Ken Li's Posts (10)

Sort by



One thing that I have told people time and time again during sparring or in class is to ‘just breathe’ and relax. This will be a story of how I had to take my own advice.

I guess, I will start the story with this; over the past few weeks, I have been talking to someone who brought back some memories of what I have personally went through with over the past two years and how I finally reached a point in my life of just being happy. I will preface this story by saying that I live a pretty good life, I have great friends, a job I love going to everyday with some of the best coworkers I could ever ask for, and a supportive family. However, 2015 and 2016 were personally, very difficult years for me. I also understand that there are a lot of people who have had problems their entire lives and not just two years, but I thought I’d share my story, since it’s also important with how you deal with the hardships.


Without going through too much detail, I had issues with almost every aspect in my life. Relationships ended, work seemed like it was going nowhere, and some of my friends seemed out of touch. Every day I would wake up feeling upset, I’d go to work with a fake smile and just trudge through. Even going to practice didn’t feel right (No offense to MIMA!!!). I felt trapped, suffocated and generally not happy. However, I always told myself to take a step back and breathe, things could always be worse (even though, it didn’t seem like things could get worse at the time).


So, in the spring of 2015, I felt like I just needed to figure out who I was again. So, I just decided to change everything that I could. Everything else that I couldn’t change or control, I would just let that sort itself out later. I work at one of the various courthouses throughout King County. After working at the Redmond location for seven years, I decided to transfer to the Seattle location, even though I heard horror stories about that location, however I had friends there and if I disliked working there, I could always go back to Redmond later. Took a break from Taekwondo for a while and explored different ways to workout (I always planned to return!). Decided to reunite with some old friends and see how they were doing. I also came to terms with being single and not in a relationship wasn’t a bad thing either. There was always anxiety that I would dislike the new place I would be working at or if my friends didn't want to talk to me since it's been so long, etc. However, as frightening, or anxious as I got, I always remembered to just take a deep breath when things seemed overwhelming to try to stay calm and to reflect on my thoughts and put them into perspective.


I had forgotten how amazing of a group my friends are. They definitely helped smooth things over a lot. The new work location was also one of the best spur of the moment decisions I’ve ever made. To this day, I have never regretted the transfer… Especially since I’ve been promoted since then! In terms of relationships, I’d much rather be single then finding the wrong person.


After a lot of time reflecting, reconnecting with my friends and family, and definitely a lot of deep breaths, everything feels right again. I wasn’t sure if it was just time or making changes with how I did things or a combination of both, but I don’t have to fake a smile every day when I get out of bed, I don’t wake up upset and it feels like I know who I am again. I must say, it is a good feeling!


Life is full of interesting surprises, some that are definitely bad surprises, but also there are definitely good surprises as well. The moral of this whole story is; no matter how bad it’s going or how awful you feel, just remember to take a step back, breathe, relax and reflect.

Read more…

My Recommendation for Ariel

Ariel Abad will make a wonderful black belt candidate. Ariel and I practically started at MIMA at the same time. Both of us have been partners throughout most of the classes at MIMA. We have always pushed and helped each other get better. Aside from practicing together, I have seen him help other students become better as well. As we’ve practiced together, I have seen Ariel improve after every class. I believe Ariel’s positive nature at MIMA is a clear reflection of how he is as a person as a whole.

From the few years that I have gotten to known Ariel; I have known him to be an extremely supporting husband as well as a great father figure to his three children. He is able to take care of three, young children as well as juggle a full-time job. What is impressive, is that he is still able to find time to practice Taekwondo with work and his family. Ariel also has a wonderful and very supportive network of family members.

Being a black belt is more than just working out a few times a week. It is also about who you are as a person and how you live. I believe that Ariel’s qualities as a husband, father as well as his dedication as a Taekwondo student, will make him be a perfect black belt candidate.

-CGN Ken Li

Read more…

What Being a Black Belt Means to Me

My definition of being a black belt has evolved over the years. When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a ninja and/or a Power Ranger, that’s what being a black belt meant to me back then. Now, it means being Batman, fighting crime and taking names… Kidding! When I started doing martial arts, I thought being a black belt would be to become proficient at self defense techniques and sparring. As I progressed through Mercer Island Martial Arts, I found that being a black belt was so much more.


When I started at Mercer Island Martial Arts, I was trying to turn a new leaf; college was not conducive to a healthy life style with the constant studying and sitting in the library or my room all day and night. I wanted to try to a healthier routine with my life, which included: working out more, eating healthier and finding more active activities to do with my time. As I started working out at Mercer Island Martial Arts, I found that that it was more than just a place to work out; I learned that being a black belt is more than just being a proficient with the techniques we learn and staying physically fit. It’s also about being able to stay mentally fit as well. I have always tried to respectful and try to empathize with others, even though it may be hard at times.


