forever) and while I’m there a little more out in the world I’d like to both teach a bit of my martial art and explore some new ones, particularly Judo and Jujitsu, if I can find the time.
4. What do you do when you’re not doing Tae Kwon Do?
I Go to school, do homework, hang around with my friends and, like most teenagers, I spend a fair amount of my time lazing about my house staring at a computer screen.
5. What aspect of Tae Kwon Do have you struggled most with?
When I first started sparring was hard for me because I used to not be a very aggressive person (emphasis on “used to”) but my main struggle has pretty much always been breaking. I didn’t break a board until I was a green belt. I’m a lot stronger now, but some breaks, like brick breaking, still pose quite a challenge for me. I’m just small but I think I’m pretty strong for my size.
6. Favorite weapon and why?
My favorite weapon is the fan because it’s so unique; not many people can wield it well. It fits very naturally with my style and I hear that to truly do well with a weapon you must think of it as an extension of yourself. Also the form I do with the fan I am particularly proud of because not only did I learn it on my own from a video Master Bishop made, I learned how to do it with my left hand by actually mirroring the video. So the fan itself is a very unique weapon, and the way I do it is especially unique because I’m a south paw.
7. Favorite technique and why?
It’s too hard for me to just pick one favorite. Most black belts would be able to tell you what my signature sparring moves are because I use them so often, so I suppose that I would say those are my favorites, super high round kick and front hand back fist to the temple. I also really like ridge hands, crane strikes and elbows (the kind you would use in a fight when you don’t have enough room for a punch or kick) just because it takes a lot of technique to be able to do them effectively with speed and strength.
8. How has Tae Kwon Do changed you?
Like I said I used to be very shy and I had very little confidence. Tae Kwon Do gave me power and gave me something that I really shined in so I could feel good about myself and build up some self esteem. It was a challenge that I really needed, and I wouldn’t be nearly the same person I am today without it.
9. What would you tell someone just starting out in martial arts?
Pace yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a black belt. You will make mistakes but if you take them each on step at a time you will become a better martial artist for it. It’s good to have a goal of becoming a black belt and definitely keep it in your sight, but focus more on just getting to that next belt. Every time you do your form or your step sparring or whatever ask yourself “what can I do better?” and then make it happen, even if it’s something small like fixing your counter hand on one particular move or pointing your toes more forward on your front stances. If you need help finding something to make better ask a black belt. I promise that we don’t criticize you to be mean, we really do just want what’s best for you so don’t be too afraid of us.
10. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I really don’t like to boast too much about my martial arts. For one I’m not looking to get into a “whose martial art is better” contest. When I meet someone new and mention my martial arts to them if they themselves are in martial arts it’s suddenly like we’re having a whole different conversation. It’s like they’re sizing me up or something, like they feel the need to loyally defend their style. Truthfully I’m more interested in sharing techniques and philosophies. I don’t believe that Tae Kwon Do, although I love it, is the one true best way of fighting and neither is any other style. They all have their pros and cons and I want to learn from all different martial arts in order to improve my own personal style of fighting. I also hate it when people insist that I show off my skill, that I fight them or break something on command or what have you. Even with new students in class they always seem to want me, and me specifically, to prove myself. I figure it has something to do with my being a skinny, 17-year-old, girl black belt and they being a big, strong, grown man (because this is most often the case) that now has to learn from me. I just want to go about my way and do my martial arts in peace without all that competition.
11. Favorite form?
Passi because it looks impressive and snakes are cool.
12. Favorite place?
The giant, beat-up armchair in my living room that we’ve had for over ten years.
13. Favorite book/author?
Harry Potter. Harry Potter all the way.
14. Favorite movie or tv show?
The Big Bang Theory
15. Favorite quote?
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” -Albert Einstein
16. Favorite season?
Probably fall because it’s so beautiful, even though it doesn’t last very long around here. At that time I’m still excited about getting back to school and starting my new classes and all. The weather is usually sunny but it’s still cool, that is until it starts snowing and then it’s freezing for a good six or seven months.
17. Favorite food?
Pretty much all seafood. Crab, lobster, shrimp, calamari, oysters (especially raw) you name it.
18. What hobbies do you have?
I make origami and I do a counting cross stitch. I have such a calculating, mathematical mind that when I do artsy things they need to be very specific.
19. Pets and/or kids?
I have a dog named Gumbo and I have two cockatiels named Sierra and Zephyr.
20. What did/do you want to be when you grow up?
Since I was in 2nd grade I’ve always known that I will be a zoologist and work in a zoo. No way I’m turning back now.
21. What do you want to learn?
This school year I’m looking forward to learning some physics, calculus and about how to conduct professional scientific experiments in my individual research class. After I graduate and head off to college (so close, but yet so far…) I’d like to learn biology beyond the basic high school level, psychology, animal psychology, evolutionary science, possibly more calculus and Latin. Outside of school I want to learn outdoor survival, how to care for exotic animals in zoos, how to rock climb, how to kayak, I want to get my diver’s certification and of course I want to do some more martial arts.
22. If you were a cartoon character, who would you be and why?
Garfield. He gets to just lay around, eat lasagna and complain about Mondays all the time. Sounds like the perfect life to me.
23. Who or what inspires you?
When I was younger I was really inspired by Steve Irwin because he was just so passionate about what he was doing and he clearly loved to teach people about it. Jane Goodall because she seems to know that we’re not so different from animals once we learn to understand each other. Stephen Colbert because he is just so charismatic and clever and you can’t deny it takes a lot of guts to say some of the things he says on TV. Finally, Barack Obama because he came from having so little and was still able to get an education and make something of himself, which gives me hope that although my family doesn’t have a lot of money I can still pursue my dreams and make a difference.
24. One thing you wish you were better at?
25. What super power would you want to have?
Teleportation because it feels like everything is too far away from where I live.