I was 46 years old, a confirmed lifelong bachelor. At 365 pounds, I had only one goal in life, to outlive my Father so he wouldn’t have to attend my funeral.
Sound gloomy? You’re right, but that was all about to change. I met a wonderful woman, 25 years younger than me, and living on another continent, yet 4 years later we married.
I was revitalized, and promised her I would last 50 more years. I started working out and lost 47 pounds… but then I developed type II diabetes. I couldn’t eat the same things that helped me lose weight. I didn’t have the drive to make myself workout as I needed. I was going to the Bally’s health club, but kept steadily gaining weight. I ballooned up to 381 pounds, couldn’t tie my own shoes, back and feet hurt all the time. I was truly desperate.
Then one day when I was signing in at the health club, I saw some members wearing karate uniforms, and I inquired as to what the deal was. They told me Bally’s offered something they called “Total Martial Arts” or TMA. This basically meant they had Taekwondo and Hapkido classes.
My youngest brother had started taking Taekwondo lessons a year earlier and had been telling me all the benefits he experienced from it. So I took a chance.
By this time I was 53 years old, a diabetic with a bad back, sore feet, that couldn’t tie his own shoes. It doesn’t sound promising does it? But I had a couple things going for me.
First - brute strength… I can still incline leg press 900 pounds, so at least I could carry my great weight!
Second - nothing ever came easy to me in life, and I would rather fight than quit.
And 3rd and most important, I had a wife that loved me despite my flaws, and she encouraged and inspired me.
The first 2 weeks of class were the toughest in my life, my wife literally helped me drag myself into the swimming pool and hot tub (thank God the class was at a health club). Where she held me as my body tried to recover.
From that point, things slowly started getting better. I was twice as old as most the people in the class, twice as heavy, but they treated me as an equal, and expressed that they were impressed that a guy my age, and in my condition, was sticking it out, even as hard as it was.
I found a bond of camaraderie with my classmates, something I had not expected. We were teammates, and helped teach and encourage each other, like sports teams I played for in my youth. I was really having fun.
The masters employed by Bally’s are great, not just some guys that earned a black belt and decided he could make some money teaching. Master Choi (our Master) is from South Korea, a 7th Dan in Taekwondo and 5th Dan in Hapkido. 37 years experience, he has a Masters degree, a teaching certificate and a coaching license. He taught sparring teams at Universities in South Korea and later taught sparring and combat tactics for the South Korean military. Equally important, he is good natured, and with a great sense of humor.
That fact that he is over 40, has given him the wisdom to know that I can’t do everything as well as a 25 year old student, yet he pushes and encourages me to more than I ever thought possible. The one thing I still posses is great power, and now, a year after I first joined I can kick as hard as anyone in the class… and harder than most.
Master Choi also gave me a goal, to win the local power breaking championship. He and a 2nd degree black belt taught me techniques, and helped train me for an upcoming tournament.
November 7th 2009 I won the grand championship! I was the oldest competitor yet the lowest ranking belt. I broke 20 1 inch thick pine boards with an elbow strike.
You can see Master Choi, with a big smile come into the picture at the end of the video…and if you listen close, you can hear my wife laughing at the end.
So a year later, I have lost 41 pounds and 6 inches off my waistline. I am now a brown belt, no back pain, feet no longer hurt, the cardio workout from class, and my medication has my diabetes under control… and I can tie my own shoes! My endurance and muscle tone make me feel 10 years younger. In fact things have gone so well that my wife has joined our class as well.
I hope you enjoyed my story, it is really true. I am living proof on the health and mental benefits of taking taekwondo. If I can do it, you can too.
So look around, look at more than one school. Find a Master that you like, because the right master makes all the difference.
Hey David - I am smiling so much as I write this. Your story and video have really lifted me this morning!
You make so many good points in your story it's hard to pick out just a couple, but here are the ones that stand out for me.
Firstly your determination to succeed shines out of the screen as I read. And I think determination and perseverance are the most important things you need to get you where you want to go.
Secondly you talk about your friends in the Dojang and the support from your wife. No-one can walk the taekwondo path alone - we all need friends at our side and clearly you have that.
And finally you emphasize the importance of having a good master. Finding the right person to show you the path is the most important decision a beginner can make. And clearly Master Choi is the right master for you!
Congratulations on your great achievements so far and keep in touch.