Mr. Jonathan Rippe-2nd Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
My name is Jonathan Rippe. I am a long time Gretna resident. I moved here when I was nearly two and graduated from Gretna High School in 2015. I then went to college at Concordia University, receiving a BA in Music and a minor in Accounting in 2018. I then moved back to Gretna and currently work for Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies.
I began Taekwondo with my older brother back when I was in Kindergarten. I like to think I started because I wanted to be like a power ranger; however, my parents seem to think I started because I needed the discipline. After sitting in on a class or two, my brother and I were hooked. As we went through the ranks together, we found that it was great to have someone to compete against and we could practice at home.
As a child, I went to a lot of competitions. I will never forget my first tournament as a white belt where I got a first place medal in forms and a third place medal in sparring. That would be the only first place award I would earn until after I would receive my black belt. It took me 10 years to get my black belt. Though this is longer than most, I believe it has helped me develop a deep love and appreciation for Taekwondo. During those 10 years, I would take breaks for other sports or other extra-curricular activities. By having a wide range of experiences, I can say undeniably that Taekwondo was my sport.
I received my black belt on January 7, 2011 from Master Rick Staack (6th degree), Mr. George Reese (5th degree) and Mrs. Lana Christensen (3rd degree) at the age of 14. I became a trainee instructor right away and began learning how to instruct students, as well as, preparing to test for my 2nd degree black belt. Earning my 2nd degree was a difficult time for me. When I tested the following year in December, I failed my first ever testing due to not breaking a board with a run up jump side kick. It would take me 8 more months of training and recovering from various injuries before I would earn my 2nd degree on October 11, 2013 at the age of 17. Since receiving my first and second degree black belts, I have competed at numerous tournaments and earned 1st place trophies often. There were three years that I also was named the Mid-American Alliance champion for my division. Recently, I competed and won the Tri-State Tournament hosted by Marshall’s Taekwondo Academy in Sioux City, SD. Currently, I am preparing to test for my certification to become and instructor and then to test for my 3rd degree black belt.
Mrs.Michelle Szaro-2nd Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
I live in Valley, Nebraska and attend Douglas County West High School
Ms.Savannah Duncan-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
I live in Valley, Nebraska and attend Douglas County West High School. I sing in the high school choir and work on the school year book activities in my digital jounalism class.Each year the choir goes to the NCC competition and travel on a mini tour around the community to sing holiday songs at senior and veterans homes during the Christmas season. I love seeing the elders radiant expressions after we perform and I'm glas I get to bring some light to their day.
I love to draw, do fishing with my dad, and train as a martial artist at Andersen Taekwondo.
After school I work at the Valley kids club daycare. It's always interesting spending time with the kids, helping them figure out puzzles and listening to their fascinating stories.
The best days of my life are the days I spend training in martial arts. Taekwondo has run in my family for a really long time, all 5 of my siblings earned their black belts or higher and my parents were also in taekwondo. Now it is just me and my uncle, Master Carlton Duncan that represent the Duncan family.
I started in taekwondo when I was five years old and up until I was a blue belt I went to a martial arts school in Omaha. We transitioned to the Gretna area and trained under the later,Master Rick Staack and now under the guidance of Andersen Taekwondo. I am one of the few that doesn't live very close to the taekwondo school, but to me it is well worth the drive. My grandma Vi, is kind of like our school mascot and has been taking me to taekwondo for as long as I've been alive.
Mr.Thomas Lukaszewicz-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
My name is Thomas Lukaszewicz, and I am currently a first-degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. I started the sport when I was around twelve years old, and I have loved being part of it ever since. When I first started, I considered myself to be a shy person. I really wanted to learn a martial art, but I often kept to myself. After a few months of class however, I really started to see myself changing into a much more outgoing person. To me, Taekwondo is a sport in which you can make some of your greatest friends, while learning information that could save your life.
Whether I’m sparring with all I have, or casually practicing my older forms, Taekwondo has always taught me valuable skills and traits that I would never trade away. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without the sport, as it has such a pivotal role in my life. Today, I am eighteen years old, and I go to the University of Nebraska Lincoln, where I plan to eventually earn a law degree. Outside of Taekwondo, I enjoy playing video games, interacting with animals, and outdoor sports.
My name is Michael Lukaszewicz, I’m 17 years old, and I’ve been doing Taekwondo since January 2014. After 4 years of hard work and dedication, I received my black belt on April 21st, 2018. I do Taekwondo mainly for self defense and exercise, and I doubt I could have found something better. A big part of Taekwondo is growing as a person. It creates a good work ethic, respect, responsibility, confidence, good judgement, and leadership.
