Jordan and Doug Dean discuss taking their first taekwondo class together 11 years ago. They still train together and have both earned fourth-degree black belts. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/
Jordan and Doug Dean discuss taking their first taekwondo class together 11 years ago. They still train together and have both earned fourth-degree black belts. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/
Standing on a blue and red gym mat, 16-year-old Jordan Dean takes a deep breath and begins leading a taekwondo class in stretches and warm-up exercise. The class is mostly made up of grown men - one of whom is her father - who follow her every instruction.

Jordan and Doug Dean are the senior students in their class. They've been taking taekwondo lessons for 11 years and have both earned fourth-degree black belts. Jordan was only 5 years old when she began.

"I was a pretty shy kid," she said. "It took me a while to come out of my shell. I think this helped because you come to class and there are new people and you have to talk to people. You have to go introduce yourself and they feel as awkward as you do."

The duo started taking lessons after watching Doug's niece in a class.

They started taking classes at Taylor's Tae Kwon Do in Osgood, and eventually moved to the Madison location because of the closer proximity to their home in Canaan.

"Jordan started early," Doug said. "The smaller kids, they don't always focus very well. I was fortunate that she could focus at a young age."

Initially, Jordan was going to take the classes alone, but Doug eventually changed his mind.

"I thought, well, if I'm going to drive her up here, I'm going to give it a try, too," he said. "That's why I actually tried it."

They've come a long way since then. Both father and daughter progressed through the sport to the point where they can break bricks and wooden boards.

While they both enjoy class, it isn't always easy to make it work. Jordan is involved in the golf team at Madison Consolidated High School and is an honor student, while Doug works full time at Grote Industries.

"If I go home and I sit on the couch ... I am not getting out of the house. Because I'm tired. I've been at work. But, no kidding, when I leave here, I feel better than before I come," Doug said.

Jordan said she's always enjoyed taking class, yet it wasn't always easy to get her through the door when she was younger.

"I liked it a lot, but there were times when, you know, you're a little kid and you don't want to go to class," Jordan said. "But, then he'd say 'No, we're going to class.'"

"Once I got my black belt, it was kind of like, oh, I made it. Let's keep going," she said.

Even with their busy schedules, Jordan said they try to make it to class twice a week.

Because she's turned 16, Jordan has been able to begin training with some weapons. So far, the bo staff is her favorite.

"Everybody has their favorite weapon," she said. "But, if I needed to use one, that would be the one I would pick."

The Deans had to take tests every nine weeks to progress through different belt levels, memorizing two different forms, four one-step spars, four self-defense poses and even Korean terminology for each test.

When drilling each other, Doug or Jordan can call out a number and proceed with one attacking and the other defending.

Since becoming black belts, Jordan and Doug haven't had tests as frequently as before.

"Rank has its privileges," Doug said.

Even though she's been coming to class for more than a decade, Jordan knows that she might have to cut back on training, or even switch locations, depending on where she goes to college.

She's entering her junior year at MCHS and knows that those decisions aren't too far off. Despite that, she'd wants to keep training and progressing, even after she goes to college.

"I'd like to keep doing it, especially if I go somewhere close," she said. "It's part of my life, I don't want to give it up. What would I do, you know?"