Andrew and Lia

April 2019

What does a Black Belt mean to you.
It might seem that I am a late starter to Taekwondo (TKD). But I have been dreaming of and it has been a major goal of mine from a very young age to attain a black belt. I was very determined to make it a goal to get a black belt.
I joined TKD as an “older” or “mature aged” student. I thought that I was too “old”. I thought that this may be a disadvantage as I wasn’t flexible like a young person who can do the splits and execute a head high round house kick. However, I had two young daughters and I wanted them to gain the lifetime benefits of TKD and importantly learn self defence. So I signed up for them but also for myself.
I set a personal goal that I would get a black belt before I was 50 years old. I persevered and I took everyday, and every lesson, one step at a time. There were days when I felt like giving up, as I couldn’t kick high, I was a bit “unco” in my strike and blocks, my muscles were sore with every lesson. Normally, I would have given up. But something inside me said, no I have to keep going, and aim for that elusive black belt. I also had to provide a wonderful example to my two daughters to not give up. Therefore I kept going and never gave up. When I was white belt I remember looking at, and up to the blacks belts and the other advanced students and I thought it would be impossible for me to get to their level. They seemed so strong and perfect and I thought it would be an impossible mountain to climb. However, I made sure that I attended as many training sessions as possible and I tried to grade every time to keep up the
momentum. I also think that with consistency, resolve and overcoming challenges I managed to climb the mountain and reach black belt.
I believe that attaining a black belt is not a destination. It is much more than that. It is not a mere point in time or a mere end. The most important thing to me, as I look back, is the journey. Its learning every belt level and building upon each level. Its attending and performing at every grading from white to red and then black. It’s also the friends you make and helping and seeing other students progress. I am also bettering myself as a person, by learning to be calmer, kinder, friendlier and more confident. I believe that getting to black belt has been more than the physical, such as the kicks and punches. It is also the fitness and health benefits and also the mental aspects such as learning terminology and the history of TKD. Importantly, it’s also learning from the instructors that teach you. But it has been a hard journey but also very rewarding and fun. It’s been better late than never.
Black belt also means to me to set goals, never give up and never stop believing that you can achieve those goals. I am proud of myself for not giving up and I felt like giving up many times through each belt level. I have thought many times to myself why am I doing this, what is the point?
It means so much to me now as I have benefited and grown. Black belt also means a lot more to me now that my two daughters joined me in TKD. They have faced many challenges and I hope that I was a good role model for them so they can see me, being an “oldie”, that you can achieve your goals, being young or old. My youngest daughter will be grading with me to reach Black belt on this coming grading day. This is a very special and
rewarding time for the both of us and makes me very proud and black belt means even more to me than it normally would.
My next goal is to reach other Dan levels and do Kumdo and Hapkido. Now that I have experienced and understand the amazing benefits of training to reach black belt level, I don’t want to stop.