"What I have learned in Taekwondo"
I was first introduced to Tae Kwon Do in June of 2001. I didn’t know anything about this art. I had only heard of Karate and my knowledge of that was limited to what I had seen in Hollywood’s creations of martial arts movies. I remember having the desire to learn Karate when I was young. I wanted to be able to protect myself and the people I cared about. I didn’t know how to go about getting the training and I wasn’t one to let my dreams be known. It has just been in recent years that I discovered my dreams are worth pursuing and as long as I am alive, it is never too late. I can’t go back and change the past, but I can create a better future.
Since I began this journey, I have gained much knowledge, but have yet to become wise. I have realized that wisdom comes, not just from the accumulation of knowledge, but more from the appropriate application of knowledge to life. Tae Kwon Do has come to mean more to me than I ever imagined it could. I enjoy the physical activity involved, but value the philosophy behind this art. Though I have yet to achieve harmony with the universe, I am gaining a better understanding of what that means. The combination of the linear movements of Japan’s Karate and the circular movements of China’s Kung Fu creates a beautiful flow of motion that, when performed with the mastery of mental focus and spiritual expression, is awe-inspiring to watch. It is an incredible challenge to learn. Physically, Tae kwon Do means a development of strength, grace, balance, coordination, speed, reaction, flexibility, endurance, and cardiovascular conditioning. Mentally, Tae Kwon Do means perseverance, never giving up. It means an unrelenting pursuit of my personal best as well as the development of a positive mental attitude, self control, and clarity of thought. I have found that my mind must, not only be connected to what my body is doing, but must also be focused. Spiritually, this art encourages peace and contentment. It is important to appreciate each present moment and experience it to its fullest. The pursuit of goals is great and necessary, but not at the expense of what is here and now. I cannot focus on what is behind me or too far ahead without missing what is right in front of me. I have taken a great interest in meditation. I have a strong desire to be able to remain calm within, no matter what is happening around me. The meditation helps tremendously with stress, slowing my pulse, controlling my breathing, and overcoming a variety of physical and mental obstacles. I have heard it said by doctors and psychologists that a person’s character is built between the ages of one and six. That may be true to an extent, but I believe character can be improved later in life with spiritual enlightenment. All in all, to me, Tae Kwon Do means a continuous effort to become better, today, than I was yesterday. It offers me a constant challenge to focus on. It is a very personal journey that I feel blessed to have had the honor of sharing with some of the most amazing people I have ever met.
I appreciate every belt level that I have accomplished and believe each step toward my black belt has been full of valuable lessons in life. As I progressed in my journey, I learned patience by being given opportunities where it was needed. That is also the way I have been developing my self-discipline and perseverance. Everyone has challenges in life. Everyone has pain to overcome. Everyone has weaknesses and points of vulnerability. I believe this art is teaching me how to rise above circumstances of life and get the most out of opportunities presented to me. I ran into some difficult hurdles and suffered a multitude of minor setbacks. I developed a daily routine of attitude checks and meditations that help me in my efforts to keep things in perspective. I have kept an exercise schedule at home as well as in the dojang. I train harder at home. There were times when my body