What a long and mysterious journey it has been
by Tiago Costa
I first started Taekwondo when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Even then, every older kid picked on me everywhere I went. Probably, I just have one of those faces that says beat me up!
I also had some issues relating my psychological stability, because at that age I lost someone that was very dear to me and took it somewhat badly, and teachers and doctors alike agreed that martial arts could be a great way for me to find my own balance, and get fit at the same time (yes I admit it I had some weight issues).
The Martial Arts world didn't seem strange to me. My father was a big supporter, he had had his share of martial arts practice in his days (a very skilled nunchaku user if I might add) but in Taekwondo I was the first in my family. I grew very fond of it, and my companions grew fond of me. I've had some tears (I guess every little kid has them) but the joys I also had are just too numerous for me to name just one.
I remember winning my first tournament (and gold medal), I was Orange-belted at the time. I fought two qualifying matches and one final. The referee gave the victory to my opponent first, but right there he undid his mistake and lifted my arm. I felt strange, I wasn't sure if I had won at all, until I walked back to where my team was.
My dad and a cousin of ours (father of one of my teammates) ran to me screaming, telling that I had won and they held me. I can barely describe the feeling.
After that I've had my ups and downs, but competition aside, Taekwondo was making the difference in my life. I got thinner, a lot faster, surprisingly flexible. I could do a bandal mondolyo-nako chagui amaizingly fast (this last one remains my favourite Taekwondo kick!) I graded up to brown belt, got a referee D grade course (because of my age). However things in my academy weren't the best, there were a lot of young kids who didn't have the perception of disciplinary boundaries. Our master seemed to be split between his two schools and also seemed to be loosing interest, practicing there was becoming harder, but we held onto it.
Students came and gone and a few of us stuck to our passion, and did our best. The elder and most graduated students lead the training in our Sabonim's absence and we all got better. By the time I got to my best shape ever, I had a back problem and had to quit. I was older and people didn't seem as supportive as they were. I got by through times as I could, without practicing.
Today I'm writing this with some emotion, because I now realize that I am how I am today because of Taekwondo. I got by through some hard times, and I took blow after blow and got back up to my feet, like the gum-tree. All thanks to Taekwondo. Along the way from all the things it taught me and that I hold on dearly to, I've learned that it is the Journey that matters, not the destination, for what I certainly don't know where I will be tomorrow or even later on today. All it matters is how face this moment, if I take the bad with the good and try to make the best of it on every single fight and every single struggle, I might come out with my arm raised by the referee again.
I'm 22 years old now. I'm still pretty young and seems like the opportunity to start kicking again is at hand (so to speak). This time with one of my old friends, one of the elder students from my old Taekwondo school who now has his own academy.
I'll do my best to jump onto this opportunity and kick away whatever obstacles comes in my way (Tae), I'll do my best to crush with my fist the difficulties of life (Kwon), and this time I know how the way (Do).
Thank you so much for the website, and for allowing me to share my story.
Best wishes and kicks
"Kicked down, but never defeated"Deb's reply
Thanks so much for sharing your story - it's very honest and illustrates perfectly the ups and downs of life and martial arts.
Good luck with starting taekwondo again - let us know how you get on - we're rooting for you!