As a parent, one of the hardest things is denying what your child wants short term in exchange for what’s better for them long term. It would be so much easier on our hearts to protect them from failure, shield them from experiences that scare them, and keep them from getting hurt – but the truth is we cannot. One day they will get passed over for an opportunity or promotion they deserve, and eventually someone will break their heart. The good news is, they may also find great joy in something they vowed to never try. All we can really hope for is that we will give them the tools they need to not just succeed, but to thrive. Keep reading for one young man’s story about how taekwondo has changed his life and prepared him for a bright future.
When my parents signed me up for Taekwondo, I didn’t want to do it. I thought that it would be a
waste of time, something where I put in work but got nothing but a tired body out of it. When I
attended my first class, however, I realized that there was more to Taekwondo that met the eye.
You had to be disciplined, coordinated, and hard working. Even so, I only realized what
Taekwondo was really about when I started sparring. I had to be agile, on my feet, and reactive
in order to do well. Before Taekwondo, I wasn’t any of those things. Therefore, it’s no wonder
that when I was a green belt, I had the breath knocked out of me while sparring. After that class,
I realized: Taekwondo is about the pain and the struggle. You have to be brave, mentally strong,
and, above all, resilient. I utilized those principles for the rest of my Taekwondo classes,
whether I got knocked down, punched in the head, or kicked in the solar plexus. Now, fast
forward to the testing to become a Brown Belt: I had to repeat my form during testing. Then, I
learned that there will be obstacles on the way to a Black Belt. You will almost certainly
encounter one of these, and then one has to make a pivotal decision. You can either give up, or
try to get through the obstacle. I decided to keep going, and passed testing. After that testing, 2
things happened: I only had repeat my form 1 more time until the rank of Sr. Red Belt, and I
became a Brown Belt. I was dreading the rank of Brown Belt for a long time, but I finally had to
face the hard reality that came with being a Brown Belt: I had to break boards. I had never
broken boards before, and I didn’t think I could accomplish the task. At first, my misgivings were
right. When I got my first board, which was an Orange-Green Board, I couldn’t break the board
with an Elbow Strike or a Side Kick. I practiced and practiced some more, however, and was
able to break my boards at testing. The next step up was breaking wood boards. I thought these
would be infinitely harder to break than plastic boards, but I was wrong. They were much easier
than any plastic board I had ever broken. Unlike the plastic ones, I broke the wood boards on
my first try. I do not know if that was because of the practice I previously had or if it was related
to the board itself, but in that moment I knew that I could become a Black Belt. The only thing
that could stop me now was myself.
And now, here I am, a Senior Red Belt, about to test for my 1st Degree Probationary Black Belt.
As I have come this far, I have realized what Taekwondo is really about: hard work,
perseverance, and putting forth your best effort.