A couple of years later, it happened. I found myself signed into a 3 year contract for TKD. What the... Damn sneaky Ninja bastards. I had originally done a 1 year contract, because I wasn't planning to be there for the long haul. I didn't care about getting my black belt. I just wanted a taste of TKD and then I was backing out. But about a month after I signed up, hubby's contract came up for renewal and we were told that if I changed my contract to a 3 year we'd save money (Jason always signs on for the longer time because he's way more committed than I am). Well hell. Fine. Sell my soul to the marital arts devil. Besides, I'm Asian and there's, like, some ancient Asian law that says we all have to learn some kind of "Kung-Fu." And give the peace sign in pictures... but that's another story for another time.
Anyhoo - despite my declaration that I was not black belt bound, I suddenly (2 years and change into my contract) found myself preparing for my black belt test. I figured I'd come this far, I might as well ride it out. Part of preparing for the test was writing an essay about TKD. The topic was pretty broad. Since I like to think I'm a better writer than I am a martial artist (trust me, NO coordination here), I was seriously pissed when I turned my paper in... and that was that. Not one word more was ever said about that glorious work. So, even though it's gonna make this post a bit long, I wanted to share it with you all, since it probably was just tossed into the trash can. [In case you're wondering - I no longer do TKD. But hubby is still going strong. He's currently a 4th degree black belt.]
My Tae Kwon Do Journey
I truthfully began my Tae Kwon Do journey about 11 years ago when my “at the time” boyfriend began taking classes in college… I just didn’t know that I had started this adventure yet. The boyfriend would share things he was learning in class – explaining the art and demonstrating moves. After graduating college, the boyfriend became my husband. He was still taking Tae Kwon Do classes; I still hadn’t started, but my journey was definitely continuing.
A couple of years into our marriage I started taking the cardio kickboxing class that United Tae Kwon Do School offered. I needed something fun that would help me get in (and stay in) shape. As I grew as a cardio kickboxing student (as in, I finally stopped wheezing like an asthmatic within the first 5 minutes of class), I guess Master Partridge saw some kind of potential in me because he began taunting me with “I’m going to get you in a uniform.” My response was to laugh and wonder if he had taken one too many roundhouse kicks to the head. I had no desire to take Tae Kwon Do. Oh, sure – I wanted to do the cool moves that you see on TV and I wanted to learn how to break boards with my hands and feet. But I wasn’t coordinated enough to try. Trust me, I’m the girl who trips over my own feet… when I’m just standing still!
Finally, after 4 years into my stint as a cardio kick boxer, my encouragement had grown enough (not to mention my will power had been diminished enough) that I decided to sign up for Tae Kwon Do. Since it was close to the end of 2007, I decided that I would start 2008 off with a bang (or a kick, in this case).
I remember when I approached Master Partridge to tell him that I wanted to schedule my first private lesson, the grin that broke out on his face was clearly that of the cat who caught the canary. We scheduled my first private lesson for a Thursday, but that lesson never happened. As I was waiting patiently at the back of the Dojang for my private lesson to begin, Master Partridge decided I’d been around the school long enough and had gained enough knowledge to just dive in headfirst. I guess he was right – while I did need extra guidance on some things, I was able to pick up most of the exercises. Over the next few weeks, I found that I was truly enjoying Tae Kwon Do!
When it was time for my first stripe test, you wouldn’t believe the heart palpitations I had! I had been out of school long enough so that the word “test” made me nervous. What if I didn’t get my stripe? I’d be the laughing stock of the school. Not to mention my husband (who at this time was a 3rd degree black belt) would probably disown me. I was scared that people would say “How is Jason so good at Tae Kwon Do but his wife… yikes.” The day of the stripe test came and I survived. I was able to save face, not be disowned by my husband, and show people that maybe I could do this after all. In fact, I think I was more excited than all the young children who were also testing that day.
After passing the second and third stripe tests, it was time for my first graduation. Again with the heart palpations! This was going to be worse than the stripe tests I’d been through. Not only would the crowd be bigger, but also now I had to do the cool board break technique I’d learned. Just as with the stripe tests, I was the most excited person there. Do you know how unnerving it is when you see a seven year old get his certificate and act like it’s no big deal, but then you see an adult (a.k.a me) get her certificate and she’s got a big, cheesy grin plastered on her face and she’s giving a thumbs up to her husband, who’s behind the camera like a proud parent?
About halfway through my first year of Tae Kwon Do, I had a minor breakdown. My self-confidence plummeted a bit for reasons I still haven’t figured out. I again began thinking “I can’t do this. I’m clumsy; I’m butchering this art form; I have no clue what I’m doing. Tae Kwon Do is not for me.” The thing that made me stick with it was my husband. When I had told him that I was going to start taking Tae Kwon Do I told him not to get his hopes up about me becoming a black belt. I was going to try it, but there were no promises about me going far. He said that was all that he could ask of me. Even though there was this understanding between us, I felt that I would disappoint him or somehow hurt his feelings if I gave up on Tae Kwon Do. He loves the art so much. It is such an ingrained part of his body, mind, and soul. I was honored that he wanted to share this part of his life with me and I didn’t want to let him down. So, I persevered with my classes.
Finally an internal light bulb came on and things started coming into perspective. I wasn’t the only student who sometimes felt incompetent. Everyone has those moments. I even learned that I wasn’t the only one who had had some kind of mini-breakdown. I talked to some of my classmates and learned that others had taken sabbaticals here and there just to refocus. Learning that I wasn’t alone helped me a great deal. I was able to get back on track with my training and even began really enjoying it again.
On April 17, 2009, I learned that there was a strong possibility that I would be eligible to test for my black belt that coming October. Holy cow, I had ONLY six months to get prepared for this momentous occasion. Knowing that such a milestone would be coming up lit a fire under me. It made me really want to get focused and push myself… do whatever I had to do to prove to myself that I could do this.
Now, here I am one month away from my testing date. I’ve been through a couple of the prep classes and survived. This leads me to believe that I’ll be able to survive on the actual test day. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’ve got a million thoughtsthoughts running through my mind about this test. But as I’ve learned on my Tae Kwon Do journey, I’ll do the best I can and that’s all that anyone can expect from me. Tae Kwon Do is not always easy – just like life. As I do in life, I’m going to have rough moments, but those moments will be outweighed by the good ones. Will my Tae Kwon Do journey come to an end once I’ve gotten my black belt? No. That day will just mark another mile that I’ve traveled on my journey through life.
|Master Partridge tying on my new belt|