Dancing in church, teaching himself tumbling, and watching Jackie Chan and the Power Rangers prepared Will Coneys well for his martial arts career, which began at age 15 with Master Emerson at a local Tae Kwon Do school. Martial arts, and in particular tricking, immediately gave will a sense of belonging and a way to find balance in his life. Once he had earned his black belt, Will began teaching classes as well. He’s now been teaching at EvolveAll for the past four years. Will has earned an international reputation for his tricking abilities, has won multiple competitions, and has demonstrated his airborne athletic skills on television.
“One of the hardest challenges for me in learning martial arts was how to be in control and be more patient,” Will explained. “I wanted to move up quickly, but as I got deeper into it, I understood I had to be patient with myself and take the time to learn the techniques.”
“Martial arts has given me good balance in other aspects of my life off the mat. I was not a calm child, I was an angry child. Doing martial arts, especially doing demonstrations, taught me to be calm and how to feel more comfortable talking to people. I’m still shy but I’m more outgoing than I was before I started martial arts. I’ve learned to control how I act and how I want to be seen.”
Will credits his mom—who has worked in child care Will’s whole life—with his own affinity for teaching kids. “I’ve watched her and how she handles her children, and I watched my grandmother, who worked in the nursery at church, and follow their examples.”
Will appreciates the role that EvolveAll plays in the community. “EvolveAll does the same thing for our students that my tae kwon do school did for me—it gives them a safe place to be. Kids who are shy can be more open and grow and make friends. Kids who are angry or don’t want to listen can learn how to control that. Martial arts helps kids to see that there are other ways to be than following the crowd.”
“I’ve seen kids go from not taking it very seriously to really focusing and learning the moves. I see them become quicker, calmer, and stronger—physically and mentally. It’s beautiful to see that kind of change. And ultimately we are fighters. When we spar, we’re sparring with all we’ve got. If you’re young it can be a little scary and disappointing. But I also feel like it teaches you how to be ok with that. This technique didn’t work, maybe if I rework it and I’ll train and try again.”
“What martial arts offers families is a sense of balance. With other sports there’s always that big competition to win. That does sometimes happen with martial arts, but primarily it teaches you to be patient and take your time.”