Teaching Taekwondo: Greenwood resident reaches sixth-degree blackbelt

By Grady Michael Gaynor

Rose Myers poses for a photo to show her dobok Oct. 31, 2021, at Pilsung Martial Arts in Greenwood.

An average of 2% of martial arts students ever achieve the rank of Black Belt, and even less become sixth degree black belts.

On Oct. 21, Center Grove resident Rose Myers, co-owner of Pilsung ATA (American Taekwondo Association) Martial Arts in Greenwood, was named to the high honor of “Master Instructor.” After over 20 years of fine tuning her martial arts abilities, reaching the sixth degree of black belt, and a full year of vigorous preparation, Myers was invited to the ATA Martial Arts headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. There she attended a special ceremony where she advanced, finally reaching this major milestone. In the wake of receiving this honor, Myers has reflected on the beginning of her journey in Taekwondo, and the winding path it has been to get her where she is today.

Rose Myers high kicks in her studio Oct. 28, 2021, in Greenwood.

Myers was a senior pursuing her environmental engineering degree at the University of Dayton, when she witnessed a woman nearly become a victim of sexual assault outside of her home. The next day, Myers went to work at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just outside of Fairborn, Ohio, where she began talking about the incident to one of her coworkers who happened to be a certified Taekwondo instructor.

“I told my coworker I refused to be a victim and I wanted to learn how to defend myself.” Rose recalled. “I told him I was not jumping around or making or making any crazy noises. I wanted to make sure a person with bad intentions thought twice before touching me.”

In 1996, Myers began training on the base, and soon after graduation began training with her husband Brian Myers, in a formal ATA school in Seymour, Indiana. In 2000, as a 1st degree black belt, Rose began training under Master Instructor Jay Martin to become a certified instructor, which she obtained in 2003.

In 2003, the Myers vacated their engineer salaries to start their Taekwondo school, Pilsung ATA Martial Arts. Pilsung’s mission states that they are dedicated to changing the lives of their students one person at a time through education and coaching. They strive to provide a safe, comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for all students and family members to partake in where they will develop the confidence to live their best life.

Rose Myers shows the inside of her belt Oct. 31, 2021, at Pilsung Martial Arts in Greenwood.

Brian, 4th degree black belt, is also an instructor at Pilsung, while focusing a lot of his attention on the business side of the studio. He believes Taekwondo offers a program that follows an individual throughout their life, as opposed to other physical activities that often see children phased out by the school system.

“Many people you encounter speak highly of the values they learned through more traditional sports and that is great, “ Brian explained. “However, I think an amazing aspect of Taekwondo is the total lifelong holistic journey an individual experiences both in fitness and personal development.”

Achieving the rank of 6th degree blackbelt does not entitle one to an invitation to become master instructor. Rose was 1 of 50 nationwide in her class. Her dedication to excellence is exemplified by the way she runs her gym and dedication to mastery of the arts. Rose wishes more people understood the value behind the personal development that happens in ATA classes.

“Yes, we punch and kick. We teach self defense and as you heard from my origin story, that’s very important. I especially want my young ladies to be empowered to protect themselves. Nobody should be a victim. Most importantly, the physical art provides something fun for the kids to learn while they are really working on important life skills,” Rose said. “Especially during these times of the pandemic, we had to work hard to get kids to make eye contact and to talk. When kids stop talking and interacting you see interpersonal skills get away.”

Pilsung teaches “Songahm Taekwondo”. Songahm translates to “Pine, Tree, and Rock.” According to the ATA, Songham represents, “Evergreen strength year round, long life and a symbol of unchanging human loyalty”

In 2020, Myers was given the honor of her 6th black belt and extended the invitation to begin pursuing the title of Master Instructor. Over the last 12 months, Rose was given monthly projects that included books to read paired with writing assignments, an essay on what unique aspect she brings to Taekwondo (Rose also teaches Yoga), and papers about the 7 pillars of ATA and what they mean to the her (Respect, Loyalty, Knowledge, Gratitude Honor, Humility and Nobility). 

Rose recalls the most significant milestones on her journey towards reaching Master Instructor as the 1st through 6th black belts she obtained.

“In the martial arts every blackbelt past the first degree is a major milestone. Many set a goal of achieving blackbelt and never actually get to wear it after they get it in a ceremony. There have been times when I tested I did not “change” (advance) to the next belt,” Rose said. “When I think some others may have given up, I saw this as an opportunity for growth.”  Rose continued “Most people don’t consider a failure a milestone but it afforded me the opportunity to learn martial arts deeper and in turn better help my students.”

The next rank for Rose will be to earn her 7th blackbelt. Once this is attained, she becomes eligible to be invited to pursue the title Senior Master Instructor. Rose is already in a very exclusive group, and with hard work and perseverance the sky’s the limit to what she may achieve.

Pilsung ATA Martial Arts offers classes for students of every level from preschoolers to adults. Classes and more information can be found at https://pilsungata.com/.