by Jada Fife '20
I would have held my breath waiting for my master to call my name at black belt graduation, except that I physically couldn’t. I breathed in and out so quickly I swore I was hyperventilating as sweat slowly dripped down my face like a freshly washed tomato. My thoughts were racing, trying to beat my heartbeat. My name was called, and I responded, “Yes sir.” Then my master opened his mouth and congratulated me. He said that I was a hard-worker, who, at times, thought I couldn’t beat the odds of three knee surgeries. Then he tied on my new belt and I bowed and said “thank you.”
The moment I got my black belt was easily one of the best in my life. It was the culmination of five years of hard and painful work. However, I was not happy with my performance in the test. I was sluggish and imprecise in my movements. I knew I could do better. These feelings are what still push me as I work on my second degree, the next step above black belt.
However, all of these wants hardly compare to the real reason I dedicate so much of myself to taekwondo, which is simply that taekwondo is cool. It is amazing to have the confidence that comes with knowing that I can defend myself and I attack when I need to. It is extremely gratifying to know that I am carrying on a tradition that is much older than I that just so happens to help me so much. There is nothing like going from a stressful day at school to the studio, where I can punch and kick pads and people. Taekwondo brings so much joy into my life along with sore muscles and the occasional tear. I wouldn’t stop doing it for anything.