Terrence Jennings is a former London 2012 Olympics Bronze medalist. He is a coach in the World Class Athlete Program, an initiative of the US army that helps athletes to focus on training and represent the United States at international competition.
He started to compete very young and make it to the Youth United States National Team.
He is very passionate for the sport, he shares with us some important moments of his career and how he still enjoys training, coaching and watching videos to learn.
He has learned from amazing taekwondo masters and coaches like Patrice Remarck and Juan Moreno, in the interview he talked about them and how they helped him to grow in taekwondo.
Every taekwondo journey starts with the first class
Terrence Jennings was a very active kid. So, when he saw an ad of a new local martial arts school showing a ninja turtle he was immediately attracted to the sport. And since the first class he loved all the flashy movements of taekwondo.
He loved playing different sports, like football, basketball and soccer. But he mentions that in team sports there are always things that you can’t control because you depend on others.
Just one chance to break the board
Terrence’s first instructor was very strict. When you were at a belt testing and you had to break a board you only had one chance.
Terrence remembers a class partner who in his belt test failed to break the board. Everybody thought that he would have another chance, but no, the instructor made him to wait three months more to do the test again and reattempt to break the board.
Terrence reflects that sometimes you don’t have a second chance. And you have to do your best when you have the chance.
Terrence remembers that at first his school was more focused on point sparring.
In one of his first competitions he was disqualified for excess of contact, although he was a child he felt disappointed. He thought that maybe that was not the right activity for him.
After a while the school started to focus more on Olympic taekwondo and that’s how Terrence was introduced in what later would be his way of life.
Terrence’s first competition was when he was a green belt. His parents drove him one hour to the place of the tournament in Maryland.
As in many children tournaments he remembers that the only thing he did was kicking.
He went to the middle of the ring and when the fight started it was just one minute of continuous kicking by both sides.
No checking or feints, not moving, just kicking until the coach told him to stop.
Terrence recommends “Faster, Higher, Stronger” you can buy it on the link.
Making a team
Early in his career he met Coach Patrice Remarck, a two time World Medalist from Ivory Coast who was studying at the University in Washington DC and started to coach in Terrence’s academy Olympic style taekwondo.
None of the students really know what exactly was Olympic taekwondo, they just followed the instructions of Mr Remarck.
One of the strategies that coach Remarck did was to bring the team atmosphere into the dojang. With warm ups, uniforms and behaviour that gives the children that sense of being part of something bigger.
Coach Remarck was very strict about earning the right to use a National Team uniform. You could not just put the USA letters in your uniform because you were not allowed to train with that dobok unless you were already a national team member.
That is a great motivation. I think if you receive those kinds of rewards early in your career you can lost that hunger of going for more.
Under coach Remarck guidance Terrence’s career started to go upwards, he made it to the Junior National Team and started to compete internationally.
Before ranking tournaments coach Remarck encouraged his athletes to go to international events like the French or Belgium opens in order to gain experience from fighting the best athletes in other countries.
A hard decision and the London 2012 Olympic Games
An interesting point of the interview was the decision of changing his training place pursuing his dreams.
Having an elite coach was a blessing for Terrence’s. It allowed him to compete internationally and to be one of the top athletes of the USA.
But in order to pursue his dream of going to the London Olympics and to win a medal he had to make some difficult decisions.
In a combat sport at an elite level you also need to train with partners that challenge you all the time. That was why he moved to Miami to train at Peak Performance with Coach Juan Moreno who had one of the best teams in the country.
Coach Moreno even found him a job to help him to afford his stay in Miami. So he worked at a warehouse starting at 6am and then he just moved to train, every day.
But hard work pays off. Under Master Moreno’s guidance Terrence won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
The complete story on the interview.
On the interview Terrence talked with us also about:
- How was his preparation for the London 2012 Olympics?
- What to do when referees are unfairly penalizing you?
- How to fight against weight cutting?
- How does the US Army World Class Athlete Program work?