By Nadya Osman '19
Not many people voluntarily get beaten up. No one wants the bruises, the pain, or the embarrassment. But, hey, that’s what I do every other day after school, and the incredible thing is: I have come to enjoy it.
I started taekwondo as a wee fourth grader, very shy and hesitant of the sport. After all, martial arts seem to be dominated by extroverts — the people who are the best are the people that yell the loudest and are the most intense. I was shaken by this fact, but the sport nonetheless came naturally to me. I remember going to my first competition as a yellow belt and coming home with a gold medal to a cheering dojo. I became more confident in my techniques and myself. It seemed I was on a roll.
However, every hero’s journey has to have some sort of setback. For my athletic heroism, it was the heightened rigor of NCS as I grew older. I struggled with a growing workload, my delayed progress in the sport, and a loss of interest. Taekwondo no longer seemed like a fun pastime — it was a chore. I was as close to giving up as my car is to another car when I attempt to parallel park (dangerously close).
My coach (who is sometimes featured on my Snapchat story), however, saved me from that fate. He talked some sense into me: I was going to have to find a balance between school and taekwondo. I had made it more than halfway to black belt, so what would giving up teach me?
So, I put all of my effort into finding other things in the sport that would give me joy, and gradually I found them. My coach opened the door for me to a whole other side of martial arts: tricks, stunts, and weapon training. Every day I kept up with my homework and actually looked forward to going to taekwondo. I even enrolled in more tournaments: I went to Maryland State for the first time where I won silver for my age group, qualified for nationals, and then won gold at the USA Taekwondo National Championships in Salt Lake City for my age group this past summer. Just a month later, I finally received my black belt after taking a six-hour-long, physically and mentally exhausting test. Possibly the scariest moment of the test was when I had to fight two people at once. I, literally, did not know what I was doing and decided my only tactic was to pick up my opponent and throw her against the other.
I am proud to say that it worked.
Overall, taekwondo has become fun and interesting to me again. I look forward to practices where we just have a good time attacking each other with bow staffs, doing crazy flips, and trying to film our own fight choreography shows. To get all mushy on you, taekwondo isn’t just a sport. It’s a way of life (damn, Nadya). I see taekwondo impacting me every day as it has taught me discipline, respect, thoughtfulness, endurance, and confidence. These characteristics are central to who I am, and I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t continued with it to this very day.