Local youths find discipline in martial arts
Two Tonganoxie youths have found success and a better way of life through dedication to the martial arts.
Jake McGhee, 14, and Shannon Theno, 16, both have traveled to and been successful in area martial arts tournaments.
McGhee, son of Dan McGhee, Overland Park, and Shelly McGhee, Tonganoxie, took second in fighting and third in forms at the Tornado Internationals May 26 in Kansas City. He is a junior black belt in American Kenpo Karate.
Theno, daughter of Cheryl and Alan Theno, Tonganoxie, took first place in fighting and second place in forms at the Traditional Tae Kwon Do Championships April 29 in Topeka.
She is a black belt and the national women's middleweight champion. She took the title in October at the national contest at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Theno has also qualified for the Junior Olympics four years in a row.
Even though the two study different brands of martial arts Tae Kwon Do relies heavily on foot-fighting they have learned many of the same lessons: Lessons that have enriched their lives.
"It really focuses me," Theno said. "I set goals, and to reach those goals takes a lot of discipline."
To reach the championship level did take a lot of dedication for Theno: Her entire life, to be exact.
Her father taught her how to box at the age of 2. She started Tae Kwon Do when she was 9. She's been competing in tournaments ever since.
A year before winning her national title, Theno turned her life-long discipline up a notch.
"I'd been training for months and months. I'd get up early in the morning, train, and then go to school," She said. "And I worked out the whole week even weekends."
And she reached one of her goals through discipline.
For McGhee, transferring the discipline he learned in Karate has helped him find success in other areas.
McGhee, who has competed in the sport for seven years, is a straight-A student and has also found success in basketball and football.
He credited skills he learned in martial arts for much of that success.
"It takes a good mental outlook and a lot of discipline," McGhee said. "It gives you a good mental outlook and a lot of discipline. It gives you a good overall knowledge of things you can apply to everything you do, like listening skills and discipline."
For both youths, the martial arts are family pastimes. Theno's mother and brother, Dylan, are both martial artists as is McGhee's father.
McGhee said he would compete next in Nevada's Las Vegas International. Theno said her next competition will be in October to defend her title.