Aside from being mentally and physically fit, the most important thing I saw was how everyone gave back to the community and went out of their way to help out others. Mercer Island Martial Arts is a community in its own right; I have seen the staff and students give back so much of their time and effort into the community and beyond, that it’s very heartwarming and I am proud to be a part of this community.


So, with all that said, to me being a black belt is about treating yourself well. Being able to stay healthy and being able to stay calm no matter what life throws at you. Also, it’s about being able to help those around you and those who you may not even know. I have learned a lot about myself and what my own definition of a black belt means, and hopefully my definition will evolve even further as time goes by.

Read more…

Child's Play Charity

3820643575?profile=originalBefore I start, I use the term "nerd" in a very endearing way :). I like to think of myself as a nerd at heart. I love talking about computers, video games or pretty much anything technology related.

A few years back during my fall quarter at UW I got pretty sick, I don't know all the technicalities behind what happened, but my doctor pretty much said my immune system was on overdrive. It got to the point that I had to drop most of my classes except for the one that I really needed to take. Traveling back and forth from my parents home in Bellevue to UW, as well as having a part-time job and being ill was really hard to manage.

One of the biggest things that helped take my mind off being sick was playing video games. I was and still am really fortunate to be able to afford the parts to a build a really nice gaming computer. Video games helped make the illness a lot more bearable by letting me immerse myself into a nice, little virtual story (I'm not a fan of the really violent ones, I like a nice story). Now, I don't condone playing excessive amounts of video games, but when I was stuck in my room most days, it helped past the time while I was getting better during those few months.

A while back I came across a charity called "Child's Play". They are a non-profit organization that uses the money to raise purchase toys and video game consoles for hospitals for sick children. This organization immediately piqued my interest. It made me think about how much worst it could've been without a distraction. I also learned that a variety of gaming/software companies; ranging from small, independent ones to bigger companies, also donate a their time and money to help this charity. Aside from the companies, a lot of gamers spend their time helping their cause, by posting events on their event calendar.

A lot of time gamers will hold a marathon to see how much money they are able to earn during the few days they are playing. I've spent some time joining them on the marathons and it is really touching to see this community of gamers come together to try and help children. Also, there are other companies/developers who will actually donate their own games through websites such as From there you can pay any amount of money for a bundle of games and then choose if you want to split the money between charity, the website or to the developer. Even though I appreciate the work from the developers, I've always donated the entire amount to the charity.

If any of you have any free time, please take a look at Child's Play at and feel free to take a look at their events and/or donate. I know there are a lot of charities out there for a lot of amazing causes, but this one holds a special place in my heart.

Read more…

Hero Entry 5 - The Lady with the Forgotten Name

an-unknown-hero.jpg(I know the title of this post is a bit cryptic, but I promise, I will explain it!) During my senior year of my undergrad at UW, I had to find a place to do an internship. I found a place called the "Unemployment Law Project", which is located at Downtown Seattle. It was a non-profit law firm that would take cases where a person thought their unemployment benefits were wrongfully taken away from them.

I met and talked with a lot of people there, but one of them stood out to me the most. I honestly wish I could remember her name, but a lot of time has passed since my undergrad (then again, I couldn't give out it anyways, due to confidential reasons). She was a middle aged lady, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to use up all her sick leave and time off to make it to all her doctor appointments and she was just feeling terrible. She got to the point where she had to leave her job to take care of herself, and her employer promised her that she would have a job when she got back. Fast forward a few months, and to her surprise, her employer had fired her. So, now she was sick and did not have a job when she got better, and to add insult to injury, her employer were not going to pay for her unemployment.

When I talked with her, she didn't sound resentful or angry. Of all the people I had talked to, she was the most upbeat and charismatic person I had to talk while I was there. She was dealt a terrible hand and she was able to joke about herself and we had a very nice conversation. I asked her upfront how she able still stay so upbeat, even though all these terrible things were happening to her, and she just told me that even though she was upset on the inside, she tried her best to stay upbeat, since this was just a small bump in her life. The conversation with her, just blew my mind away, since I'm 99.9% sure I wouldn't be able retain my composure like she could, if I was in her shoes. This lady, who I barely knew, taught me how to not let all the little things in my life get to me and try to get through life upbeat and with a smile on my face.

So, in the end, we took her case, and I wasn't able to stay at the firm long enough to see the outcome of her case, but I truly hoped the firm was able to win her benefits for her. Cheers to the lady whose name I really wish I could remember, but I can't. Thank you for being the most memorable moment of my senior year at UW!

Read more…

Hero Entry 4 - Judge Linda Jacke

Jacke,_Linda.jpg?1348058837(Slight disclaimer before I start; I tend to side with the prosecutorial side of issues when it comes to the justice system, this entry is just respecting someone I admire and not regarding any type of politics.)

