News: HR Admin builds character through technique
Story by Senior Airman Chelsea Smith
MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, N.J. - Balancing a healthy work –life schedule is a familiar challenge for any reservist, air reserve technician or civilian employee. In turn, off duty hours are precious moments when we are obliged to occupy our time however one chooses.
For Tanya Jones, 514th Air Mobility Wing human resources technician, this time is spent in the competitive martial arts world as an instructor of Nisei Goju Ryu and Chinese Goju, where she holds a line of accolades and accomplishments both locally and internationally.
For more than 43 years, Jones has dedicated countless hours to studying Nisei Goju Ryu, the second generation of a traditional form of Okinawan Japanese martial arts; and Chinese Goju, a unification of Japanese and Chinese style Goju Ryu. She has competed in local and international tournaments but spends most of her time teaching martial arts to more than 50 students at classes in Philadelphia, Pa., Pemberton and Camden, N.J.
Currently holding a sixth degree and seventh degree black belt in Nisei Goju Ryu and Chinese Goju, respectively, Jones is the highest ranking woman in the tri-state area. She is only three degrees shy of the highest rank in the hierarchy of mastery, she said.
Jones has earned the title of Kyoshi, meaning an instructor of masters, but still remains a student, perfecting her craft by regularly taking classes under her instructor Hanshi A.D. Lingo, she said.
“The title isn’t based solely on your mastery of skills,” she said. “It encompasses everything about you. I engage in the community, conduct seminars for the elderly, and continuously train with other black belts and those of higher ranks. I also have success stories with my students and respect amongst my fellow instructors.”
At 11 years old she was introduced to the martial arts world when she wandered into a karate school in her hometown of New Haven, Conn. There, she inspired by a female black belt performer. Five years later, she would achieve the same belt.
She continued her training in both art forms while conforming to a transitory lifestyle as the wife of a now retired active-duty service member. Her military travels allowed her to meet world-renown instructors and adapt her teaching style based on her experiences, she said.
The constant moving also propelled her career to international status – having been recognized in countries such as Japan and Panama for her work.
“I’m an anomaly,” she said. “I’m accommodated and treated with such respect because you don’t see many women who’ve reached my rank. There’s a great disparity between women and men in the top tiers of martial artistry, but I’m glad I’m able to break some of those barriers.”
As an instructor, she demands high standards of academic performance from her students and works diligently to instill and exemplify virtuous character traits as a means of all-encompassing success. For example, unsatisfactory report cards can hinder a student’s rate of promotion, she said.
“I teach students how to empower themselves,” she said. “It builds your character. Positive energy is projected onto other people and they feel your energy. I want people to feel my positive energy. I want my students to excel and get involved in school. I want them to help other students with bullying. My goal is that when you leave me you’ve learned at least two things that are going to save your life.”
She encourages her students to be lifelong learners but also learn to teach and share their talents and expertise to other students—an ideal she has exemplified throughout her career.
“I can’t be a good instructor if I don’t continue to be taught,” she said. “My cup is always half-full – new information has to be constantly flowing in so I can filter out information.”
If not handling paperwork for reservists or demonstrating breathing techniques to her students, she sharpens her ability to speak and write fluently in Arabic, Spanish and Japanese language, she said.
“My world is huge outside of this installation,” she proclaimed. “I’m a wife, mother, instructor, student, healer, linguist, and the list goes on. But I love what I do here, too.”
Invigorated by her future possibilities, she embraces her midlife transition and said she vows to continue teaching and studying Nisei Goju Ryu and Chinese Goju until her body can no longer sustain the physicality of the movements.
Consequently, her studies have expanded to incorporate Qigong, a healing art that focuses on aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation, to her collection of talents, she said.
“If I’m in a nursing home, I’m going to be teaching them cleansing spirit and mind,” she said. “I’ll be doing this until the Lord is done with me because I don’t belong to myself, I belong to everyone else and I will continue to be used as a vessel for others.”