Home About Podcast Services Our Promise Schedule A Confidence Breakthrough Download Free Ebook

Lessons From Taekwondo

With Sabrina Sorokorensky

Published on: Feb 15, 2019

Listening to the experiences of the new generation of Asian-American women, we have the youngest guest ever, Sabrina Sorokorensky. She is a 12th-grade Taekwondo athlete whose parents are immigrants from Ukraine and Malaysia. She talks to us about her life in America and how she finds the many cultural differences between here and Malaysia – from her school life to working at In-N-Out Burger. Sharing with us what she learned from Taekwondo, Sabrina imparts great wisdom about respect, being different, as well as going out of your comfort zone. She also addresses the differences between generations and asks people to be more patient.

Lessons From Taekwondo with Sabrina Sorokorensky

In this new season, we will change a few things. There will be more Asian men on the show and sometimes there will be non-Asian men or non-Asian women whose lives were impacted by the Asian culture. Occasionally, there will be guests who are under 21 years old, plus there will be videos for these interviews so that you can visually connect to the guests. We hope that you like these changes. If you have any suggestion, please let us know.

I have the youngest guest on my show to date. She’s eighteen years old, beautiful, smart and very athletic. She did something that I thought was amazing and that’s why I invited her to be on this show. I’d like to introduce Sabrina Sorokorensky. Sabrina is in twelfth grade. Her parents are also immigrants from Ukraine and Malaysia. What’s special about Sabrina is that she excels in Taekwondo, a martial arts sport that not many females are interested in. Sabrina received her black belt in less than four years. As of now, she won six awards from competitions within the United States and outside of the United States since 2017.

I like to read one review from our audience, Heart-Based Connection by Zmanplan. “I’ve read a lot of business podcasts. This is the first time I’ve gone to my niche and dove into my cultural background, Asian. It’s a lot more than I expected. It goes into the realm of heart-based connection and into the realm of being divinely guided, culturally aware and open to your greatness. Good stuff.” Thank you, Zmanplan, for your nice review. I’m glad you feel that way. Please keep reading and sharing this podcast. We appreciate your support.

Sabrina, welcome to the Asian Women of Power podcast. You are the youngest guest on my show so far. I hope that you will set a high standard for future guests. Let’s now talk about the accomplishment in Taekwondo, your favorite subject. Tell us how did you get exposed to this sport?

I got exposed to Taekwondo through this camp that I attended starting maybe fifth or seventh grade. One of the years, there was my coach, he was teaching the students at my camp. He saw me and he was like, “I saw you last year, do you remember me?” I was like, “Yes.” He was like, “You should come and try my studio out.” At first, I didn’t want to but my counselor at the time was like, “I’ll take you. It sounds like a fun time.” She was into kickboxing so she wanted to go. She and I went to an open floor day, which is a day where it’s not a training day. It’s where everybody goes to work out, but there’s no class that day. I had a good time and ever since then, I’ve been doing Taekwondo.

Quickly share with us what Taekwondo is and what is the philosophy behind this sport?

Taekwondo basically a game where two opponents of blue and red go against each other. It’s two points to the body and three points to the head and you get more points if it’s a spinning kick or stuff like that. Each round is a minute and a half to two minutes long and there are normally three rounds. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. I’m not sure what the philosophy is.

Taekwondo: Taekwondo is showing respects to your master as well as to your opponent.

Do you know Judo? Judo’s philosophy is to defend yourself. Some other martial art is more aggressive, attacking rather than defending yourself. 

Taekwondo is more respect your elders. Respect for your masters, the masters of the masters. If your master is a fourth-degree black belt, the grandmasters are the people that are seventh-degree black belts. There’s a lot of respect towards them and there’s also a lot of respect to your opponent.


I’m giving you this scenario. Let’s say if you see in school one kid bullies the other one. What would you do?

I don’t think I’d be violent towards that. It’s not the person who I am. I’d probably go over there and see what was going on and talk. If the person who’s getting bullied, I’d say, “It’s enough. Come with me, we’ll be friends. You don’t have to be with this person.”

What if the bully tried to attack the other kid and then you get involved and they’re going to attack you too, they’re going to beat you up? 

I’ll defend myself.

Basically, Taekwondo is using the fist and the kick, most of the time?

Punching is allowed. In the modern style of fighting, it’s getting used more often. Definitely within my own team and also other people who are winning gold medals are scoring more punches. I’d say it’s about 80% kick, 20% punch kind of fight.

Did you poke at their eyes? Yes or no?

No, that’s not allowed.

Only the fist? 

Yeah, only to the chest.

Taekwondo: Every generation is different from the next generation.

You never punched them on the ear or the face, right?

No. You could get a penalty.

You have been doing this sport for about four years and you have just obtained the black belt. Congratulations. What did it take for you to get a black belt in four years’ time?

