Perseverance is for adults too! And courage….
I’d like to share some more of my personal taekwondo journey. In my previous blog I mentioned what I love about adult martial arts. Now I’d like to comment on some of the low points in my taekwondo journey.
I almost quit when I was a green belt. We started taking taekwondo classes when the school was just opened, so I didn’t get to see any adults sparring. So I had no idea what to expect from sparring. Sparring with the ladies was fun, but sparring with the men, not so much. Some of those guys just really had no idea how hard their kicks were. 2 weeks after getting my gear, Mr. X kicked me in the face…hard. Now in his defense he has only one eye, so his depth perception is off. But still…the whole left side of my face swelled up and turned all sorts of colors. People thought I’d gotten in a car wreck. I thought long and hard about returning to class. But I am glad I did, though I must admit I hated sparring. I groaned inwardly every time the teacher said, “Get your gear on.” But some time during purple belt, I actually started having a bit of fun with sparring. And I will admit mine was one of the worst sparring accidents I’ve seen. But really where else does a middle aged women get to work on developing courage? Having to spar a guy you know is stronger than you, and trust their self-control develops courage. And those occasional (and they really should be occasional), “he hit me too hard” moments build within an inner strength, a pride and the knowledge that, I can endure a whole lot more than I think I can. Remember last week’s blog? Taekwondo practice pushes us outside our comfort zone?
Next up taekwondo tournaments! I’m being really transparent here. Competition really is not my thing. I’d get nervous for testing, but that is pass/fail. But at tournaments you get a grade! You get compared to other martial artists! For tournaments I really got nervous. But my kids were into tournaments so we kept going and I forced myself to compete. But really I was competing against myself. My first goal was to not get a score of 2 ½; I wanted 3’s or better. Notice my goal was not to win. I traditionally got a spirit award. I finally decided I wanted to be Miss Congeniality in my ring=) When I finally started getting 3’s I changed my goal to at least get one point when sparring against others. I didn’t want to lose 5-0 anymore. The reason I started competing in Free Design was to keep from getting spirit awards. When I was Sr. First degree, I’d gotten a 2 ½ in forms at a National’s (sigh) and thought “by George I’m going to win a round of sparring. I don’t want another spirit award.” And I did win a round, in fact I won first place! Yay! When kids get sad at tournaments because they didn’t do as well as they hoped, I get to tell them my story of perseverance. Keep competing; keep practicing, and you will improve!
I can honestly say, even through the low points, I am so glad that I’ve continued my journey and didn’t quit at green belt! This journey aspect of taekwondo is one of the parts of martial arts study that makes it such a unique sport, a lifetime sport for everyone. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to continue on the journey. As long as we keep on coming to class and practicing martial arts, we are growing stronger, inside and out.