They are more than instructors. More than martial artists. With the somatic movement of their lives, Lynn and Gary Williams teach more than just blocks and kicks. They teach the art of Taekwondo. As the owners of West Coast Taekwondo, the Williams have spent the last 28 years of their lives sharing their Taekwondo talent with hundreds of students. They have created a safe learning environment for all personalities to flourish, and have fostered an affectionate community within the school. But that is far from where their stories begin.
Thirty-three years ago, the Williams began learning Taekwondo in Irvine at the USTA club, started by the chief of police from Alabama.
“We started taekwondo because we were looking for a family activity. Lynn, our son, and I were all in great shape because we were doing our own forms of physical exercise, but we wanted to find an activity that we could all do together. Taekwondo was the answer,” Gary Williams said. “We began our training and just fell in love with the martial art,” Lynn Williams said. In the years to come, little did the Williams know they were going to be owners of their very own school. They went up the ranks, having no thought of becoming school owners, but when the Williams were presented with the opportunity to buy the studio, they knew it was the chance to change lives. They saw the physical and mental strength it brought to their son and wanted to share this with everyone.
With this mission in mind, the Williams have created an accessible and affordable studio for students of all levels to learn a valuable life skill.
“Taekwondo not only provides a physical aspect of working out, but you are also learning a skill in which you can protect yourself. You are learning to set goals both physically and mentally, learning how to push yourself farther than you thought you could and learning how to overcome setbacks,” Gary Williams said.
But even with such strong opinions regarding the importance of martial arts today, Lynn and Gary Williams both agree that it is seeing their students believe in themselves and gain confidence in their everyday teaching life that makes what they do so enjoyable and gratifying.
Like any other student, Lynn and Gary Williams have had their own share of obstacles in their Taekwondo journey which they conquered by believing in themselves and in each other. “Forms was the hardest for me because I always struggled with memorization and sequencing. Also the pressure of testing as I would forget what move came next because I was thinking too much. I have had to learn to relax and rely on my muscle memory,” Gary Williams said.
On the other hand, Lynn Williams faced the struggle of board breaks and injuries, specifically not passing her fourth-degree black belt testing and a broken ankle before her sixth-degree testing, respectively. “It was terrible… just terrible and the recovery was hard. I started thinking that fifth degree was good enough,” Lynn Williams said. She was inspired and motivated by her instructors to persevere and test for her sixth-degree black belt. Lynn Williams’ compassion for her students stems from her personal experiences through her Taekwondo journey that has made her story unique.
Always strong supporters of individuality, Lynn and Gary Williams believe that it’s important for students to not feel discouraged but rather empowered by their differences. “I would say the most important advice I can give to students is to have integrity. Staying true to who you is what matters. People who are valued are people who have good character,” Gary Williams said. “We love the goal setting and the exercise involved, but it is more the people... touching lives. Taekwondo has a life-changing impact on our students, and it is something Gary and I can do together, to share what our hearts believe in,” Lynn Williams said.