How TKD Has Changed Me
By Lorraine Smith
Tae Kwon Do is more than just a marital art, it is a school for life’s lessons; Yong Studios is my school, my home away from home, my life’s lessons.
Lesson 1: Intrigue
TKD was introduced to me by two good friends who invited me to their black belt exam. I was very impressed and intrigued. More than 10 years later, my son expressed a great interest in learning it, mainly (I thought) because a good friend of his was doing it. He got to be a guest at his friend’s studio that fall & loved it. My husband & I decided to wait until Christmas & give it to him as a gift which would also give us time to see if he was really serious about it. Well, he was. Not only did he love it, he was really good at it. That is when TKD changed my life. I was soon going to Yong Studios 5 times a week, and as I watched his classes, I found myself becoming intrigued and enamored by this strong, yet beautiful martial art.
Lesson 2: Humility
Soon I began wondering if I could do it myself. I had been a professional dancer and dance teacher in my former days, starting with ballet at the age of 3 and progressing to modern dance and jazz. It’s hard to believe it today, but I actually danced in NYC at the Alvin Ailey & Merce Cunningham studios as well as in many DC studios and dance companies. I figured my background in dance, albeit many years ago, would help me with TKD. Wow, was I ever wrong! Well, maybe it would have if I hadn’t been 20 years older and 20 pounds heavier and certainly nowhere near my top physical condition.
Lesson 3: Encouragement
In any case, I mentioned my interest to my son, who immediately told me, “You should do it, Mom!” I finally got up the courage to talk to Mr. Kim, and he was so encouraging and understanding that he motivated me to try it out. Little did I know that I would have to face Mr. Surage as my teacher! He is so strong, so tall, so perfect! And I was so weak, so fat, so clumsy! Per Mr. Kim’s suggestion, my first class was a noon class, which remains my favorite. There I found my second inspiration – Barbara, an older woman (well one of the few older than I), and a black belt. She gave me such encouragement and help that I felt if she could do it, I could do it.
Lesson 4: Pain
So, began my study of Tae Kwon Do. At first I could only take class every few days because I was in so much pain the day after class. I could only do about 3 “male” push-ups & 10 full sit-ups. I began coming more often and the soreness started to go away. Then came the pain from an old body that has been abused by years of dance. My joints in particular took a beating, but somehow I managed to work through the pain. I was amazed that when asked to do 100 push-ups & 100 sit-ups one day, I actually did it! I was very happy when Yoga was offered to us, and I thought, “This is something I can do. It will be relaxing & easy.” Again I was wrong; Ellen’s soft approach is certainly relaxing, but it isn’t easy & once again I could barely move the day after her class.
Lesson 5: Determination
I was determined to keep at my training regardless of my pain, old age and frustration as I watched all the “younglings” in their teens, 20s & 30s all around me. Little by little, I have gotten stronger and hopefully better. I’ve also watched my son get stronger & definitely better. It’s been a very amazing process. As a red belt, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where the elusive black belt hangs. Watching my son prepare for his black belt exam, it seems a long road down a dark tunnel, yet I am determined, just as my son is, to achieve that goal and that level of training.
Lesson 6: Friendship
Through this whole process, what has changed me the most is the incredible camaraderie and friendship I feel toward everyone at Yong Studios. Everyone is supportive, helpful and kind. It truly is like a home away from home. Thanks to all of you, and most of all to you Adam, my inspiration.