Taylorsville teen embarks on Tae Kwon Do journey
At first glance, Janiry Mora hardly looks like an imposing Tae Kwon Do participant. The slender Taylorsville teenager speaks softly and flashes an ever-present smile.
Get her talking about the sport, however, and she quickly puts on her game face.
“I’ve always been doubting myself, telling myself I can’t do stuff,” Janiry, 13, said. “Now, I’m able to do (more) stuff and I don’t put myself down. I’m confident in my abilities. I want to learn more about Tae Kwon Do and more about getting first place.”
In July, Janiry, an incoming eighth-grader at Bennion Junior High, will embark on the journey of a lifetime, as she travels to Seoul, South Korea with members of her training school, Master Kwon World Class Tae Kwon Do. The contingent will not be there for competition, but rather on a fact-finding mission to discover everything they can about the sport.
“I don’t know anything about Korea,” Janiry said, “so I want to learn all I can. I want to see the beach, too, because I’ve never seen one before. I’m excited for this opportunity.”
A multiple-time state champion, Janiry has also competed in and won national Tae Kwon Do competitions in five states – Utah, Montana, Nevada, Idaho and California. Her skills were on display at the 2012 Utah Summer Games on June 16, where she competed in weapons, forms and sparring.
Last year, Janiry won a gold medal in the 11-12 female (70-82 pounds) blue/red belt sparring division and a bronze in 12-14 mixed advanced forms at the Summer Games.
In Korea, Janiry will visit world-renowned places of Tae Kwon Do, including an ancient temple where the forms of the sport are carved in the rocks. She will also learn the philosophy behind the sport, as well as have the opportunity to watch some matches firsthand. Tae Kwon Do, which loosely translates into “The way of the hand and the foot,” is the national sport of South Korea.
Prior to the Summer Games, Janiry competed in the state championships in Saratoga Springs in March, where she won three gold and one silver medal. She qualified for the national competition in Dallas, but opted instead for Korea, as the events occur about the same time.
“It’s going to be a great learning experience,” Janiry said. “I’ll get to watch some people do it.”
Janiry, who has been competing in the sport since she was 9, earned a first-degree black belt while participating with the American Tae Kwon Do Association. Seeking more advanced competition, she joined the World Tae Kwon Do Federation, which is recognized more internationally. As a result, Janiry had to re-earn all nine belts leading up to black, which can be a two-year process.
Now sporting a red-black belt, she is one belt away from where she wants to be.
The basement of the Mora’s Taylorsville home is a shrine of sorts to Janiry, showcasing the numerous trophies, plaques, medals and other awards she has earned in Tae Kwon Do. The floor of the room is also padded competition-style, enabling her to use it to practice her technique. To prepare for competitions, she practices every night at home and three times a week at her training school.
Master Kwon’s group will depart for Korea on July 1 and return July 10. Each member was asked to pay about $3,000 for the trip, which is all-inclusive. Matrix Spa & Massage and West Valley Pediatric Dentistry have helped with sponsoring her.
“People say I look good (competing), so that makes me happy,” said Janiry, flexing her muscles for good measure. “I’m looking forward to going.”