When people hear that I am a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, I always laugh in shock on their faces as they take in the information. It’s funny that I tend to downplay how hard I worked for my rank, and every time I remember how difficult it was, I shock myself.
I trained Taekwondo at Victory Martial Arts at a young age and learned a wide variety of life lessons; respect, honesty, self-esteem and communication are just a few of the things I had to memorize. Taekwondo made me feel incredibly strong – it made me faster, smarter, and made me want to be the superhero I thought I could never be. It filled me with a confidence that made me feel like I was on a cloud nine, and I took that attitude with me in my adult years. The virtues I learned there kept me alive and allowed me to resist; I have never been so grateful for such a sport.
One thing that I have come to understand just a few years after quitting is that this style of martial arts has become incredibly competitive over the years. When I was training, there were practice matches almost every day and local tournaments were held at our school. We would compete in subcategories such as forms, sparring, and breakout. Our practice matches would be watched by high ranking people and only by their judgment, but nowadays technology has been installed so that contact with the chest or head is detected by a machine and the appropriate points are given. . I’ve never had the luxury to experience such sophisticated technology, but it’s great to hear that talented martial artists will get the points they deserve during matches.
On statewide tournament days, hundreds of students gathered at a huge site to compete against each other based on school and district. There they would compete in the aforementioned subcategories and end up with a brutal physical test. 25 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, 40 kicks on one leg and 40 on the other, a mile run over scorching concrete in the middle of a Texan summer – it was all standard. In domestic competitions, however, the scores would be around the 90s – sometimes even hundreds – if you were fast enough or strong enough. Worst of all was the fact that this test took place immediately after we had spent hours fighting, playing and breaking boards.
Taekwondo was brutal, and it was so beautiful. Never before have I felt more alive. Even now, as I train and study Kung Fu, nothing compares to my glory days as a show dog for Victory Martial Arts. I love what I do as a martial artist and wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Even though I run everyday, work out at the gym, and dance in any open studio I can find, the thrill of being a top-ranked martial artist still runs through my veins.
I highly recommend the wide world of martial arts to anyone who has ever thought about signing up or considering getting involved in a sport. It’s more than just a way to fight – it teaches wonderful life lessons and it makes you a much stronger and resilient person. I wouldn’t be who I am without it, and honestly, if I could do it all over again, I would.
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