We had heard about Angela Staup for some time and we were finally able to meet up with her in person this past winter at her stomping grounds in Valley County, Idaho. Born and raised in McCall, this Idaho native knows more than just about potatoes. In fact, she could probably wipe the floor clean with you! She is a Master in Taekwondo, donning such accomplishments such as a two time champion at the UC Open and defending champion at the International Friendship Open. She also owns and operates her own Taekwondo studio in McCall, where she is able able to pass on her experience and passion to others. She may be tough, but she’s also got brains – she has a B.A. in Economics from CSU San Bernardino and is a published writer. Angela just screams of an empowering woman so we were blessed to be able to catch up with this Renaissance gal to ask her a few questions, here’s what she had to say…
SBM: Tell us about your Taekwondo studio, how did you get into martial arts and eventually owning your own studio?
AS: I have been doing Taekwondo for 22 years, and this is the 4th year since I reopened the Dojang in McCall! I started Taekwondo because I was violently assaulted by an older student when I was 5 years old. My parents put me in TKD and I never turned back. Through the ups and downs, injury, moving, school, everything – Taekwondo has been a constant in my life and has given me such confidence. I feel as though I can pull through any challenge – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Having had that confidence and community (Taekwondo is a family, no matter where you are) to support me really encouraged me to teach. I never saw myself as a victim and wasn’t treated like one. That feeling was huge; I was empowered. I wanted to give that feeling to other people, no matter what their struggles in life may be. I don’t believe in being a “victim” of assault, disease, or anything.
As I was finishing college, I started coming back to McCall and saw that the club had fallen apart. Several former members contacted me to see if I would be willing to give them private lessons to help prepare them for their higher belt tests – they really wanted to finish the journey they started by receiving their black belt. I was happy to comply and began making frequent trips home to teach in my parents’ backyard. After a number of weeks, our group began to grow to the point where I felt I needed an actual space in which to train them properly. It felt right being home, teaching what I loved and being able to give back to my community. I have been running the McCall Taekwondo Club ever since!
SBM: Recently, Miss Nevada (a fourth-degree black belt) received backlash for stating she believed women should learn self-defense in order to defend themselves against sexual assault. What are your thoughts about women and self-defense?
AS: I think self-defense is important for everyone, not just women. I am not much into statistics, but they have their place. According to the CDC, 1 in 20 women and men are sexually assaulted in the USA every year and this is not simply an American issue, for example, 1 in 7 men in the UK are assaulted (not necessarily sexually) each year. The backlash Miss Nia Sanchez received was absolutely ridiculous. To me, the people who are criticizing her are not living in the present with the rest of us. It should be everyone’s goal to create a better, safer world for each other. For people living in reality, being able to walk confidently out our door each day is unfortunately lacking but we can’t be scared of life. Having a martial arts background, aside from a sports or academic background, has made vast changes in many people I have worked with. You can pick out the “victims” of life and the people who are prepared for life.
The most important part of self-defense is confidence. Without confidence, people lack common sense, hope, and strength. I teach several community self-defense classes in McCall and Stanley each year, as well as for schools and private groups. In just one or two sessions, it is amazing to see the change in most people. It inspires people to be “active” in their life, not passive. I think back to my 5 year old self – an avid dancer, piano player, and happy kid – I was destroyed by that cruelty, and was wholly saved by the confidence Taekwondo sparked in me. I started feeling strong enough to stand up for the kids being picked on or bullied; even if I lost the battle in one way or another, I never stopped trying to defend others.
SBM: During the winter, you work as a terrain park digger at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho, tell us a little about your experience with that?
AS: I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. I was working part time and teaching about 20 hours a week and just really wanted to get out and ride. The volunteer park position was open and I volunteered. I loved it! Getting up early, raking, building, shaping – all of it was so fascinating! I quickly completed my 40 hours and stayed on for the whole season and the next year I was invited back to work as a paid, full time employee.
SBM: Tamarack has been through a lot since its genesis, including a huge park budget cut. How have you and your crew dealt with those changes and improvised?
AS: We have just adapted. Again, I am not into the idea of being a victim. Change happened, we adjusted, and have taken what we have and made the best of it.
SBM: Any news about what is in store for Tamarack and its park?
AS: That’s classified information.
SBM: Ha, guess we’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else. What are your thoughts about local women’s freestyle? Where do you think it is now and where do you think it is headed on a local level?
AS: I feel like there is a lot of potential out there for the local scene. It is just about encouraging girls and women to get involved and stay involved. This past Olympics gave a gleam of hope to a lot of local riders that they can compete and can make their dreams happen. Sometimes it seems that being from “Idaho” is a hurdle for many people. It is reminiscent of when I was little and Picabo Street was the local Olympic hero! Every girl in my class wanted to ski. We have more and more local athletes making it to these larger, more competitive stages from racing (Hailey Duke) to freestyle (Kaitlyn Farrington & Jessika Jensen), who are not just amazing athletes but admirable women as well! These women are the new winter sport heroes and they are wonderful role models! Their success helps rock the stereotype of being from Idaho and I think is giving a good boost to the local scene.
SBM: What got you into skiing?
AS: I was born and raised in McCall! My parents were avid skiers and overall outdoor enthusiasts; it just seemed natural.
SBM: When you’re not kicking butt in a studio or on the slopes, what are some other hobbies that keep you occupied?
AS: I golf, paddle board, do yoga, canoe, hike, bike, camp, fish, read, write, crochet, just about anything! I love living and learning! There is so much in this world to experience; I don’t want to miss any of it.
SBM: What is some advice you’d like to give to women?
AS: Don’t let life just happen; be an active player in your own life! Be confident in who you are and where you are. That sort of attitude will open many unknown doors; it is unbelievable!
SBM: Why do you love being a woman?
AS: Besides just being awesome? Women are able to balance our lives and make things happen. I have this unstoppable drive to succeed! Part of it stems from that “You’re just a girl” attitude I encounter in society and defying that stereotype is great. In Taekwondo, my instructor Master Larry Duke says to “Kick like a girl” is the standard and nothing less. That is an attitude throughout martial arts. Women are just as good as men are – we are all warriors on the path toward a better world.
We love that someone as bright and passionate as Angela is spreading her knowledge on to others. We are thankful for the “like a girl” movements that are gaining ground because we are proud to be women and to do things like a girl “is the standard and nothing less.” Thank you for not only building women up in strength but also in confidence!