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San Mateo’s Juliet Bost Finds Links Between Taekwondo, Buddhism

Life for Juliet Bost (they/them/theirs) is filled with diligent training, achievement, and years of involvement with their temple.

The 22-year-old is a 2022 graduate from University of California, Davis, where they earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and participated as a student athlete while being an active member of the San Mateo Buddhist Temple.

They have continued training while working for the Human Rights Watch, a global nonprofit organization.

In April, Bost competed in the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) Championships in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The NCTA Championships is a competition for college sports club teams.

The grueling competition earned Bost the highest accomplishment of the tournament — a gold medal. At the tournament, Bost was also named the 2022 NCTA Female Athlete of the Year.

“There is one male athlete and one female athlete chosen by the NCTA,” Bost said. “I am very grateful for the honor.”

Bost competed in sparring in the female black belt fly (49 kg) division. They defeated Ning Soong of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the semifinals and beat Stephanie Vanalstyne of State University of New York College at Cortland in the championship.

“I felt pretty excited,” Bost said. “Honestly, a little bit in shock. The whole team was there cheering me on. When I won, I was honestly kind of stunned because it really had not sunk in. My coach congratulated me, and we all gathered for a big group hug.

“It turned out to be a good event in general, a very good start in a return to in-person competition and it was an exciting return, especially for the UC Davis team.”

UC Davis captured second place in the black belt team division, winning 14 medals among all 19 athletes.

UC Davis had eight “color belts” medal on that first day, including two gold medalists.

Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art that involves empty-handed combat.

Bost started participating in taekwondo at age 6 and has grown to enjoy the sport.

When introduced to the sport, Bost competed in the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), a more traditional style of taekwondo. At age 12, they began competing in the Olympic-style form of competition sanctioned by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).

When asked if there is a connection with taekwondo and Buddhism, Bost said:

“For me, personally, Buddhism affects every aspect of my life, including taekwondo.”

Through their Buddhist upbringing and practice, Bost is very grateful for opportunities taekwondo offers. Bost is appreciative of the teammates that they get to train with, the athletes they compete against, and the teachers and coaches who have nurtured their training.

“I am grateful for the learning opportunities and competitions,” Bost said. “It involves being mindful of all of the causes and conditions that come together to offer me these opportunities to practice, train, and give all of myself in each moment.”

Bost feels that compassion is a key ingredient for sportsmanship. Expressing compassion, not only in Taekwondo but in any sport, is important.

“Being compassionate to your teammates, your competitors, your coaches, and yourself as well. Training and growing is a process. Being patient and diligent in your practice (ensures) good results will come to fruition,” Bost said.

Growing up in central New Jersey, Bost and their family seldom visited BCA temples in Seabrook or New York because of the long distance. But when Bost was 12, the family moved to the Bay Area, and they began attending the San Mateo Buddhist Temple.

Bost is a certified Youth Minister’s Assistant through the YAC 11 program held in Sacramento in 2015. They help provide Dharma talks or take part in other aspects of Sunday services when Rev. Henry Adams, San Mateo’s Resident Minister, is away.

During the pandemic, when the temple closed its doors and conducted virtual services, Bost used their talents as a taekwondo instructor to introduce exercise to the Sangha.

“Life became very sedentary and isolating. I thought some sort of exercise before the weekly (Zoom) Dharma service would enliven our participation and revitalize connections with each other, they said.

Bost introduced Radio Taiso Japanese calisthenics for 30 minutes before service.

The exercise session, which Bost and their sister, Grace, still lead, is one of several programs offered before Dharma service. Other classes include hula and meditation.

Outside of the temple, Bost contributed articles to the Young Buddhist Editorial during the summer of 2021.

The San Mateo temple is benefiting from the volunteer efforts Bost and other young members provide.

Bost is currently looking into different opportunities of being involved with the ministry or the ministerial side.

“I have been very fortunate to work with mentors such as Rev. Candice Shibata at Stockton, Rev. CJ Dunford at the Berkeley and Marin Buddhist temples, and, of course, Rev. Adams,” they said. “They have been very helpful as I explore what ministry looks like and how to contribute to the temple.”

When asked if ministry is a path for Bost, they commented: “I am seriously considering it, but not sure since I am exploring several career paths now. The temple will always be a big part of my life no matter what I do. (The ministry) is one aspect on how I can give back to the community.”

The wealth of appreciation Bost has received as a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist has resonated in the sport that they love. Sharing their experience with others, both young people who may be interested in sports or are facing life’s challenges, will hopefully nurture a young person’s path.

“Go for it! Even if it is not martial arts, there is no harm in trying something new,” Bost said. “In a humble mindset, enjoy the learning process more than the results. Try something if you are interested in it, with an open mind and open heart.”

Following their gold medal achievement at the national championships, Bost was selected to compete for the USA National team in the International Federation Sports University (FISU) Games. The games took place Oct. 15-29 in Merida, Mexico.

The 11-sport competition for college student athletes drew over 1,000 competitors and officials from 13 countries throughout North and South America. The Taekwondo competition was held Oct. 15-18.

Taekwondo Team USA was made up of 23 athletes. The team earned 21 medals, including three gold, eight silver and 10 bronze. For her achievement, Bost earned two bronze medals — one in individual sparring (49 kg) and one as a member of the tag team sparring.

“I was truly humbled to be training, competing and representing Team USA alongside world-class teammates and coaches,” they said.

Bost expressed much gratitude for the international experience.

“There are too many people to thank for this experience, so I’ll just sum it up with what you say when ‘thank you’ isn’t enough: Namo Amida Butsu.”

Bost believes that there is a lot more overlap between taekwondo and Buddhism than first meets the eye.

“Both journeys have guided me to live honestly, authentically and humbly in the world, thankful for all those whom I rely on along the way and for the learning opportunities in every achievement and challenge,” they said.



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