I’ve been doing Taekwondo since 2014, and I’ve never considered quitting because of how beneficial and enjoyable it is for me. Outside of Taekwondo, I go to Creighton Prep, where I’m involved in the zoology club. In zoology, we mainly just feed the animals and make sure they have enough water. We have 4 fully grown snakes, a bearded dragon, a tarantula, and more leopard geckos than I can count. We also have some aquatic animals like an axolotl, a bass, and a tank of piranhas. I’m planning on going to UNL to study biochemical engineering, or go into law.
Long term, I would like to work in medicine or get into politics.
Mr.Michael Lukaszewicz-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
Mr.Matthew Keller-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
Matthew is a Junior at Papillion-LaVista High School.
He is a part of the STEM Academy, and he is active in SkillsUSA and the school’s Dungeon’s and Dragons Club. Matthew works part-time at Fareway. In his spare time, he enjoys playing Magic the Gathering and Xbox with friends. Matthew has been a part of the Andersen Taekwondo family since fifth grade and is now a 1st degree black belt and student instructor.
Ms.Bree Hovendick-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
My name is Bree Hovendick and I am a senior at Gretna High School. I am 17 years old and I have been doing Taekwondo for 6 years. As a child, I was interested in Taekwondo but I struggled to find the right place until I found Andersen Taekwondo. I enjoy being a training instructor because I get the opportunity to help kids do what I love.
I also would like to one day become an Elementary teacher.
Ms. Ella Clarke-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
Ms.Emma Willey-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
Mr.James Severson-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
My name is James Severson, I’m 17 years old and I’ve been doing taekwondo for about 6 years. I started doing tang soo do, a different form of martial arts, when I was in first grade with my twin brother. I did that for two years while living in Florida.
Our neighbors introduced me to Andersen Taekwondo. My whole family has taken Taekwondo and enjoyed it.
I have competed at that State level twice. I’ve been lucky to be around all of the great instructors and students, who’ve helped me mature and grow during my time at Anderson Taekwondo. Class is always fun and I’ve always enjoyed going. We have a great time and also learn interesting and important information at the same time. I feel that participating in martial arts has taught me to stay focused and given me skills I can use later on. Taekwondo has been a great experience. Teaching younger students shows me how much I have learned. I want to continue with Taekwondo for as long as I can.
Other hobbies of mine include being an Eagle Scout, the highest rank you can achieve in Boy Scouts . I have been on Honor Roll in School and currently split my Senior year with classes at the High School and Metro Community College . I have a Yorkshire terrier. I play a lot of video games and I’m a member of Esports Club at the high school. I enjoy being on our sailboat with the family. We like to travel and go to unusual places. Next year I start at UNL-Omaha and will major in Computer Engineering.
Mr.Andrew Kula-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
I was born at a very young age. Eight years after that fateful day, I took it upon myself to join a great community known as taekwondo. At the time I thought that I would become a ninja or a power ranger, but taekwondo helped me realize the truth. One day I may have to protect myself. No one looks forward to the day a nice friendly person comes to mug you, but it can happen to everyone. I'm not saying everyone should race to the nearest martial arts studio, it would be nice, but taekwondo, like Nebraska is not for everyone.
I will NEVER regret joining Andersen Taekwondo al those years ago and would recommend it to anyone whether they want to workout or just make friends.
In conclusion, taekwondo is a great sport and great martial art. If you are reading this it means you are interested, so you should definitely join.
Mr.Alex Hallgren-1st Degree Black Belt-Trainee Instructor
My name is Alex Hallgren, I’m 13 years old and I’ve been doing taekwondo for about 7 years. I started doing taekwondo when I was in first grade, mainly because I thought it would be cool to do martial arts. Little did I know that I would still be doing it today. I’ve been lucky to be around all of the great instructors and students, who’ve helped me mature and grow during my time at Anderson Taekwondo. Class is always fun and I’ve always enjoyed going. We have a great time and also learn interesting and important information at the same time.
I feel that participating in martial arts has taught me to stay humble and how to persevere when something
may not go my way. Overall taekwondo has been a great experience and has helped me outside of class. I want to become at least a second degree black belt and continue to learn more lessons from my peers.
Other hobbies of mine include playing football and competitive swimming. I also love to play with my dog and occasionally play xbox with my friends. Another thing I like to do is watch professional and college football. My favorite pro team is the Seattle Seahawks, and my favorite college team is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. When the summer olympics are on I always tune in to swimming.
In the future I hope to attend college (preferably U.N.L.), and dream of playing football for the Huskers, and maybe even the N.F.L. If my N.F.L. fantasy doesn’t work out I would like to be an athletic trainer or anything in that category. I hope to continue playing all of my sports as long as I can, and become a lot better at them in the process.