September 17th, 2016, I tested for my black belt. One requirement was writing a essay about my journey....
My Martial Arts, Journey
By: Rosemary Klein
First, I come from what would be considered a large family. I have five brothers and five sisters, and I am the ninth child of eleven. As fortune would have it, I was born in the middle of three of my brothers. Two came right before me, and my baby brother after me. As a young girl I was very much a sidekick to my brothers schemes and adventures, although to some I might have seemed like a quiet shy and reserved child. If you were to see me in my comfort zone, I would, have been a competitive scrapper and determined not to be left behind. Being a younger child I was also sassy, even if my older siblings were the bosses. For me being a part of a large family taught me many things I still use to this day.
It began in the fall of 2003. My baby sister dragged me and two of my older sisters to a TaeKwonDo class. It was held in a little Christian school near Viroqua WI. When we arrived there were just two people: the instructor and his faithful brown belt student. I recall the instructor looking at my long sleeve shirt and saying, “you are going to lose that long sleeve shirt.” He meant that I would not want to have such heavy clothing, he was right because he worked us until we felt we couldn’t possibly do one more thing.
From that first class to the last class I was pushed. I had a love/hate relationship with my instructor and class. Through the sweat, bruises, and one time a broken toe and another time black eye, I was never let to give up. I was pushed over and over. It was a good thing, as it kept me out of trouble and taught me some values that I still hold dear. The class was not formal in that we were not required to wear a uniform. We had to wear appropriate workout attire and our belts, bowing and showing respect to rank was highly stressed. It was not traditional TaeKwonDo; I would call it more of a mixed martial arts. There was the definite TaeKwonDo aspect with Korean terminology, but also a strong focus on Hapkido (self defense, grabs, knives etc.). Ground work was incorporated, together with Jiu Jitsu (learning to defend yourself from on the ground, wrestling), and even sometimes on the side working with sticks. That first fall I started TaeKwonDo, in December the brown belt tested for his black belt. My sister and baby brother and I were at the testing and helped where we could. It was intense. The instructor did not stop the test until the brown belt had given his all. The next year the new black belt gradually became our Instructor.
The year 2008, I got married in May to my honey. I ended up becoming pregnant right away. Although I was supposed to test for my Brown belt I decided to wait to test as I was nervous about my first pregnancy. I continued to go to class throughout my pregnancy. My first instructor would come when he could. Otherwise, the first degree black belt taught the class. I had my wonderful firstborn son in January of 2009. After a bit of a rough recovery I went back to class. Throughout my six years with this class, there were many who started. But when I stopped I was the only one including from my family who had stuck with it.
The fall of 2009 my husband and I made a big move to Texas. My husband was going to school for his doctorate at the University of Dallas. For the next four years we lived in Texas, my husband working hard to support us while also going to school full time. I was a Stay-at-home mom with Cyprian our son. Eventually we had two more sons, Clement and Cletus, in that four-year period. At one point I joined a gym and did some training with a street fighter because I had been missing my TaeKwonDo. I kept telling myself I was going to get back to it and get my black belt. I have many fond memories of our time in Texas, but I still missed martial arts.
The summer of 2013 saw us move to Wake Forest NC. My husband landed a great job as a teacher in Raleigh. In the fall some friends told us about the TaeKwonDo class held through Wake Forest Recreation. So, the beginning of October 2013 I attended my first class. At that time there were two classes, beginner and advanced. The beginner class was all kids, and I felt a bit funny working with all the “young-uns.” I was able to catch on quickly because of my previous experience, but I will say my patience was tested. Having to answer to someone younger than you is humbling. I also fought the indignation I felt at starting back at a white belt. Yes, I have pride, and sometimes it is a good lesson to have it checked. Having to wear a uniform was also a change. But I came to realize the uniform gives us solidarity.
Master Ray was always welcoming, and Mrs. Felton very kind and helpful. I was quickly allowed to attend both classes back-to-back. I tested for my first belt in Sun Yi’s Academy in November 2013. April 2014 I attended my first ever martial art tournament. It was fun, and I wouldn’t mind doing so again in the future. I tested every testing after that except one I had to skip for having my fourth son in February 2015.
I went back to class in March 2015. It was after my second class back from giving birth to my fourth son Chrysogonus that a very serious and frightening accident happened. I was bringing my four week old son with me to class. A sweet grandma to one of the students kindly offered to hold my son during class. It was after class that I had just finished nursing my son. A father to four boys, two of them students at the time, asked to hold my son. I handed him my baby. What happened was an accident, but to this day I still sometimes have nightmares. A few minutes after holding Chrysogonus the man dropped him. Chrysogonus landed on his forehead on the hardwood floor. My wonderful friend and fellow student from TaeKwonDo considerately drove me and my son to the emergency room. It was discovered that Chrysogonus did in fact have a fractured skull, and it was a harrowing night.
Chrysogonus since has recovered well, and is an enjoyable amazing little mischievous man. The reason I am sharing this is that it made me almost quit TaeKwonDo. I fell apart from the stress and worry of what happened. By the grace of God and support of so many loving people in my life, especially my husband and family, I was able to come back a month later. Though I was back in class it took me several months to not have overwhelming recurring bad memories. Then November of 2015 I tested for my black-with white-stripe belt.
All in all through the ups and downs of what we call life, I have been so thankful to have martial arts as a part of my life. It is a beautiful feeling when you know you did something well. I still have much to learn and that in-and-of-itself is the beauty of practicing martial arts. It does not ever get old. It has been a journey with some very tough challenges, but also great rewards. I am not planning on stopping the journey, but hoping and striving to fulfill a long time dream of proudly wearing a black belt. This includes living the tenets, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit.
Here is a link, if it works, of parts from my black belt test. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXlalMMvCFs
|Shortly before leaving to go to my black belt test.|
|My official black belt with my name on it:')|