This is my second year fighting as a black belt. This summer will be my third. The first year I was doing Taekwondo, we would go to different scrimmages. I’d fight these people. My coach told me, “I think you’re ready to fight black belts. I won’t be able to administer the test. We need a different coach for that, but I’ll give you a black belt and you can fight black belts.” After a year I began fighting black belt, but normally there would be a big, long test, a strength test and the mental test and a written essay. I officially got my black belt certification. We trained all day. We came in maybe around 10:00 and we weren’t finished until a couple hours later. We were sparring, we were fighting each other and we wrote an essay and you had to present it to the class. It was a lot of hard work for everyone.

Will someone with a black belt level be able to defeat all the people at the lower levels no matter what the other person’s size is?

Not necessarily. Size plays a big part in Taekwondo. For example, if you have somebody who is 200 pounds and you have somebody who is 100 pounds, but the person that is 100 pounds is a black belt and the 200-pound person is not, there’s a weight advantage that the non-black belt has. Sometimes it can be very overbearing that even a black belt cannot defeat.

The skill of the black belt is basically the skill to fight during a competition. It does not mean that that person can defeat anybody with a lower level. You mentioned that size matters.

We are placed into weight categories. Sometimes if you are more experienced than another person but you are much smaller, you still have a possibility of winning if you can use the right tactics.

You have attended many competitions in this sport. In life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That’s life. Tell us the time that you felt scared and wanted to quit. How did you overcome that feeling and thought?

It was probably the first Nationals that I went to. I won States and I was going into Nationals. I prepped myself, I was eating well. I made sure I was in my weight category that I was supposed to be in, which is not always easy because you have to keep a certain weight. It’s pretty hard. We were in Detroit I believe. I fought my hardest. She beat me by so many points. I remembered I was so upset. I was like, “I put so much work and hard dedication into something, and it wasn’t even a close fight.” She beat me by a lot. It was a good fight too but I remember feeling so disappointed in myself. I just remembered I was like, “That was the worst. I hope that never happens again.”

How did you get out of that mode, that negative talk?

It took me a long time. I came back from the competition from Paris and Israel. I realized that after that incident happened, I kept having more losses. It brought up a pattern in my brain like, “You’re going to lose.” Then one day I lost again and I was so close to beating her. I was like, “That’s it. Just because I think I’m going to lose, I don’t try as hard. I can’t think like that anymore.” It changed how I think to myself mentally when I’m preparing for a competition.

Were you the one who recognized that or did somebody help you or support you to change your mindset at that time?

My dad talked to me, “That’s all fake. Whatever you’re thinking is not real because you’re going out of state, nationally. You’re fighting people from other countries. Whatever you’re saying that you’re not good enough is false because you’re out here competing and winning. There’s a price to pay. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. It’s a part of life.” For a while, I didn’t want to hear it. After I lost in Paris, I was like, “This is a destructive way of thinking. That’s it. I can’t think like that anymore because it’s doing me worse.”

He has been coaching you, giving you guidance all along. He said no until the day or the time that you’re saying, “Whatever I believe doesn’t work, so I better change my mind about myself.” What about the time that you felt like you are on top of the world? When was that?

It was probably in 2018 when I just won States in California State. I’d beaten one of the coaches. I don’t remember exactly who she was but I beat her. It was an easy fight I would say. The second girl that I was going against was somebody who had made the National team before. That means that she was fighting for the US. She had previously been on the National team. It was a really good fight. I was winning the rounds and then on the last second, she scored and so we were tied. It was like 9/9 or 7/7 or something like that. I was thinking to myself like, “I’m so tired. Why did I let her score that last point on me? Now I have to work more and I was so tired.”

I don’t even remember where the attack was, but I think I kicked her. It was a headshot, but I’m not exactly sure. It scored and I won. That means that since I won the California State, there’s an association called California Unified Taekwondo Association or CUTA for short. That means that they would take whoever made first place in the senior division, and they would take them to Paris and Israel. My whole team was like, “Sabrina, you made it. You’re a member. Aren’t you so excited?” I was so stunned. I was like, “I can’t believe I did it. I went against an ex-National team member,” and I only had three years of experience at the time. I was like, “This is insane. It was crazy.”

What went through your mind at that time compared to the time that you lose?

It was good. I was really proud of myself. I was like, “All my hard work paid off. It was meant to be. I worked hard.”

It is important that you put that into your memory bank so in the future when you are in doubt about yourself, you use that. You trigger that memory and then it will boost you up to the next level. What are the lessons you have learned from Taekwondo?

I learned that you have to love yourself. Taekwondo is a very male dominant sport. Sometimes I feel like, “I’m the only girl here. I’m working with a guy or I’m fighting a guy.” Sometimes it’s like a barrier. I just have to get over it. I like to be different than everybody else. I’m glad that I’m doing a sport that only a few of my friends do. I think I have one other friend out of my immediate group of friends who do Taekwondo.

The ratio for girls is very small?

It’s probably a little bit more than 10%. The younger kids who are still in elementary school, there are many more girls. I think the older you get, the fewer girls there are. I’m the only senior girl now that’s competing for my studio. I have another teammate who is also a senior that’s a girl, but she doesn’t train as much as I do.

