Published: Dec 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 15, 2012 08:29 PM
Nearly three years ago, before I started studying Taekwondo, I was alarmingly insecure, unsure of myself and had a very poor self-image. I had, since the middle of second grade, been under the impression that I was overweight; I was also a very angry person. Without Taekwondo, I was probably headed down a path to an eating disorder.
But I started Taekwondo and I gradually became stronger and stronger, grew and grew. I also learned to show my elders the respect they deserved which probably saved my relationship with my mother, and certainly made this phase of my life more pleasant for us both.
Now, how could one thing have accomplished that much? Well, Taekwondo is founded upon respect and discipline. These concepts are practiced every lesson, we bow to our Masters before each activity and we bow and say after each activity, Èä, or thank you. At the end of the class, we bow to our families in gratitude.
Taekwondo made me more confident in myself, because I no longer felt I was overweight, I could see that I was growing and that I was strong. Also, I was burning more energy and felt more at peace. I had less energy to worry about things and I also felt like I kept things in better perspective. I was more focused on important things, not on just me.
Tae Kwon Do is broken into three words in English, but it is one word in Korean. Tae means foot, leg, or to step on; Kwon means fist, or fight; and Do means way or discipline.
I think that anyone can benefit from Taekwondo, but especially Western kids. In school I see so many classmates who show their teachers very little respect, and dont even listen when theyre talking. Theyre robbing themselves of a chance to learn, but theyre also robbing their classmates of the same thing. I see these same kids speak to their parents in unbelievably disrespectful ways, and show very little gratitude for the things that they have been given. Taekwondo teaches you the value of respect and gratitude.
Even though physical fitness is an important component of Taekwondo, respect and honor and discipline are even more important aspects. My Master Kim, of Kims White Tiger Taekwondo, emphasizes in every lesson: Mind, Body, Focus. He helps us to put all these together to make us healthier and stronger in every way in our bodies, our minds and our spirits.
For this reason, Taekwondo is becoming very well known for helping kids with ADHD and ADD do better in school and at home. But it is shown that it helps everyone do better in school and at home. Kids who take Taekwondo get better grades. I can personally attest to the fact that it has made me a much better student.
Taekwondo has been around a long time. It is an ancient art and the earliest records of it are 50 BCE. The Hwarang warriors are said to be the ones who developed Taekwondo, and spread its teachings.
Taekwondo teaches its students what it means to have good character. Taekwondo places an emphasis on doing the right thing and being kind and patient with other people.
Every week there is a different Black-belt Life Skill word. Before every class begins we meditate on and talk about that word. The words are different every week Mercy, Thankfulness, Respect, Temper Management, Focus, etc. As we meditate on these words and better understand the concepts, we try to figure out ways to incorporate them into our lives. All these things deliver positive messages and help us build good character. I think its especially good for smaller children to begin to think about these ideas.
I am 13 and testing for my first degree Black Belt. I feel like Im accomplishing something and that makes me feel good about myself. But I also know that Im just beginning this quest to incorporate the values and lessons of Taekwondo into my life. There are still times when I dont succeed at being kind to my sister or respectful to my mother and aunt. I have work to do perfecting the skills Im studying. But Im learning and I have goals for myself.
Im grateful that different cultures have come together in America, to teach and guide people. America is a young country and it has a lot to learn from countries and cultures that are so much older than it is. I think we all benefit when we try to learn the wisdoms of other cultures.