by Mary Sudul, Chosun Black Belt Instructor
I began slowly, as all white belts do, though I threw myself whole-heartedly into my training. My 6th Dan Master, Doug Cook, offers classes nearly throughout the day and I am able to take advantage of numerous daytime classes while my children are at school. I try to train a minimum of 4 classes per week and frequently train more often than that. Taekwondo became a pursuit that I happily MAKE the time for even though I sweat.
I didn’t want to over-tax myself in the beginning and end up burning out and quitting. So while I did push myself, I tried to be aware of my limitations at all times to avoid too much muscle soreness and injury. One of my main challenges is a lack of flexibility. Though my upper body can be fairly loose, my leg muscles and tendons always seem to be tight. Master Cook begins every class with a comprehensive stretching regime that takes about 20 minutes. I notice a big difference in my flexibility because of this. I will never be able to do a split, but my side kicks are getting higher and higher.
Despite my care, I did suffer a few minor injuries in my early months of training. I clearly remember one Saturday morning class when I was a green belt, I landed awkwardly after a jumping round kick and my knee twisted and buckled under me. I was carried off the floor that day. Luckily, no serious damage was done, but it took more than six months before I felt comfortable trying that kick again.