Tonganoxie 6-year-old hits mark with national tae kwon do wins
At 6 years old, Jordan Boudreaux-Lesher is fairly new to reading and writing.
But three little words have been ingrained in Jordan's brain for the last two years ? tae kwon do.
A first-grader at Tonganoxie Elementary School, Jordan already has gotten involved with the sport alongside his mother, Julie Lesher.
Julie took second in last year's state tae kwon do tournament after tearing ligaments in her ankle during competition. Jordan, meanwhile, took first in form and second in sparring at the same tournament.
About two years ago, Julie and Jordan started training through Rex Hutton's tae kwon do academy in Tonganoxie. Julie, who is 35, actually started training with Hutton when she was 17. After about three years, though, she went into the military. About a year and a half ago, after working in the school district for a few years, Julie decided to attend school full-time for a nursing degree through Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Julie and stepdaughter Becky Lesher also have competed in tae kwon do. When Julie started going to college full-time, she stopped her tae kwon do training. She is still active in watching Jordan's tournaments, but now her husband, Keith, has gotten into the act ? alongside Jordan.
"The family who stays together, plays together," Julie said.
The family member enjoying the most success playing would have to be Jordan.
The youngest Lesher has competed in four tournaments and garnered eight trophies. He acquired his biggest hardware Oct. 12 in the National Tae Kwon Do Tournament at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Jordan was a national champion in both sparring and form.
"It felt good," Jordan said.
Jordan's success has come with the guidance of his entire family.
While Julie and Becky started attending school full-time, Keith and Jordan began working with the White Tiger Academy in Bonner Springs. In many instances, 6?year-old Jordan has been mentor to 38-year-old father Keith.
"He's been a real help with that as far as teaching me proper techniques," something else when it comes to this.
"He gets real excited when he teaches me something. I can just see the enthusiasm in his eyes to show Dad something."
And sometimes, the soft-spoken Jordan enjoys being the boss when it comes to Dad along with getting in a few laughs at the beginner's expense.
"You like telling him what to do," Julie said to Jordan.
But with some extra work, Keith is getting the hang of things. Basically, tightening up your belt takes on another meaning for the Lesher family.
At white belt, Keith is in the beginner's category, while Jordan is a green belt working toward a blue belt. Julie is a yellow-tip green belt, while Becky also is a green belt.
Later today, Jordan will start testing for a high green belt in front of five black belts from Chin Lee's academy based in Topeka. His main testing for the belt will be Nov. 22.
Each testing costs $40, although students don't receive the next affiliation just because of the fee, Julie said. Jordan, however, has passed in his first attempt during each testing so far
The various belt levels involve random Hapkito movements and forms that the students must be able to score high enough in.
"That's a lot to remember for a 6-year-old," Julie said. "I had a tough time remembering myself as an adult.
Both Julie and Jordan will be competing next March in the state tournament, once again in Wichita. If Jordan takes first in either sparring or form, he'll qualify for the Junior Olympics in Florida. That would spur the family to participate in more quality time in that instance, they would be raising funds next summer for Jordan's trip to the Junior Olympic trials next fall.
Involvement in athletics isn't a novice concept for the Leshers. Jordan also plays baseball and wants to compete in youth football and soccer next year. While in junior high and high school, Keith competed in football and basketball at Schlagle High in Kansas City, Kan.
In the family's recreation room where Jordan spends many hours, toys, posters and trophies can be found. Michael Jordan posters adorn the walls, while trophies are clearly displayed on a shelf. As for the toys, they're usually neatly put away, something Keith credits to tae kwon do.
"It's been real rewarding because it's not something I have to keep on him about," Keith said. "He's so excited about doing tae kwon do.
"He's real disciplined with school work and helping mom. It's been a huge difference since he's been in this a couple years."
The training also has been beneficial to Keith. With the entire family involved, it's been great exercise, as it provides strong cardiovascular work, Keith said.
Working out three days per week, tae kwon do has given Keith more energy.
"I think it helps all the way around as far as building your mind and body," Keith said
That will come in handy when trying to keep up with a 6-year-old who also happens to be a national champion. Keith said. "He's just been