Tuesday, November 22, 2005


At the end of all-belts class last night, Master Hughes announded that there would be a celebration directly after class.

"Justin is celebrating his fifth anniversary in Tae Kwon Do. I think there's some cake."

There was cake; two, in fact, provided by Justin's sister. I took pictures, then took over the cake responsibilities so Justin could celebrate with his friends.

Stephanie decorated his face with frosting. He didn't seem to mind.

An anniversary like that--five years in TKD--is certainly one worth celebrating. Not everyone sticks with martial arts that long.

Justin and I have talked about this before. Many of the people who started with him five years ago are no longer doing TKD any more. They got their black belts and then faded out of the picture. Or things in their lives changed and they left our dojang.

I recognize that goal-oriented approach to TKD: some people are there to "get a black belt." That goal is an end point for many people. It becomes some sort of proof of ability, strength, etc. Actually, from my reading and what I've learned at the dojang, the black belt is just the beginning of being a martial artist. Still, most people think of it as an ending point.

If you think of it that way, it makes sense that you quit once you've gotten it.

Justin obviously doesn't think of it that way. He mentioned that he will probably not continue with tennis that much longer, but he wanted to continue with Tae Kwon Do. I hope he writes about this on his blog sometime: why does he continue when so many of his peers quit? Maybe that's something that long-time martial artists have to think about often.

How do I view it? I don't think "getting my black belt" has ever been a particular goal of mine. I think I always just wanted to learn a martial art. I like the approach to life that it brings with it: the approach it has to conflict, to discipline, to focus. And as long as I'm learning and enjoying it and getting better and stronger, I'm going to stay with it. It's OK if it's hard.

I told Justin that I want to still be taking ballet when I'm 70. I hope to be taking martial arts when I'm 70, too. At least that's the way I feel now.

Maybe I'll even have a black belt by then!

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