You know, starting to wonder if I should just turn this into a Taekwondo blog. It seems to be all I blog about these days. My leg is still in agony, and made the decision that if it’s not down to tolerable by tomorrow, I’m making an appointment for physio that I can’t afford financially, but may very have to afford physically.
Anyway, today is the birthday of the Korean martial art (well, by the time I posted this, yesterday was its birthday, but I digress). Been around since 1955, created by Grandmaster Choi Hong Hi (9th Degree), who decided that the Korean army needed their own martial art after training in both Taek Kyon and Karate. Unlike many martial arts, Taekwondo isn’t particularly pretty to watch (which is why there’s no movie called ‘The Taekwondo Kid’) but it’s difficult to beat in terms of power and effectiveness.
You can tell I went digging round the net for that little blurb, but felt that since it is actually the anniversary of something that takes up a big part of my life, I should at least try to commemorate it. Sadly, at least round here not many people seem to realise it even is a martial art – often when I say I practice, they mistake it for Tai Chi – I’m sure that’s an excellent art, but not what I’m practising.
(I’ve mentioned this before, in my post about life achievements, so bear with me)
I can honestly say that I always wanted to learn a martial art, but never quite got round to doing so. Always assumed I would go into karate, and I came very close to making that leap. In second year of university, I started looking for schools, even got to the front door of a karate class…and just couldn’t bring myself to walk inside. I backed away and decided that I had too much on my plate, I wouldn’t be any good, the building itself wasn’t very welcoming, any excuse would do. For the next few years, I just pushed the idea out of my head.
It wasn’t until my last year of university that the idea came to mind again. I’d been rejected from the JET Exchange program (teaching English in Japan), and although they never said why, it seemed clear to me that I didn’t have a lot of extracurricular to offer. Outside of anime and amateur cosplay construction, I had nothing. On top of which, my only main source of exercise was swimming, and the council had decided they were shutting down my local pool within the month.
With this in mind, I happened upon a building on the same road as the pool – one I passed all the time. The third floor had an advertisement for a Taekwondo school…and I stepped in. Started for 3 months, and then after I graduated and moved home had to stop for a year since I couldn’t get to the classes. When I finally got a job in town, I started up again and have never looked back since.
Ironically, although I didn’t know it at the time, I ended up carrying a family tradition when I chose Taekwondo. It’s something of my family’s unofficial self defence choice, all of my generation have attempted to practice it, and 3 of my cousins are black belts – one working as an instructor. Admittedly at the moment I’m the only one (minus the instructor) currently training, and I only discovered this after I’d been training about a year (not very close with that side of the family), so it was an interesting coincidence to find out. And although I’ve never done any other art, I can’t help but feel that the random choice ended up being the best choice I could have made. My teacher is excellent, and Taekwondo appeals to me in ways I didn’t expect.
I’m not a graceful girl. Teachers themselves have admitted that I was one of the most uncoordinated people they ever had through the doors, and my survival instincts are nonexistent. I like simple instructions and to be direct whenever possible – window dressing is unnecessary. Taekwondo gives that to me – it’s not a pretty fighting style – its design to hurt and whenever possible, look intimidating. Even though I’m not particularly skilled, and there is still the tenants and terminology to remember, it was designed for military use, and the discipline behind it means there’s a bluntness I can relate to. On top of which, the patterns, though I curse every time I have to try and learn a new one, have saved me from many a stressful situation. Running through them, mind focused, allows me to relax and calm down. Got a few weird looks when I was at my part time job running through them in the staff corridor on break, but they got me through the day!
Although I’ve often wondered about looking up other martial arts just to see if they fit me better, I’m not entirely sure I could. If I took to any other art easier than I did Taekwondo, it would be because Taekwondo spent 2 years hammering coordination and repetition into my bones, ripping apart muscle and having me collapse in bed night after night trying to get the movements right. For all that I complain and whine about classes and my abysmal improvement rate, or the dread I get when its time for class certain days, I hate the idea of not continuing even more.
I have even, somewhat subconsciously, promised to keep my middle back free of tattoos in its honour. Because I want to get the tenants tattooed there should I ever make it to black belt. That’s how much I want to stay with Taekwondo.
So happy birthday ‘Foot Fist Art’, and may there be many more successful years in your future, and mine.