Meijer State Games of Michigan Athlete Spotlight:

Darren James, Tae Kwon Do

by: Kenneth DeGraaf

Darren James got into martial arts during his early teens while successfully boxing his way through school, following right in his fathers footsteps. At the time, Darren lived in England, but moved to America 17 years ago where he would start his family. This included stints in both Ionia and Lowell, Michigan. He has four kids; Kyle (10), Elliana (12), Callum (8), and Lydia (3.) He introduced all of them to TaeKwonDo at an early age. Darren’s reasons for introducing his kids to the martial arts include, “understanding and appreciation for the art, as well as learning discipline and respect for both themselves and others.” Win or lose, Darren hoped his kids would learn that as long as you try your best you are both winning and learning at the same time.
While Darren’s father got him started in the sport, he eventually took time off. In fact, an unexpected person got him back into training. “My Dad was my inspiration to self-defense, he always wanted me to be able to look after myself,” Darren explained. “My Son, Kyle, after a year in TaeKwonDo, held me to my promise to begin training again.” This is where the family tradition for the James family started, but it has only grown from there. 
Elliana and Callum would join the family as well in the spiritual art of TaeKwonDo. Last year, Darren’s son Kyle graduated to 1st Degree, making him one of the youngest black belts in their institute. Darren’s daughter, Elliana, and his son, 
Callum, are also on pace to graduate to 1st degree within the next 18 months. Callum will only be 9 years old at that time. Even Darren's youngest, 3-year old Lydia, already loves watching her family in classes and tournaments.  Master Ramos, from the family’s institute, had the following to say about Darren and his family, “Darren James attends classes, tournaments, seminars, and organizational promotion testing’s regularly. He is usually the first to register for tournaments. The loyalty demonstrated to the Ramos Institute and Tae Park Taekwondo is an exemplary example for his family and other students.”
When asked about his interest in participating in the Meijer State Games, Darren responded, “It’s the fourth year for our family. Kyle won a gold 3 years ago at the age of 7, and now we have four of us competing as a family. The Michigan State Games is a wonderful experience. From the Opening Ceremonies on Friday through the tournament on Saturday, it’s a great event for all contenders in all sports.”
This year, Darren hopes to see fair play and good effort from all four family members regardless of the end result. By doing the best they can through positive sportsmanship, Darren is confident his family will positively promote and encourage their associations of Chung Do Kwon, Traditional Taekwondo, the Ramos Institute, Grand Master Tae Zee Park, and Tae Park TaeKwonDo.
Throughout their 4 years of participation in the State Games, the James family has collected their fair share of medals. Kyle has earned 8 medals, 7 of them gold, over the course of 7 tournaments. Callum and Elliana achieved a gold and silver medal last year in their first swing at the State Games. Finally, Darren has won 3 golds, 2 silvers, and 1 bronze throughout his State Games career. The families’ medals come from each of the three main events in Taekwondo competition, which are board breaking, form, and sparring.
Despite their success, the goal of the James family has never been to win, but rather to give your all in a positive and healthy manner. As you can see, it is not a bad philosophy to go by. 
Interested in Tae Kwon Do?
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.
In August 2017, the Meijer State Games of Michigan will play host to the
2017 State Games of America.
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