On the Mat

Student discusses teaching taekwondo


Ella Lim, Staff Writer

For many students, the 2:45 p.m. release bell marks not only the end of school but also the imminent start of the work day. For sophomore Nikoo Tahmasebi, it marks her transition from student to teacher as she steps into the role of teaching children the martial art, taekwondo, at Ko Martial Arts.

“I started learning taekwondo when I was 3-years-old” Tahmasebi said. “I was a helper in the leadership program for a while. I quit when I was 13, but I started working as an assistant instructor August of 2022.”

Though her main reason for starting the job was college applications, she quickly changed her mind after just a few days.

“I keep teaching because I enjoy teaching these kids discipline through taekwondo and techniques,” Tahmasebi said. “For children, [taekwondo is] a good disciplinary situation to help them build courage, perseverance and other things you usually won’t find in school [settings]. Personally, I became a self-reliant person which allows me to have coordination to learn my forms and techniques.”

Spending nine hours teaching each week and putting in an extra hour on Thursdays to take an additional class for instructors, her employment comes with unique challenges that most others don’t have.

“My least favorite part is the nervousness [I feel] when the parents and my supervisors are watching me teach — I have to record my classes [in order to] get feedback from my supervisors,” she said. “I get scared that I might be doing something wrong or handling a student wrong, especially in such a disciplinary situation. It’s a lot of hard work to get to a point where you can be comfortable leading a class.”

However, Tahamsebi believes the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

“My favorite part about teaching is having fun with the kids, which is kind of cringe,” she said “I love the change I see in students. When a student first comes in, [they can be] super shy and hugging their parents, crying. Then a few weeks later, they’re the loudest ones in the class, the ones raising their hands the most, and the ones putting in a lot of effort. Seeing that transition in such a short amount of time really shows we do make a difference in these kids’ lives.”

The martial art not only helps the kids learning it but also the ones teaching it. 

“You get leadership skills,” Tahmasebi said. “You’re leading a classroom, using your voice and having some type of presence where you can’t be shy.” 

This part-time job hasn’t just been a small part of Tahmasebi’s life, as taekwondo has shaped her to be who she is today.

“Taekwondo is a very unique opportunity and skill to always learn at any age,” she said. “You can always easily pick it back up, too, which is why I love it so much. I think everyone should try it out at least once in their lifetime.”