Connor Bussey – Taekwondo Gallery and Personal Story
Connor Bussey is highly talented in both athletics and academics. He has modeled for me multiple times since this photoshoot in June of 2021. One of these images has appeared in multiple exhibitions, including:
- A Celebration of the Human Body
- Youthful Ambition (at New Orleans Athletic Club for the PhotoNola Festival)
- Extremities: An Exhibition of Hands and Feet
Skip to the end of this page to read Connor’s story in his own words which was part of the process for advancing to 4th degree blackbelt.
Martial Arts Journey
I began my Taekwondo journey at the age of five when my mother’s friend told her that her son was taking classes at Tiger-Rock Martial Arts. Liam went to school with me, so my mother decided to make me try it out. I was a little hesitant since I’d never tried anything like it before, but on August 14, 2014, I joined as a Tiger Cub, at Senior Master Patrick Lee’s original school, in Metairie, Louisiana. I enjoyed martial arts and attended classes several times a week. A couple of years later, the school relocated to its current location on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie, Louisiana.
I was promoted to the junior class shortly after testing for my Tiger Cub yellow belt since it was close to my sixth birthday. It was fun working hard and earning each new belt along the way. I started helping in class on April 28, 2016, as a brown belt, level two, and I earned my red jacket later that summer. On April 8, 2017, when I was only nine years old, I was so excited to pass my first black belt testing and officially become a black belt! At the Heroes Championships in 2020, I was able to rank up to third degree, level three black belt. Senior Master Lee and all of his instructors have taught me that integrity and discipline are very important both on and off the mat. I have carried this confidence with me throughout my martial arts and academic journeys. When I get older, I plan to work as an instructor or school owner for Tiger-Rock Martial Arts.
Tiger-Rock Events Journey
My first belt test took place on October 8, 2014; I got my Tiger-cub yellow belt. On November 15, 2014, I did my first tournament, a Districts tournament, and received a bronze medal in one-steps and a silver medal in forms. I then participated in the testing on December 13, 2014 to get my yellow belt. February 7, 2015 was the day I tested my green belt, level one belt testing. I participated in my first Nationals tournament on March 14, 2015, but I didn’t receive any medals. I tested for my green belt, level two on April 11, 2015. I took part in my green belt, level three testing on April 11, 2015. I didn’t go to the Worlds tournament in Nashville, Tennessee because I went on a trip for the fourth of July. On August 11, 2015, I did the blue belt, level one testing, and on October 13, 2015, I did the blue belt, level two testing. I won a bronze medal and a silver medal at the Districts tournament on November 14, 2015. Around December 12, 2015, I took part in the testing for blue belt, level three.
Around February 15, 2016 was when I tested for brown belt, level one and passed. At the Nationals tournament on March 12, 2016, I won a silver medal in sparring and a bronze medal in board breaking. I tested brown belt, level two around April 20, 2016 and for brown belt, level three on June 11, 2016. Baton Rouge, Louisiana was the first Worlds tournament I attended. My competition took place on July 23, 2016 and I received a gold medal in board breaking and two silver medals in forms and sparring. My testing for red belt, level one was on August 13, 2016, and my red belt level, two testing was on October 8, 2016. November 12, 2016 was the date of the Districts tournament that year; I won a gold medal in board breaking, a silver medal in sparring, and a bronze medal in forms. The first testing I didn’t pass so far was red belt, level three on December 10, 2016.
I did rank-up to red belt, level three on February 11, 2017 though. I won two silver medals in the Nationals tournament on March 11, 2017. April 8, 2017 was the date of the testing for first degree, level one black belt. I took the testing for first degree, level two black belt on June 2, 2017. My competition at the Worlds tournament in Houston, Texas took place on July 22, 2017, and I won a gold medal and a silver medal. My first degree, level three black belt testing was on October 7, 2017. I won a bronze medal in board breaking at the Districts tournament on November 11, 2017.
On February 3, 2018, I took the testing for first degree, level four black belt. At the Nationals tournament on March 10, 2018 I didn’t win any medals. My testing for second degree, level one black belt on June 9, 2018 was the second and last testing I haven’t passed so far. It was do to me goofing off in class. I participated in my competition at the Worlds tournament in Birmingham, Alabama on July 21, 2018. I won a bronze medal in board breaking, a silver medal in forms, a gold medal in sparring, and a gold medal in sparring for round one of the Master’s Division. This was the first time I ranked-up at a tournament and I received my second degree, level one black belt. On November 10, 2018 I won a gold medal in board breaking and a silver medal in sparring at the Districts tournament.
I tested for second degree, level two black belt on February 9, 2019. On March 16, 2019 at the Nationals tournament, I won two silver medals. On June 1, 2019, I did second degree, level three black belt testing. My competition at the Worlds tournament in Orlando, Florida, was on July 20, 2019; I won a silver medal in board breaking, a gold medal in forms, a gold medal in sparring in round one of the Master’s Division, and a bronze medal in sparring in round two of the Master’s Division! I also ranked-up to second degree, level four black belt. I got a silver medal in board breaking at the Districts tournament on November 2, 2019.
My testing for third degree, level one black belt was on February 8, 2020. I won three gold medals in board breaking, heroes sparring, and forms at the Nationals tournament in 2020. On June 13, 2020, I participated in my last normal belt testing for third degree, level two black belt. At the World tournament, Heroes Championship, on July 18, 2020, I won a silver medal in board breaking and heroes sparring and gold medal in forms. I ranked-up to third degree, level three black belt, too. The first Defense Combine was in September, 2020, and I won a black medallion, got the fastest time in the group, and got the fastest time in the school. The next Districts tournament took place on November 13, 2020; I won a gold in sparring and a silver in board breaking.
The first Speed Breaker Challenge took place in January 2021, and I won first place in the second part, the kicks. I passed my pre-test for fourth degree, level one black belt on March 19, 2021, and look forward to my first high rank test at the Worlds in San Antonio next month. March 19, 2021, was also the Nationals tournament where I won a silver in board breaking and a gold in sparring. On May 15, 2021, I won a black medallion and first place in the group at the Defense Combine.
Personal Life Journey
I am an only child, and I was born October 17, 2008, in Boone, North Carolina. My mother and grandparents evacuated from Metairie, Louisiana, to North Carolina before Hurricane Katrina. They lived in Mount Holly, North Carolina, while my mother finished her senior year of high school. She received a scholarship to attend Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. My parents met during my mother’s sophomore year of college in September 2007. I was born during my parents’ fall break in 2008. We lived in Zionville, North Carolina, with my dad’s mother, Sharon. After my mother graduated from college in 2011, we moved back to Metairie, Louisiana, because my great grandma, Helen, was sick. Sadly, my great grandma died in 2012.
My dad stayed in North Carolina because his father, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was dying from exposure to Agent Orange. My parents never got back together, and my father ended up meeting my step-mother, Jamie, and they moved to Tampa, Florida. I see my father occasionally since he lives so far away, but he makes an effort to come to my Worlds tournaments.
My mother sells memberships at the New Orleans Athletic Club and works in real estate. I live with my grandparents since my mom works long hours at the New Orleans Athletic Club. Together, they all work hard to give me the best life I can have. I am fortunate that my grandmother, Mimi, has always been available to bring me to school, Taekwondo lessons and tournaments.