An odd three years ago the idea of joining Taekwondo club - as part of a youth award program - came to mind. Even though that awards program finished years ago, I continually find myself very attached to this new exciting culture, a new way of life.
Three years ago, I did my first grading. I was standing here, with my friends, in a room full of people half my age and height. I was so anxious to get everything perfect and spot on for that grading.
Ever since that day, I have grown into a completely different person, with a different character and a fresh approach to life. Master Sam even described me now as unrecognisable to the uncoordinated white belt he remembered years ago, and I can only agree.
Not only were there changes notable in me, they were also shown in the other people I have trained and graded with throughout the years. Every belt we advanced up, our skills improved and so did our levels of maturity.
This is a testament to what a simple interest three years ago had the power to do. A simple interest has the potential to enhance life by factors of thousands, it has the potential to keep us fit and healthy, to keep us alert and sharp, to keep us motivated and disciplined. I certainly would not have known that Taekwondo would bring about all these benefits to equip myself with, but because I chose to do it, I now have the chance to truly experience these things.
Not only is Taekwondo a way to keep me in shape, it's a way to break up stress, it helps me manage my time and it helps me keep myself organised during my studies.
Taekwondo has inspired me to be creative in life, to pursue innovation. It has taught me to live life with fun and spontaneity.
I simply enjoy Taekwondo, and that's part of the reason I'm standing here. I believe I am ready to start another journey that will start today. A journey I only ever dreamed of starting years ago.
And as I do, I'd like to thank Master No and his invaluable team of instructors, particularly Master Sam and Master Brian, in leading me throughout this journey, ultimately preparing me for this day.