by Nefertiti Karismaida
(Jakarta, Indonesia)

I began my journey on a public place, a green residential square, near a security post, shared by everybody for community use. The venue is shady, full of vegetation, ranging from guava to tropical fruit-bearing plants. The climate is humid during monsoon, but cool during wet season. From eight A.M to ten A.M the weather is mild. We love to have a chat under the hardwood tree. I develop friendship every time I come to this unique “sporting-space”.

My coaches are a young man and two sociable girls, one of them happened to be my classmate. They knew I used to be a shy teenager, a loner who hid a passion to learn self-defense because of a fear of being misfit, until I found courage to accept an invitation to be a junior member. The reason behind my decision to left my nervousness was because of I want to feel what it is like to be able to be in a group surrounded by warm, welcoming people I can trust.

It was difficult to convince my parents. At the start they refused to give me approval. They were afraid if I get hurt. I have a cochlear implant on my right ear to help me improve my perception of sounds (I am partially troubled in hearing since I was seven). It means I cannot get a blow to the head. I kept on begging and explain to them that taekwondo is a gentle martial art and very ethical, besides during a sparring match, the athletes wear protections. Finally they consult my doctor and thanks God he allowed me to try, under a rule that I need to pay attention to free combat. However, my mother is still a little worried. Therefore she accompanied me on my first lesson and at the end she believed what I said.

As months passed by, I grew to be closer to my peers. They taught me a lot about respect, emotion-control, focus, endurance, honesty and most of all, to be confident and never give up. I remember they often comforted me when I got tired: “Imagine you are on a test. It will be more exhausting” or “You can do it! Shout out loud in your mind that you will overcome any challenge!”

I love the way they gave me step-by-step guidance, especially for mental and physical fitness. They motivated me to go beyond my limitations. For example, they would ask me to do drills: running backward and forward, jumping 25 X, do flexibility exercises, stand with only one foot for at least a minute, also they occasionally requested me to watch how certain blocks should be applied in a real fight. They are sure that even a small leap is necessary to build skills. They build me tough!

Now, my biggest problem is to differentiate momtong ap chagi and eolgol ap chagi. I am familiar with the theory that momtong means an attack to stomach/belly and eolgol means strike above the opponent’s body, but I need to be aware of their actual heights. I need to stay calm, not too hasty and not easily panicked. I need to put forth power before speed.

Deb's Reply

Hi Nefertiti

Sounds like taekwondo is helping you in ways you never dreamed possible. Stay calm, take baby steps and keep turning up for training and you'll be amazed where you end up.

Deb :-)

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