Mychail Mitchell would make Clark Kent proud.
When the calendar rolls around to February of 2018, Mitchell will have worked for the Elizabethtown post office for 23 years. At the same time he was working for the post office, Mitchell was working towards becoming a master black belt.
Mitchell’s journey began in 2005 as a way to spend more time with his son, Austin, who began his tae kwon do career two years prior.
After a year of training, Mitchell traveled to Knoxville, Tenn., to compete in the 2006 Amateur Athletic Union Tae Kwon Do Nationals. Three months before the competition, however, Mitchell broke his hand and it quickly became a race to see how soon doctors would clear him to return.
The cast eventually came off and the rehab began, but doctors never officially cleared him to compete. Mitchell did anyway.
A first-place finish in Olympic sparring and a second-place finish in forms.
“I remember the camaraderie. No matter who I competed against, in forms or sparring, we got along. Before and after the competition, we all talked. It wasn’t a macho thing. I didn’t expect to see 2,300 people there nationwide. Getting to compete in a national tournament is something that will never be taken away,” Mitchell said.
In the 11 years since performance at nationals, Mitchell said that his maturation in tae kwon do has made him more knowledgeable, more understanding and more confident in himself.
“I’m confident in my own skin. I don’t have to prove that I’m the man. When I’m out with my wife and son, I’m a little calmer in the sense that, with today’s climate, I have a comfort level that I can defend myself, my wife and son a lot better than day one,” Mitchell said.
From day one until year 12, Mitchell’s training put him in a position to be considered for a fourth-degree black belt on Oct. 19. Grand Master Roger Engle spearheaded a panel of seven judges that included Mitchell’s son.
“I was proud that he was there. I was honored that he was on the floor with me, that he sat on the panel. I was ecstatic. Just to have him there, I was extremely happy and proud,” Mitchell said.
Now that he is officially a master, Mitchell said that he will continue his long journey because it is something that he finds himself constantly gravitating toward. He credited his wife, Jennifer, for her help.
“I want to learn as much as I can. It’s kind of cliche, but it’s almost like a calling. It’s something I enjoy. None of this would be possible without my wife’s support. I always want to make my wife and son proud. It’s an endless story,” Mitchell said.