Next week is the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my Taekwon Do journey.
I recall standing alone in my kitchen one evening, almost one year ago; my husband and son both engrossed in their own activities.
Having just cooked two completely different meals to accommodate both dietary needs and personal tastes, I thought, “Is this really all there is…”
It was time to make time for myself.
The idea of studying Taekwon Do kind of popped out of no where.
I had been enamored with martial arts since I was a child, but I hadn’t thought about it for years; decades.
Structured workout routines had long since faded into the backdrop of motherhood.
Daily dogwalking with my best friend Marlo, usually ended with a, “What are you doing for the rest of the day?”
She would invariably reply, “I’m going to work out.”
“You mean that wasn’t our workout?” I’d joke.
What a difference a year makes! Now, six days a week, I’m either at Taekwon Do or working out; some days both. I love it and actually get grouchy if something interrupts my schedule.
My journey began with a mixture of trepidation and excitement.
I’m forever grateful that my friend Christine paved the way. Otherwise I may not have had the courage to start.
During my first few classes, I stuck to her like glue. I felt so self conscious.
Following one of my first classes, Mr B, my awesome, 6th degree black belt TKD instructor, and owner of Mr B’s TKD, asked me how I felt.
My response, “Fat, old and awkward…but I had fun.”
I was 43 years old and about 15 pounds over weight. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but on a five foot frame it is!
The following week, Christine couldn’t come to class. I had to go all by myself.
I recall walking up the stairs to class, taking deep breaths and trying to ignore the palpitations in my chest.
I was so nervous. I didn’t know anyone else and I felt like a big, white blob.
I did it anyway! I walked into class and tried not to look to stupid.
Did I mention I have zero coordination, I’m directionally challenged and I don’t follow directions well…yeah…I’m pretty sure I looked stupid.
The whole endeavor was really overwhelming at first.
Commands were spoken in Korean and everyone called each other sir or ma’am.
Worst of all, little miss question authority and buck the system had to learn how to listen, follow orders and not respond in debate. (Umm…yeah…still working on that.) 🙂
In response to one of my frustrated, belittling myself moments, another instructor, Mr Davis, 3rd degree black belt, advised me to be nice to myself.
Those words helped immensely. While I was expecting immediate excellence on my part, he reminded me that everyone there, black belts included, once felt the same way.
A couple of weeks in, the routine and the environment became familiar and I was able to relax and enjoy myself.
Belt testing works on a cycle. Roughly every four months you get the chance to advance.
I began at an off time, so I had only 8 weeks to learn 16 weeks worth of material. I asked Mr B if he thought I could do it and he told me that if I worked hard I would be fine.
I was so in!
Study, practice. Practice, study; determined right from the start.
Pattern, otherwise called “Tul”, frustrated me.
Awkward I felt, yes. (I love Yoda!)
As I watched the higher belts maneuver through their patterns with such accuracy and intensity, I felt like a dandelion, in a meadow of heather.
Three belts later, I’m getting the knack of it.
January 2014. My first belt test.
Now, the thing about testing is…it terrifies me!
I’ve never had test anxiety in my life! One walks into a test with knowledge of material and passes test. Easy peasy.
Testing for belts, for me, is excruciating. Enter performance anxiety.
Sitting at a desk, head down, pencil in hand; piece of cake.
Standing before my instructors and their superiors, hoping to showcase my techniques and manage recitations without blunder or falter…so different.
Somehow I’ve made it through my yellow, green and high green belts without throwing up or passing out; although every time either scenario could play out.
I completely appreciate the importance of testing. It’s grace under pressure. One needs to remain composed and able to respond to any situation. Testing definitely teaches that.
Testing aside…let me expound upon my greatest love…sparring!
It’s the most fun ever! No, really, like EVER!
It’s not mean people trying to hurt each other. It’s like a chess match with gloves on.
I’ll admit, my first forays into sparring weren’t pretty.
I earned the labels “bar-room brawler” and “berzerker”. (Yeah…those are not compliments.)
Refinement…that’s what I’m working on now. Targeting; instead of winging it.
Watching and waiting and predetermining what my opponent will do.
It’s been an amazing and transformative year. I’m so grateful for the forces that guided me where I am today.
I’m physically and mentally stronger than I’ve been in a long time.
I feel content.