Over 20 years ago, I trained under a nationally ranked Instructor and earned a Brown Belt in an Americanized version the Chong do Kwan style of Taekwondo.
I repeat, 20 YEARS AGO!
As a teenager, I went because I thought it would help me get chicks. It didn’t (my wit and charm did), but it taught me discipline, respect for my elders, and, most importantly, self-confidence.
We had a great school. It was truly a family…my home away from home. We would spend practically every weeknight sparring with each other and practicing our forms (kata). It seems like every other weekend, we would all shuttle off to a tournament in Savannah or Atlanta. We were actually a pretty good school, particularly in forms, and we would always come home with some hardware.
So, fast forward 20 or so years. A good friend of mine, Joey, who went on to get his Black Belt at the same school, is now opening up a new school that is fast becoming my new home away from home. Joey and I spend hours a night trying to get back into shape before the new school officially opens. Many of those hours are spent remembering how limber we WERE, how much quicker we WERE, and how much, well, younger we WERE. Though we both agree, we ARE much smarter now.
For the most part, my Brown Belt is coming out of retirement for my own selfish reasons. I want to get the Black Belt. It is not the end so to speak. You don’t just finish at black, pack up and go home. You see, it symbolizes a great deal more that I am frankly not gifted enough to express.
Our old teacher, Pat Duncan, used to say, “A belt just holds your pants up, it’s the knowledge that matters.” Joey repeated that to me the other day. I still have most of the knowledge….flexibility is another matter.
I suppose, however, that my greatest excitement in all of this is that both of my kids want to join. They were so excited when the got their Gi (uniforms). Their first lesson was how to tie the belt, how to bow and how to get in a solid front stance.
My hope is that they find the martial arts home that I had growing up. I have often lamented on this blog about how different their childhood is and how the things that made up my childhood memories didn’t exist anymore.
This won’t be the same, nothing is, but it will be different in a good way…