So I had my test on Saturday to get my yellow belt and I passed! During the testing, everyone gets an opportunity to break a wooden board (or boards at the higher ranks). Breaking the board isn't required to advance in the lower belt ranks but it is required in the senior belt ranks (and to get a black belt, you have to break concrete with your hand!) And much to my surprise and joy, I broke the board! As soon as the board broke, I looked over at M Girl who was beaming with pride. Words can't begin to describe how much that meant to me. The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my baby.
Don't get me wrong - I wanted to break the board for myself if only to prove that a 40-something, slightly plump, female corporate lawyer can do something generally considered macho. (Am I dating myself using that word? Because I don't think I've heard that word used in the last decade.) But being able to show my five-year-old daughter that I could do it meant even more. Hopefully she'll be testing for her yellow belt next month and maybe she'll be able to break the board, too. My success will help her believe in her own ability to be successful. I was concerned that if I failed to break the board, she'd carry that failure with her to her test. Or maybe I'm giving myself way too much importance here. I have a tendency to do that.
Moving right along . . . as promised, here's the essay I wrote as part of my test.
What is your motivation to study Tae Kwon Do? What goals have you set for yourself? How do you plan to achieve your goals?
I've been interested in Tae Kwon Do for years but always had lots of excuses why I couldn't sign up for instruction. There's not enough time. I'm out of shape. I'm too weak. I'm too old. There was some truth to the excuses. With two little ones at home and a full time job, I didn't have much extra time. Without taking time to exercise, I was weak and out of shape. And I wasn't getting any younger.
When I turned 40, I decided that it was time to make some changes. I realized that I wasn't setting a good example for my daughters. I needed to make time for myself. I was physically weak and mentally weak. I wanted to feel better about myself and take responsibility for my health and well-being. I also realized that if I was ever going to achieve my dreams, I had to actually do something now instead of waiting for that day when conditions are perfect. A day that will never come.
I decided to study Tae Kwon Do because it has both mental and physical components which will help me become stronger in both areas. I could never stick to a fitness routine that involved exercising for the sake of exercising. When I do push ups in Tae Kwon Do, I know that it will make my punches stronger and my blocks more effective. When I do sit ups, I know that it will improve my balance and someday, I'll be able to stand strong in my app kubi stance when my instructor tries to push me over. I'm not just exercising because it's "good" for me. I'm exercising because it helps me achieve my goals within Tae Kwon Do. The fact that it also happens to be good for me is icing on the cake.
Tae Kwon Do, like other martial arts disciplines, is both goal and process oriented. I like having a goal of reaching a higher belt rank. I also like the fact that success is not solely determined by belt rank. Instead, success is in the smaller achievements of learning each new technique and gaining consistency over time.
Outside of Tae Kwon Do, my goal is to become a published writer. I plan to achieve that goal through making time to write, studying the art and business of writing and taking classes.