Teacher by day, Taekwondoka by night

How do you define “post a week”?  One post every seven days or one post within each seven day Sunday-Saturday period?

With an unexpectedly stressful beginning of the new school term last Friday, March 4th, I’ve been contemplating this and hoping I haven’t completely blown the Post-A-Week Challenge so early in the game.  First I was posting Mondays, then Tuesdays, last week on a Wednesday, and now on a Thursday.  Forgive me, oh blogosphere!

Ever the multi-tasker, my vegetable curry is simmering on the stove while I type this because in an hour, I need to head to the bus stop to catch my ride to tae kwon do!

During January, which I dubbed “Cultural Immersion Month” because I also my vowed to learn how to read the Korean alphabet by February 1, I started taking tae kwon do with several of my co-workers.  It’s been an interesting path from yoga to martial arts, but grandmasters-willing, I’ll be taking my second belt test on March 14th and becoming a yellow belt.  When I got my yellow stripe, I felt a great sense of pride and can only imagine that this feeling grows with each new belt level, or gup.

When I first began tae kwon do, I had a lot of hang ups about doing something violent.  Some people find that yelling really loudly or punching something (or someone!) is a stress reliever, but I find that it only increases my anger.  When I’m upset, I like to close my eyes and imagine myself in an empty white room with lots of sunlight.  I find that picturing myself doing nothing, not being affected by anything, and affecting nothing grounds me back into the realization that my negative feelings are petty.   Luckily for me, I haven’t become a rogue kindergarten teacher since beginning TKD and the exercise endorphins keep me feeling pretty positive, even through application class, which I jokingly call Barfights 101.

It’s not as different from yoga as I imagined.  Whenever I watch my instructors demonstrate a move, I’m in awe of their grace, just like with former yoga instructors.  I’m standing there just hoping that one day I’ll be able to kick my leg up that high and have so much control of my movement and balance.  It’s about pushing yourself to learn through repetition of movement and the same ideas of respecting your mind and body apply.  The five tenets of tae kwon do are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit and how could that combination lead to anything but positive feelings!

Taekwondo has also impacted my teaching skills and for that I’m grateful.  You don’t have to begin studying martial arts, but it’s humbling to take time each day to be a student when you are a teacher.  Struggling with new combinations or achieving a high enough kick is something to think about when I find myself frustrated by something like a student’s inability to remember punctuation at the end of sentences.  Sometimes it’s not even the learning but the communicating that reminds me how hard learning can be–classes are taught in a mix of Korean and (heavily accented) English that often has me vowing to study my Korean  more.  It’s also given me the opportunity to make more friends outside of the foreigner community and occasionally practice my Korean.  Mostly I’m just really good at counting to ten though.

I have a feeling that the headhonchos of modern taekwondo had some of the frustrations of being a student in mind when they named the organization that binds together TKD schools all over the planet.  How else can you explain World Taekwondo Federation–WTF!


One thought on “Teacher by day, Taekwondoka by night

  1. Pingback: Rough Day at the Office | Alexa Abroad

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