Taekwondo......everything I'd hoped and a whole lot more

by Nathan Canavan
(Burnley, Lancashire)

An early pic. I'm a blue tag now.

An early pic. I'm a blue tag now.

Hi Everyone,

I started Taekwondo training about a year ago. Here's my story so far.

I was always fascinated by martial arts. Even when I was a young child, If there was a combat scene in a film or on TV, I was mesmerised. I grew up watching the films of the likes of Jean Claude Van Damme and when it came to kids TV, Power Rangers was a firm favourite of mine.

I was amazed at the level of control and power these martial artists had. I wanted to learn to do what they did (c'mon, what kid doesn't want to be a superhero, heh?).

However, It wasn't as easy as that, because my father only saw it as "learning to fight", and firmly believed that it would be a bad move. So all I could really do was imagine what it would be like.

At the age of 24, I was dealing with some terrible depression and to tell you the truth, life for me had just ceased to have meaning. As far as martial arts goes, I had this misconception that 24 was too late to start, but taekwondo had always appealed to me. Somehow, I found myself on a very good website (taekwondo-training.com if you're interested), which encouraged me to take that chance I'd been waiting so long for.

I looked for a club, and before I knew it I was standing in baggy pants and a T-shirt practicing our club basic and kicking targets like there was no tomorrow. I hurt like hell the next day, but I knew that it was worth it. I felt different. I felt......happy. And that was a big deal for me at the time.

So I tore into my training. I practiced Il Jang at home (with the help of youtube) until I had it memorized, and I double graded to yellow belt because of how fast I was learning!

For me, the greatest feeling in the world is when you realise you're able to do something you never could before. Sometimes the drills can seem tedious and repetitive.....until one day you go for a challenging kick and pull it off with little effort. That feeling, right there! That's incredible!

Well, somehow I've survived to 5th Kup (blue tags) and I've learned so much so far. And I've still so much to learn. I compete for the first time this November (I have left it for too long, i feel. It's about time!)

If there's one piece of advice I can give any new starter, it's this. Never feel disheartened by the abilities of the higher grades. Be patient and these skills will come to you soon enough. One of the best quotes I've heard on the subject:

"A black belt is simply a white belt who never gave up". So true.

In any case, I have found a new direction. I am no longer prone to depression like I was a year ago. I have become physically and mentally stronger. For the first time in what feels like forever, I really do feel that I can take control of my life and become anything I set out to be. I haven't felt like that since I was a child. And all this in a year. What's the next year of training got in store? Who knows? But it can't be bad.

Anyway, I could go on forever about my experiences, but I'll leave it at that for now. Maybe I'll post again after the competition (and hopefully have an up to date picture where I'm not still a yellow belt. :-)

Take care,

5th Kup

Deb's Reply

Hi Nathan

Thanks for sharing and being so honest about your martial arts journey. You will help others so much with your story.

It's a well known fact that all forms of exercise help depression, but it's certainly my experience that martial arts are doubly effective. First you get the positive effects of exercise, and secondly you get the gains in self-confidence and self-esteem that come from over-coming the difficult hurdles that taekwondo puts in front of you.

I guess you know you are now entering the tough section of the Kup grades. But the good news is that all you need to do is keep kicking and within a couple of years you'll wearing your black belt and smiling as you realise you're now that 'white belt who never gave up!'

And yes, please send us a photo :-)

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Dec 25, 2010
Thank you
by: Nathan Canavan

Thank you for all the kind comments. It really IS amazing how martial arts can change your whole perspective on things. I still need to write that update (along with picture) but here's pretty much an outline of what's changed. I graded to 4th Kup (blue belt) on the 18th of December. Unfortunately, I didn't make the competition I mentioned (with good reason. My father passed away a couple of weeks before and I was in no fit state).
I will be competing in March for the first time, so I have a few months to polish my abilities.
Anyway, Merry Christmas everybody.

Ghamsa Hamnida.


Oct 08, 2010
by: Anonymous

Your story was really great, my husband and I started TaeKwonDo when we were 31 and 32 and it was the best decision we've ever made! Good luck on your journey!!!

Oct 08, 2010
by: kevin kreckel

thanks for sharing your journey!
i`m glad you found what gives your life meaning in taekwondo!
you are in great company there sir.
i too had many tribulations in my life``alcholholism
depression and the like,and if it weren't for
taekwondo i don't believe id have gotten through it!
the key to getting through depression is find something that make you feel great``well you did!
thanks again
its a wonderful story with a
great ending``Or a new beginning!

Oct 07, 2010
Hi nathan
by: Marcus

Nice nathan, I can say that Taekwondo has helped me develop and mature. It has always been a positive impact. Keep up the good work! Keep us posted.

Oct 07, 2010
Great post Nathan
by: Neil

Hi Nathan

This is a great post and one which will help lots of people.

Good luck with your journey and good luck with the competition.

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