The day that I knew I had to study Taekwondo was the day that it called to me. I was sitting on the sidelines waiting to drop off Timothy for class and while I sat there, I observed three women doing Koryo. In sync, they moved gracefully and when the form came to a cadence Master Cook said, “Koryo Joombi.” I watched their arms and hands move strongly yet delicately and tears came to my eyes. I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. That was the moment I knew I had to train. After that class, my son Timothy looked at me and said, “Families train, Mommy” and that was all I needed to hear. That very same week, I flew down Main Street with my checkbook in hand and signed up during Spring Fest. Master Cook said that I would remember the day I signed up for the rest of my life because that was the day my life would change. He was right. It was that day that I chose to change and embrace living. Three years ago, I did not realize how greatly Taekwondo would affect my life or how greatly it would change me.
With each belt level came a new level of awakening within me. Taekwondo enabled me to persevere through major life events as well as clean up the clutter in my life. When I was a white belt, I was afraid of getting hurt and of hurting other people. I refused to do a Ho Sin Sool on Olga one day because I thought I was being mean. At white belt Master Cook taught me that I was worth defending and because of it, the day I got my yellow was one of the most important days of my life. I realized that I could do anything that I put my mind to.
At each belt level I learned something new. At yellow belt, I learned to listen to my body, respect it, and give it what it needs. At orange belt, I learned to have courage in the face of adversity. I had to re-prioritize my life and Taekwondo offered me a safe place where I could just “be”. At green belt, I learned humility, to swallow my pride, and was reminded that courtesy is needed through all things. At blue belt, I started to finally transform physically and actually look like I was doing Taekwondo and not just flailing around. At purple belt, I grew confidence. However, it wasn't until red and brown belt that I was challenged the most.
At red belt, I found out I was pregnant and had to decide if I was serious about Taekwondo. I decided that Taekwondo had always remained true to me and if I stayed true to it, Taekwondo would never let me down. Therefore, I trained throughout my pregnancy and during that time I grew so much spiritually. At brown belt, I was really challenged physically. It was hard returning to training after having a baby. At the advice of my son Timothy, who told me, “Mommy when you come back... come back fierce!” I decided to listen to my body but push it just far enough in order to grow stronger. At high brown belt, I became hungry for the true essence of Taekwondo. Now at bodan, I am being polished and just recently adopted the mantra, “I am strong, I am smart, and I am beautiful.”
From white belt to now my life has taken many drastic turns and all the while I had a safe place in the Dojang. During my training, I had surgery, got divorced, engaged, and had a baby. Clearly a whole lot can happen in three years. I am just grateful that I had Taekwondo and my Chosun family with me along the way. I am also grateful to my kids Mika and Timothy who always encouraged me to never give up on myself, just as I am grateful to Master Cook for showing me how to fall in life and in the Dojang. Reflecting on the past three years of my life, I realize that I am no longer the frightened lady wrapped inside of the white belt. I laugh about the day I told Olga I felt too mean to do a Ho Sin Sool on her. I laugh because I am no longer that scared fragile woman who was afraid to claim her space and defend herself. Today, I am strong and looking forward to getting stronger. Today, I am a yellow belt dressed in black. Today, I know I can accomplish anything.