Taekwondo In China
by Chris Knight
(Jilin Province, China)
Hi from China
I teach and work at a university in NE China. My story starts about three years ago. A friend (fellow teacher) and I had gone to a barbecue. We ate our fill, had a couple of beers, and decided to grab a few bottles and watch a couple of movies at home.
We got back as far as the university entrance gate. I was in front. It was dark. Somebody shoved something in my face, and instinctively, I batted their hand away. Suddenly, I was on the ground with four men jumping on my head, kicking me in the ribs and the temples, and yelling at me in Chinese.
A couple walked by, looked at what was happening, and kept going. A student also saw what was going on, but was ordered not to do anything.
Who were these four men?... University Security Guards. What did they do? I found out later, that the object they shoved in my face was a thermometer. They were trying to take my temperature to see if I had H1N1 !! They didn't ask. They didn't say anything. They just shoved this ... thing ... into my face ... in the dark ... and I was expected to know what they were doing!
Two hours later, in my apartment with torn clothes and crusting blood all over my face and head, I'm yelling at the university Foreign Affairs officer about lawsuits, my embassy and everything, and I can feel my blood pressure topping out, as well as see little red spots floating in front of my eyes.
The next morning, I started seriously looking at trying to find some sort of martial arts training for defense.
This is China. More and more foreigners are getting attacked every year. Some actually die. I wasn't about to become that sort of statistic.
Unfortunately, since my Chinese language skills are practically non-existent, I didn't find much much in the way of training where the instructor spoke English. Nothing, as a matter of fact. So I gave up.
Fast forward to September, 2011. I'm getting lazier. Fatter. My height is 5' 6". My weight is 171 lbs. I've got a huge beer gut. My blood pressure is around 166/140. I'm bordering on becoming a diabetic. My wife tells me I have to do something to lose weight. I say, "Yes dear", and have another swig of my beer.
Later, I figure out that, yeah, my wife is right. I've got to do something. I'm killing myself. I think back to three years ago, when the guards kicked the living you-know-what out of me. Ever since that time, I've been going downhill. I vow to do something about it, so I start jogging. My uni has a 400m track. It was slow going at first. My first run was 200 metres. Halfway around the track. I started getting better. Going farther ... faster. But I didn't feel right. I didn't feel that I was improving. I needed more.
I found out that my university had a Taekwondo club. They met every weekend in the gym. The price was right, and since it was being done right at my uni, Some of the people would speak English and be able to help me out. It turns out that hardly anyone spoke English. Most of the students were, and still are, speech and hearing impaired students (It makes for a really quiet class!!), however, there are a couple with some basic English language skills. I figured that I could help them with their English, and they could try to explain things so that I could learn Taekwondo.
Well, as with all best laid plans, it didn't quite work out that way. The English consisted of, "do this", as this 22-year old young man dropped effortlessly into the splits, and, "You can do it", as he sat on his heels and then laid down flat on his back with his legs underneath him.
I'll be 50-years old in 8 months. My body doesn't do those things anymore!!
I'm very happy to say, however, that in December, I passed my yellow belt test. Thanks to Taekwondo, my blood pressure is down to a much more manageable 135/85 (which is very good for somebody approaching 50), and I have lost almost 20 lbs in weight.
I feel fantastic. I can walk up the seven flights of stairs to my apartment and not be totally out of breath, and I feel more and more confident about myself every day. I picked up a couple of kicking targets, and there isn't a day that goes by when my wife doesn't grab them and say, "Ok, time for you to practice your kicking". If I'm too busy, or haven't got the time, she tells me I'm too lazy (LOL).
I must thank you for your website, Deb. Because of the language barrier in my classes, I have to come here a lot to learn those things I don't pick up in class. Things like hip stretches/strengthening. Foot placement. Chambering, etc. I learn the physical stuff from my class, but I learn the theory from your website.
When we were learning the first poomse for our yellow belt test, I had no idea what we were doing. I came here, downloaded the video and practiced it over and over again until I got it perfect. Without your site, I don't think I would have passed my belt test. Thank you very, very much.
Taekwondo is a wonderful way to get, and stay, in shape, as well as build confidence, stamina, and self-determination. Thank you Deb, for a wonderful site. Keep putting more information on it. Guys like me need it.
Changchun, Jilin Province, ChinaDeb's Reply
Hey Chris - awesome story - thanks so much for sharing. Congratulations on your great progress down the path to a healthy mind and body.
Thanks also for your kind comments about the site - it's a hobby I spend time on it when I can - but my daughter Leah
is showing interest in writing some articles - she's 13 now - watch this space.
Thanks again Chris