Kicking Up A Storm


She meets her opponent’s gaze with a fierce look in her eyes. She slides into her fighting stance: right leg back, hands at the ready, curled softly into fists. At the referee’s command, the girl lets out a yell and begins sparring. Within seconds, she lands her first point on her opponent: a swift kick to the head. As the match continues, the girl effortlessly scores points for her powerful kicks. After the fight, the scoreboard reads 13-0. Junior Brooklynn Guthery is a first-degree black belt who has been training and competing in Taekwondo for more than 10 years.

“I like Taekwondo because not a lot of people realize how hard it is,” Brooklynn said. “The work I put in and what I get in return for putting in that work is a really big pay off. I get strength, confidence, discipline, the ability to defend myself and being a leader out of [doing] Taekwondo.”

Brooklynn began practicing Taekwondo at the Houston Center for Taekwondo in February 2008 when she noticed a new school opening next door to her family’s favorite Mexican restaurant.

“She wanted to take a peek inside on the way out,” Brooklynn’s dad, Jim Guthery said. “I saw the excitement in her eyes, and she asked if she could try it for her birthday present. I could not say no, even though her mom was not on board, I sure was.”

The year before she began her journey in martial arts, however, Brooklynn was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

“She was in a diabetic coma before we realized something was seriously wrong,” Jim said. “Taekwondo gave her a way out of feeling different, feeling left out, feeling judged by everyone since being diagnosed. It made her feel equal, strong, happy, confident, free and in control for the first time since diagnosis.”

According to Brooklynn, her dad is her “main supporter.”

“He travels with me, he’s always there, we talk about fighting all the time, and we watch fights together,” Brooklynn said. “My dad tells me before every tournament that I’m the best of the best and I’ve come so far, and that I’ve done so much and put so much time [into Taekwondo].”

Brooklynn does a total of 11 hours of Taekwondo each week. She devotes four days of the week training at the Houston Center for Taekwondo, and the other three days at the gym.

“All the time I’ve put in, I don’t want to quit,” Brooklynn said. “I’ve done it before, and I absolutely regretted it. I quit for three months, saw my friends boxing and said, “I have to get back into it.””

Jim said he is proud of Brooklynn doing Taekwondo because “she is the most intelligent, strongest young woman I know.”

“That is my baby girl, doing amazing things and not letting anything control her or conquer her,” Jim said. “She is loyal by default and has integrity. She holds herself accountable for her actions and will hold her friends and family accountable for theirs as well.”

Throughout the time Brooklynn has been doing Taekwondo, one of the things she found inspiration in was from her uncle telling her sister and her to “believe.” She even wears the word on a headband beneath her sparring gear during tournaments.

“It’s a big thing in our household: belief,” Brooklynn said. “I had an uncle who passed away five years ago. He’d shave at the beginning of the year and grow his beard out at the end of the year and dress up as Santa. He’d always tell my sister and me to believe, and it’s become a big thing in our lives.”

Brooklynn competes in the Athletic Amateur Union (AAU) Taekwondo National Championship every July. She has placed first in her division for the past two years, and won the championship in 2017.

“Every summer she goes to nationals, and I go with her every time,” junior Madeline Broadway said. “It makes me more excited that I get to see her fight because she works all summer, two hours a day, everyday to achieve first place gold two years in a row.”

According to Broadway, Brooklynn’s dedication to Taekwondo distinguishes her from her opponents.

“For doing a sport that’s not acknowledged, she’s always made it prominent that she’s proud of what she does,” Broadway said. “She’s always going to represent her team, her teammates and her love for Taekwondo. Even though there have been times when she wanted to quit, and times that have made her reconsider what she was doing, she still pushed through that feeling because she knew deep down that that’s what she really needed and wanted to do.”

In December of 2017, Brooklynn flew to Fort Lauderdale, FL for the AAU Taekwondo Team Trials. At the event, she competed against two other girls for a spot on the AAU Taekwondo National Team.

“She fights to win, she does not fight to score a point,” Jim said. “She knows if she fights to win, the points will come. She imposes her will on her opponent. She will hunt them down and corner them, and can be relentless if they fight dirty. She is an exciting fighter to watch because of this. People love to watch her fight, and she will draw a crowd. She has many coaches and spectators come to her and compliment her on her fighting. She is a well-respected fighter and others in her division know exactly who she is. You don’t just have a Taekwondo warrior, you have someone with an autoimmune disease that will not let Type 1 Diabetes beat her or define her. If anything, Type 1 Diabetes has made her stronger than ever.”

After two sparring matches, Brooklynn emerged victorious as the new member of the AAU National Team. Being a member of the national team will further her passion for Taekwondo and her dedication and confidence, according to Brooklynn.

“I felt accomplished,” Brooklynn said. “Like I had finally achieved what I have been working so hard and long for. The first thing I did was run to my dad and cry tears of happiness. It’s the official start of my career. I get to travel more and compete more and meet new people and go to new places.”