My only prior knowledge of the place came from a birthday party held there for one of my friends. But this mild encouragement did little to quell the mixture of fear and nervous unwillingness I felt, as I stood still in protest, metres away from the academy’s entrance. At the age of nine, I still possessed many reservations when it came to new experiences and new people.
Once I began my first lesson, I was soon reassured by the geniality of the instructors and the engaging activities involved. With each lesson I gained more confidence, until my training had become an integral part of my life, allowing me to develop in various ways.
Despite my initial aversion, it had admittedly been my idea to take up Taekwondo. I was tired of the somewhat tedious lessons I endured in swimming, yet still needed to exercise outside of school – a necessity that my parents rightly ensured was enforced. I can’t claim to have first done it so I could become stronger, beat the bullies, and save the day, as seems to be the cliché. Rather the academy’s close proximity made a simple convenience of something that I was obliged to do. However, through my years of lessons Taekwondo became something I enjoyed, providing substantial value to my life, not only through physical instruction, but also through the verbal wisdoms of my teachers.
I learnt that through Taekwondo many things could be gained, a principle that extends to martial arts in general. There are of course the obvious physical benefits and potential for self-defence, which may be the primary attraction for some. Certainly, Taekwondo has allowed me to remain fit at a level that I probably wouldn’t have attained otherwise, but other benefits are just as important.
Taekwondo has taught me to be respectful and courteous to my peers, to set goals and always persevere through hardship so as to achieve to the best of my ability. It has enabled me to become a more confident, disciplined person. Whether for time management and avoiding procrastination while completing assignments, or contributing to my public speaking and leadership abilities, Taekwondo has assisted me in numerous areas.
Possibly most importantly, it has helped me to meet new people and make good friends, both inside and outside of Taekwondo, and improved my communication skills.
Taekwondo hasn’t been without its challenges though. I particularly recall the six months preceding my first Black Belt Grading as being laden with nerves and tension. At moments I doubted myself, not believing I could succeed. Yet through continued perseverance I achieved what I set out to reach, and the sense of euphoric accomplishment made all the training and anxiety worth it. I didn’t just achieve a black piece of cloth around my waist; through that trial I felt as if I had grown as a person.
I am now Black Belt Dan 1, and I continue to grow through the skills and lessons I have garnered from Taekwondo. Whether the challenge I face relates to martial arts or not, I am sure that my time spent doing Taekwondo will assist me along the way. I’m glad that the trepidation of a nine year old didn’t hold me back.