Coal under pressure creates diamonds
If you have ever wondered how dedication to the martial arts principles of discipline, respect and courage could benefit you or your children in the long term, you need look no further than the sparkling example set by Taekwondo Central Head Instructor Ajana Plunkett…
This is a rare chance to hear her story, learn more about her taekwondo journey. It’s not an opportunity that comes along often because despite having accomplished so much, Ajana conducts herself with quiet confidence and humility.
She leads without the need – or desire – to command the spotlight. So buckle yourself in because once you learn more about Master Justin Warren’s Apprentice – our Ajana – your appreciation for all that she brings to her Club and to the character of her students will soar.
At just 19, Ajana is a 4th Dan Black Belt. She has competed on the international taekwondo stage several times, winning two gold and two bronze medals plus five national championships where she won two gold, two silvers and a bronze medal. In a week, Ajana trains around 200 students in group classes and some in private lessons, and regularly sits (often as the youngest member) on Black Belt grading panels.
Between training and class
es, she has managed to complete TAFE studies in community services and disability and is also underway with studies in youth work and business.
Yes! That’s right….only 19!
Ajana’s taekwondo journey began at age 6 after Master Justin Warren visited her River Valley Primary School to present a talk on personal safety. Inspired, she joined his Burekup class with a few friends, and from that moment the spark was ignited. She set her dark eyes on a Black Belt goal and pity the obstacle that dared get in her way.
As a yellow belt Ajana started entering tournaments and by 10 years she had earned that Black Belt. She trained up to six times-a-week and admits to living and breathing all things taekwondo. She joined Central’s Leadership Team and even at this early age, had the confidence to lead a warm-up with Master Justin watching on.
As her natural abilities combined with her dedication to training blossomed, she began climbing the competitive ranks, travelling to the eastern states and then overseas to Korea and Malaysia.
Money she saved working as a Club helper paid for her first flight to Korea but couldn’t cover the added costs of her mum coming too. During those overseas trips, Master Justin was both her coach and guardian. Not yet even in her teens, in a foreign country without her mum and competing in front of noisy crowds – a daunting experience to say the least! Still, Ajana found vast reserves of inner strength to not only compete, but win gold.
“You should never doubt what your body can do. But be patient with it because real progress takes time” – Ajana Plunkett
Ask her about it now and with a tiny grin she’ll shyly admit it was at that point in Korea, she started to think she might be pretty good at this whole taekwondo caper! From there, Ajana’s confidence grew and more titles were won. At her last State-level competition, Ajana recalls her fight being called off because she was so far ahead on points, her competitor was left with no chance of winning.
By now she was 14 and her body was tired. Ajana’s competitive career came to an end and she instead began to concentrate on further studies, a more moderate level of training and teaching. When you add them all up, Ajana’s achievements alone are impressive enough. But when you also consider them in light of the obstacles she has overcome in her life to arrive where she stands today, you REALLY begin to appreciate the truly remarkable young woman she is.
Raised by her mum and an extended family, Ajana was born with problematic hip joints and suffered very early with chronic hip, back and leg issues that required ongoing therapy to manage. The strength and flexibility she later developed through her elite-level training almost certainly contributed to her full recovery. Thankfully, she was simply too strong in the fighting ring to suffer much injury through her taekwondo though she has come across some later.
Still, you won’t hear her complaining! Ajana just carries on with that same beaming smile and positive attitude. She says you should never doubt what your body can do. But be patient with it because real progress takes time. A perfectionist by nature, her taekwondo journey has created a person who understands that perfection is unattainable but chasing it in all you do, DOES develop excellence.
Ajana’s drive to achieve seems utterly limitless but it’s tempered by a deep care for others, which shines through in the devotion she shows to her teaching role.
In the blink of an eye Ajana can fire off a long list of goals for the future – reaching 5th Dan Black Belt, travel, small business ventures with her partner and a career in social work. Maybe goal-setting was a skill she developed early while working her way through the taekwondo belt system?
In any case, her list of goals now might sound like a lot to pack into the next few years. But with everything you have come to learn about Ajana, you’re left in no doubt that whatever Ajana sets her mind to…
Ajana WILL ACHIEVE.