Anyways, as a few of you know, I currently work for the King County District Court system. I have worked with many Judges over the past five years there and I have gotten to know them very well. Out of all the ones that I have worked with, I have the deepest respect and admiration for Judge Linda Jacke. It is my opinion that she is one of the fairest Judges’ that I have worked with. She has shown me, time and time again, to never judge a book by its cover.

She has taught me how to look at the whole picture about something, before making any decisions. Most importantly, she has shown me what empathy really is. Everyone has a story, when they do every little thing, and it is important to understand why that person did what they did; good or bad. I have learned how important it is to understand the underlying causes or reasons in which something happens, and I believe it helped me become a better person, because of it.

At the end of each and every single case, she will tell everyone involved to “have a nice day”, no matter how terrible the charge was or who the person is. I will miss her, since she will be retiring at the end of this year, so I hope she will have many nice days ahead when she is done with her time on the bench.

Read more…

Okay, okay, hear me out, before giving me any weird looks (I know giving your child ice cream for dinner, probably isn't the best idea)! I was going through my daily news sources and while I was watching one of them on YouTube last night, I came across this story. So, please take a moment to watch this, it's only 2.5 minutes, it was so touching! [Insert 2.5 minute pause here] I almost broke down in tears when I finished watching this, so I just wanted to say, everyone, enjoy your lives and the people in them, and if you can, have a ice cream sundae for dinner! :)

Here's the YouTube video and Facebook links:

Read more…

Hero Entry 3 - Lawrence Li

3820641144?profile=originalMy dear older brother, we’ve watched each other grow up since… well the day we were born! Although we had our bumps growing up with our seven year age difference, you have always watched over me. When you came back from college, both of us were a bit older and a bit wiser, and we practically became friends, and not the bickering little boys that we once were. Even though we’re almost exact opposites of each other, I could not ask for a better brother. You can teach me what you know, and I can teach you what I know, there’s never a dull moment.


There were a lot of times where I didn’t like hearing what you had to say growing up; at the end of the day, I will admit, you were right most of the time (this is the only time I’ll admit to this!). As I got older, I do realize you were looking after me. I may not have appreciated the advice back then, but I am so thankful for what you had said, now that I look back on everything. The best moment with you was when I was able to be your best man for your wedding, I was really honored and humbled to be able to stand next when you got married to your wonderful wife.


I hope I have been a good younger brother over the past year. Although both of us have our differing viewpoints on a lot of things, and bicker about the small stuff, I will always be there for you. With all this said, I love you older bro!

Read more…

Hero Entry 2 - Bethany Robinson

3820640433?profile=originalI call you Renee’s sister for a very good reason! Even though, we’ve only known each other for about a year, I consider you to be one of my best friends. You are so caring in regards to your friends. You have always listened to my rants and raves too, and I honestly don’t know how you and Renee can stand me! We talk almost every day as well, about some of the most random things as well (I swear I’m not copying and pasting the other post); that it always helps brighten my day a bit (transitioning from a discussion of politics to Power Rangers in an instant, comes to mind).


There was one event in particular though, that really showed how amazing of a friend and a person you are. You spent most of that night helping me feel better after what happened, and that shows how great of a person you are. Even before that, you always have had the most positive energy around you, that it is contagious. I know I can count on you to help put a smile on my face when I’m feeling down, and for that, I am forever indebted to you as well. I can always count on your blunt opinions and/or advice too.


Like your non-related-at-all sister, I have tried my best to be as great of a friend to you as you have with me. I honestly could not have asked for another amazing friend as you.

Read more…

Hero Entry 1 - Renee Swadener


My best friend of 8 years, and someone I consider my sister, even though we’re not related at all. You have always listened when I needed to talk to someone. You are one of the kindest, sweetest, caring and most understanding person I have ever met. Even though you and your husband both live in Arizona, you have always been a phone call, e-mail, and/or instant message away. We have literally talked every day since the day we met. We talk about some of the most random things (cheese comes to mind) and important life events.


You have helped me through some of my hardest days and have listened to me go on and on about some of my best days. Although, you like to be pretty reserved and shy about what you say and do, I value your advice and views over anyone else. I can confide some of my biggest secrets to you, and you have never betrayed that trust. Add to the fact that you will get back to me about something important as soon as you can, is something that I am beyond thankful for, even if you do get back to me at 4 or 5 in the morning!


I have always tried my best to be a great as friend to you as you have with me. I will always lend an ear, even if it is 4 or 5 in the morning (I will always pick up that phone even if I am half asleep)! No words can describe the gratitude that I have for you over these past years. You really have helped me a lot throughout these past few years, and I cannot tell you how much your friendship means to me over these past few years.

Read more…