I watched my son train in Taekwondo over a period of nearly four years. I used to sit at the back of class, itching to take part, but having a disabling back injury, I never dreamed I could be a part of Taekwondo. In early 2006, a year after spinal surgery, I knew something had to change in my life - I needed to get fit, so I set myself the goal of joining Taekwondo. I started walking and gradually introduced other exercise to build my core strength. Twelve months later my surgeon cleared me to start Taekwondo.
Taekwondo has turned out to be more than I envisioned, not just providing training to improve my fitness and develop self defence techniques, but challenging me to do my best in all aspects of life and being immersed in another culture. Another point I hadn't considered is the meditative component of Taekwondo - it really works! I always walk out of a training session with a smile on my face, even after the most stressful of days.
It is nearly four years since I began training and I've had some setbacks along the way, but that is all they were, I never gave up. Taekwondo has taught me many philosophical lessons that I apply in everyday aspects of my life at home, work and socially. The lessons I have learnt include :
• patience with myself and others - allowing me to recognise strengths, weaknesses and differences of opinion without assumption or jumping to conclusion
• respect - for mind, body and another's beliefs and opinions
• compassion - a desire to help others less fortunate to realise their goals
• focus - an unwavering ability to stay on target to achieve a goal, whether the goal be defending against an attacker or working toward a longer term achievement
• resilience in the face of adversity - knowing and believing that giving up results in instant defeat and personal loss of spirit, as opposed to never giving up and carrying a sense of pride, self belief and confidence with you
In the early days of my training I saw the ultimate goal as getting my black belt, but as I graduated into the grades of 1st and 2nd gup I began to see that goal as a new beginning - one where I had been recognised as having a grasp on the basics, a foundation upon which further skills will be developed. One of the aspects of Taekwondo I really like is that it is a continual journey of learning and self development, this is another philosophy I apply to my personal and professional life.
With the date of my black belt grading falling on the sixth anniversary of spinal surgery, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my abilities and the power of determination that Taekwondo has brought to my life.
Prior to moving to Melbourne 12 months ago, I had the opportunity to train with Grand Master Hae Man Park on one occasion during his visit to Adelaide in 2008. The opportunity to train under Grand Master No every week is a great honour for which I am very grateful.
Taekwondo has been truly life changing, balancing mind, body and spirit.