Breaking barriers, not just boards: A Colorado Springs martial artist is going for something new

A local Taekwondo athlete is doing something not yet seen in her team’s history.
A COS athlete is breaking barriers at the local U.S. Taekwondo Center
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 9:22 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Like most magical stories, 23-year-old Courtney Veazy’s started as a coincidence.

When she was a teenager, she and her family members tried out Taekwondo, a type of Korean martial art and the East Asian country’s national sport.

She since fell in love with the sport and began competing too, winning the bronze in 2019 at her first big national competition, and the gold in 2021 with her team.

Now, this young athlete may soon be the first of an impressive title on her team.

Veazy is the lead instructor at the U.S. Taekwondo Center, Stetson Hills location. No female student here has yet gone for a fourth degree black belt.

Veazy is training to turn the tides. Getting a fourth degree black belt will give her the title of “master.”

Taekwondo athletes start at the white belt then go through the colors of the rainbow as they advance in skills. They can then go for the nine black belt levels, also called “dan.” Each can take years to achieve.

Veazy got her first black belt when she was 15 and is currently at the third degree.

“By this point, I know probably around 40 different forms that you have to be able to just recall from memory,” Veazy explained. “I still have to be versed in sparring techniques, and you have to go against different opponents. You have to be very strong on all your basics.”

You can have different specialties within Taekwondo, including Gyo Ru Gi -- or sparring -- Poomse -- or forms -- as well as board breaking.

In traditional forms, Veazy ranks 12th in the nation, while she’s fifth in freestyle. Her specialty, though, is “demonstration.”

“[It’s] where we do a combination of Poomse, self defense, and board breaking all to music and with a storyline Incorporated, so it’s really big performance,” Veazy explained. “I love that we can choreograph and make new fun creative things and just have a good time doing it. It’s still competition.”

Veazy says belt tests are typically very intense, requiring 200 push ups and sit ups, basic forms and sparring and for the fourth degree, breaking a concrete block with one’s hands.

But there’s also another side to Veazy: Instructor Courtney.

She’s been teaching others since she was 15 and now works with students as young as three up to 80 years old, six times a week.

“We all live very different lives. When we’re here, we’re a family, and we’re all trying to reach the same goal of being better martial artists and better people,” she said.

Veazy tells 11 News that Taekwondo holds a special place in her heart, since it’s impacted her life beyond sports too.

For instance, she’s gotten to engage deeply with Korean culture, often because the sport incorporates basic Korean terminology and etiquette, such as bowing to show respect.

“It’s just so great in my mind that it’s something that everybody can do at whatever level they’re comfortable with,” Veazy went on. “And it’s just something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. And I can’t say that about many other sports.”

The sport is so a part of her now she’ll sometimes bow inside a Starbucks!