At that time, you’re watching for your image, your beauty. Otherwise, in this dĹŤjĹŤ, you’re going to get sweat and the hair is messy, things like that. I think that’s one of the concerns.

It’s funny because our coach sometimes makes fun of us. We’ll be tying our hair or fixing our shirts and he’s like, “Come on, girls. Come join us after you finished your makeup, your hair, and your dress.” It’s good though because my studio doesn’t have any mirrors. It’s hard sometimes especially when we’re doing a certain technique and I can’t see myself. Just like in dance, it’s good to have a mirror so you can see how you look. In our studio, we don’t have a mirror, so I don’t know how I look, which is cool.

How do these lessons apply to you in life and as a young woman? What did you learn from Taekwondo? 

It taught me how to get out of my comfort zone because I started only a couple of years ago. This summer will be in a total of four years. When I first started, I was like, “I’m so bad.” One of my teammates, he’s turning twelve. He’s super good, he always wins. I would always compare myself to him. I was like, “People are going to laugh me that my kicks aren’t as good as the other younger kids.” It really pushed me to get out of my friend zone. I never was a shy child growing up. It taught me how to be more willing to try anything, more willing to do things I’ve never tried before, and make new friends. In Taekwondo, even though it’s an individual sport, it’s one person against another person. It’s a team sport because we train together, we learn together and we grow together. It’s taught me how to be a better person.

You are in twelfth grade right now and you probably applied to several universities. Which one did you apply and why?

Taekwondo: Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. It’s a part of life.

I applied to a couple of UCs. I did UC Davis, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Barbara. I specifically wanted to go to UC Davis because they have a really good Taekwondo team. Some of the members on the team had made the California Association, CUTA. They got to travel and I was like, “I want to be on that team so I get to follow and be able to do Taekwondo.” Also, I wanted to be in the medical field and Davis has a good medical school.

What major are you looking for? 

I wanted to do Global Disease. You’d be studying Biology and stuff like that.

I was thinking about that. Would you suspend the Taekwondo sports or interest when you are in college? If you get into Davis, you most likely will continue it, right?

Yeah. If it doesn’t work, if I don’t end up getting into the college that I want to, my plan is to go to Diablo Valley College. They have a system that tags with a UC Davis, the transfer system.

This is the last question. I want you to think hard because you represent your generation. If there are any Asian parents out there in the audience, what would you want them to know about your generation? What do you want in life and what’s important to you?

I want to say that it’s different from the older generations. I think every generation is different from the next generation. It’s because of technology and how we are as a society. Definitely, this generation now is different from the one before because of cell phones and technology and the way we communicate with each other through different social media and texting and calling. Back in the day, they had to send letters. Then email became a thing and then texting. Soon I’ll be reading your mind and you already know what I’ve been saying. Kids will be kids. Our generation still have some relations but it’s just different socially and how we talk to each other. It’s different, like a slang.

You are different, but what do you want to tell other parents out there to understand your generation and be more compassion toward your generation?

To be more patient. I have some friends who their parents aren’t that patient. For both sides, the parent and the child, there needs to be patience on both sides because it’s not always the parent’s fault or the child’s fault. Sometimes everybody just needs to be low and talk to each other when something’s wrong.

Do you think that your generation would have compassion toward their parents? Would they understand what the parent is going through?

I think it’s hard to say as a whole for everybody. In some cases, it really depends on the person and how they talk to each other.

How the child talks to the parents, how the family communicates with each other, right?

Yeah. It’s always based on the personality. Some people are very open to everything and communication. Other times there are people who don’t want to communicate at all and they just want to be in their own little square and not talk to anyone else.

The personality is very important to recognize that and learn how to communicate using that personality. You understand how to communicate to that person with that personality. I’m very pleased to see that you have set a high standard for people of your age. To be the guest on this podcast, you are becoming the Asian Woman of Power. I have no doubt about that. Thank you for playing full out. Best of luck in college, Sabrina. Take care. 

Thank you.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Quotes 

"Taekwondo is about respecting the elders, respecting your masters."

"My studio doesn't have mirror, so I don't know how I look, which is cool - I guess."

"Just because I'm going to lose does not mean I don't try as hard."

"There will be socially, but it will be different."

"When other people get stressed, sometimes you have to not let it get to you."


About Sabrina Sorokorensky

My name is Sabrina Sorokorensky and I am 18 years old. I am the second generation of Ukrainian-Malaysian-American. I was born in Philadelphia, then later moved to Florida. When I was 8, my family moved to California. I love sports, and I was involved in gymnastics, track, and tennis growing up. When I was in Freshman year of high school, I took on taekwondo. This summer will be my 4th year in this sport. I really love to cook and spend time with my friends. I also work at In n out Burger Chain!

Accomplishment from Taekwondo so far:

2017 California State – In Junior division: Bronze award. In Senior division: Silver award.

2018 California State – In Senior division – Gold award.

2018 Israel Open: Bronze award

2019 Oregon State: Bronze award

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!



Subscribe to get our latest content by email.