Blake Longshore started attending taekwondo classes when he was 8 years old because he was being bullied at school. Martial arts gave him a space to make friends, and it boosted his self-esteem as he was trying to understand who he was as a person.
Now Longshore is an instructor at Ramos Taekwondo Academy and is helping others to build their confidence.
“I had no friends; I had ADHD. Over the course of five years, I battled with bullies and went through family issues,” said Longshore.
In time, he learned to defend himself both emotionally and physically, and he decided he wanted to share his skills and stories with his students.
While attending college, he was offered a full-time position as an instructor at Ramos Taekwondo Academy, and he jumped at the chance.
“It led me to be invested in character development for myself and for other people. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t learn something,” he said.
Many opportunities have arisen for the third-degree blackbelt over the past two years, as the school has made changes to accommodate COVID protocols.
“Things changed a lot. When the pandemic hit, that first weekend, I broke my leg. That impacted the route we had to take. I had to teach private lessons,” he said.
To date, he has taught 791 private 15-minute sessions on Zoom to students in Cherokee County while the school closed its doors to group sessions. But for Longshore and school owner Denisse Ramos, it was not enough to teach one-on-one, whether online or at the school, because some students were not in a position to learn that way.
“When we opened our dojo, we had students who didn’t want to go back. To comfort the parents, we continued the Zoom classes, and we started gong to students' houses. There are still people who we go to their houses,” said Longshore.
He explained that even though launching classes on Zoom and making house visits was difficult, for him, it has been worth it, because it helps the students understand they are a part of a community.
“We teach not to give up, so we don’t want to give up. When life hits, we need to continue,” said Longshore. “I have learned that sometimes, there are a lot of kids that don’t get social interaction, except for when they come to taekwondo. We wanted them to know they are still on the team, even if they aren’t there in person. We send out we miss you packets so they feel they are welcome.”
He is thankful for the community he serves, and those who have helped him along his journey – especially Ramos and Paula Thompson.