by Chosun Student Dr. Herb Green
Belt Promotion Essay May 17, 2015
Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines perseverance as “the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.”
My life has been, at times, an awkward balance between perseverance and complacency. I remember in my senior year at High School how I would cut classes because I was bored and defiant, not to mention that you had to be there at 6:37 in the morning. But, on a memorable winter morning, in the midst of a blizzard, I knew what I had to do—get to school. And I did, somehow trudging my way through the streets for 2 miles until I arrived. I felt exhilarated. That is the feeling I get with Taekwondo!
What does it mean to me to persevere in Taekwondo? It means doing the small things in warm-up like trying to stretch just a little bit further than the last time, reaching for my toes. It means going to classes, even when it would be easier to stay at home, particularly on a bitterly cold winter day. I do hear that inner voice that you so poignantly described in one of your articles saying, “you’ve worked too hard today…miss this one class…it doesn’t matter.” Oh, I’ve succumbed to this voice more times than I would like to admit. Afterwards, on those occasions that I can recall, I felt bad: empty, anxious and unsure.
On returning from our 2014 training tour in Korea, I promptly wrenched my back, herniating another lumbar disc, developing weakness in my left leg. My neurosurgeon said I was through. No longer would I have to concern myself with proper form and technique in Poomsaes or Basic Motions #1. Ashamedly, I thought “Ok, one less thing to worry about.” A sense of relief pervaded me. Complacency had won out. That didn’t last for too long. As the days rolled into weeks, I would sneak a peek at my Dobok uniform and my yellow belt, and my eyes would fill with tears. I missed Taekwondo at Chosun. I needed to come back. I took lessons from a personal trainer, went to physical therapy, became stronger. With my wife Roberta at my side, my neurosurgeon surprisingly said, yes, I could return to Taekwondo.
Master Cook, by example and words, you have taught me and others how to persevere. This quality, deemed a core element by General Choi Hong-hi, makes for true pride.