The benefits of tournaments

by David Fiscus
(Cypress, Tx)

Gold medal breaking

Gold medal breaking

As a older taekwondo (55 yr) student the challenge of quickness and flexibility can be daunting.

I spend 20 to 30 minutes 5 days a week working on my stretching. I'm also a large man, 6 ft 2 inches (187.96 cm) and 325 pounds (147.4 Kg), which poses conditioning problems. I have lost 56 pounds in 2 years, and made dramatic improvements to my conditioning and flexibility.

Our Master encouraged me very early to make a goal of participating in the power breaking event at our semi-annual tournament. I felt that this was one event that my size would be an advantage. I ended up winning the tournament grand championship, and now have become a local legend in power breaking.

But now 2 years into my training, I decided to compete in another event. This is called standard breaking. I had to break 5 boards using different techniques. At this point I am a Black over Red belt. The first technique is a knife hand, the second, a tornado kick, the 3rd a jump front snap kick, then 4 & 5 is a combination front snap kick breaking a board on the way up, and then bring that same leg down in an axe kick smashing a board on the way down. A week before the tournament, I badly sprained my right knee. I didn't know until the day of the tournament if I could compete or not. All week I had applied ice, then a heating pad. The morning of the tournament I decided to give it a try.

In my bracket was a student working on his 3rd Dan, and a great all around martial artist. Another student was a black belt as well. Both of them chose more difficult breaking techniques than mine. Before the competition, I resigned myself to the fact that if I just performed to the best of my abilities, I would go home happy.

During tornado kick, and jump front snap kick, I could barely get off the ground because of my sore knee. But I successfully broke the boards at each stage. My competitors did not successfully break the boards at all stages. So the judges awarded me a gold medal. If I had chosen to not compete in this event, which I faced more skilled competitors than myself, then I would have never felt the joy of being awarded this gold medal.

You can never be sure what will happen during a competition, but if you don't make an attempt, you have no chance to win. I have loaded a video of the event to youtube to share with you. You can see that I don't have the best techniques, you can even see me favoring my sore knee if you look close. But more important you can see the determination in my face to do the best I could.

Deb's Reply

Well done David - loved the video. And of course determination goes a long way in taekwondo and in life!

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