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Outside the Law: The Honorable Robbie Barr and Tae Kwon Do

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

In whatever productive work I do, I will create a masterpiece.

[Louisville TaeKwonDo Family Center Student Creed]

The Honorable Robbie M. Barr is the founder of BarrADR , focusing on settlement of complex commercial transactions, employment, probate, personal injury, construction, environmental, insurance and professional malpractice cases. Prior to starting her own business, Judge Barr worked for many years at the Judicial Arbiter Group.

Before moving to Colorado, Judge Barr served as Circuit Judge in Miami-Dade County, Florida, a court with the fourth largest trial docket in the nation. As a judge in Miami-Dade County, she tried civil as well as criminal cases, developing a unique skill set in all types of claims.

Given Judge Barr’s diverse legal background, it comes as no surprise that she has had decades of ADR success under her third degree black belt.

I had the opportunity to ask Judge Barr a few questions and learn more about her passion for TaeKwonDo and martial arts principles. These martial arts principles also tie into her professional life.

Judge Barr’s tae kwon do journey began after her then husband suggested signing her two kids up so that they could learn discipline, hand-eye coordination, and other useful skills. Years later, Barr’s older son asked her to participate in class because of a hunch that his mom would enjoy the balance and mental discipline that accompanies tae kwon do. At 56 years old, Barr agreed! She thought it was beneficial to give herself new challenges in terms of physical and confidence. According to Barr, “it keeps you at a higher level than you might challenge yourself to do otherwise if you were by yourself.”

It's been only eleven years.

“My initial goal was a black belt before 60, which I did. Then, I got a second degree black belt. So

a few years ago, I tried for a third degree. I talked to my master, which sounds kinkier than it is, but Master Kim encouraged me to try it.”

After six hours of testing, including 200 push ups, 200 sit ups, a number of drills, breaking techniques, and forms, Judge Barr earns a third degree black belt.

“It’s not because I'm extraordinary. Not giving up and being persistent is how I became a black


One tae kwon do philosophy that works for Barr is uniting mind and body (chong shin tong il):

“Sometimes, I rely too much on my mind—in my life, my education and intellect have been a foundation I counted on in tough spots. But, I also have learned to trust my body to do what it needs to do without over thinking (mu shim). In tae kwon do, this means I practice over and over until I develop a muscle memory that guides my movements. In life, it means practicing whatever I am trying to learn or teach over and over, until I can present my ideas confidently without using any mental effort. It also means that I should listen to my body (my gut) when I am making decisions, so that my decisions involve my heart and soul, as well as my mind.”

How do you tie tae kwon do and martial arts principles into your professional life?

“It’s a starting place. MA is all about one step at a time, practicing that over and over until it’s a muscle memory. I’ve turned that into an asset by being patient with people to have them get to where they want to, to find a resolution that they have to take step by step to get there. By coming to it like I do in TKD, where I have a beginner mind/starting from scratch. Not making assumptions about how people have or will behave but to delve deeper into what people actually are capable of doing given their situations.”

For more on Judge Barr, please see:


Hanna Yearout currently works as a legal assistant for Ogborn Mihm, LLP and will be attending the University of Denver Sturm College of Law starting the Fall of 2020. She obtained her bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Colorado - Boulder. During her undergraduate studies she attended the School of International Training in Geneva, Switzerland where her thesis was "Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict: Consequences of a Pervasive Yet Invisible Reality." On her free time, Hanna also actively serves as a Wish Granter for Make-A-Wish Colorado, visiting with wish kids to help determine his or her one true wish and working with wish families throughout the wish process.

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