Taekwondo - Training with the best

by Anthony
(Amherst, NY, USA)

I was 35 years old and 100 pounds overweight when I joined our local taekwondo dojang in May 2010 with my then 5-year-old son. I had been an athlete in my youth, and wanted to get back to that level of fitness again.

Of course, I am a realist as well, and realized that the transformation from a fat, unhealthy, lazy guy into a renewed athlete wasn't going to happen overnight. As with almost every other adult's story I've read on this site, the first two weeks were agony. I woke up most mornings wondering what truck ran over me.

Perseverance paid off, however, and I am now comfortable in my taekwondo skin. A recent visit to the doctor revealed that my blood pressure, cholesterol and heart physiology are those of a man 15 years younger than me.

I regularly attend 5 - 6 classes per week, attend all of the tournaments as a competitor and volunteer official, and participate with my family in the other events like the family picnic and charity fundraising demonstrations. In short, my son and I have become TKD nerds. It's a good thing!

I have also noticed from the stories on this site that many people are discouraged and depressed when seeing other students excel and achieve milestones before they do. That's typical of life and more typical of the microcosm of a taekwondo dojang.

Trust in this fact, folks: Everyone, including the Grandmaster of your school, has had to climb the mountain. We have all had to find the strength to persevere when all we wanted to do was quit. Even those students who seem to have TKD come naturally to them have experienced the desire to just take the easy way out and quit.

One thing that I noticed when I began training was that a man who was a couple of belts higher than me was an amazing practitioner and seemed to have the strongest, most accurate techniques of any student in the school. That, his age being close to mine, and him being WAY better than me made us instant rivals.

Our rivalry hit a higher level when he had to stop training for a few months and I achieved the same belt rank as he. From that point, we fought each other in tournaments and at sparring class and never gave each other any quarter. What was surprising to both of us was that we forged a friendship out of our rivalry and came to understand that as we challenged each other, we both improved our skills.

We made a pact to become training partners and will continue to be partners at least until we achieve first Dan. I recommend that those of you who are having difficulty dealing with not being as proficient as some other students find one of those excellent students and partner up. It helps both of you to be more proficient and better students.

My son and I are currently 3 belt levels from first Dan and should reach that rank in the next 18 months. I'll keep you posted!

Deb's reply

Great story Anthony!

You are so right healthy rivalry will help you achieve so much more than you could achieve training alone.

Good luck - let us know how you travel


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