Taekwon-Do Part 2: Perseverance (When You’re Banjaxed)

It couldn’t last. Five classes in to my new favourite sport, Taekwon-Do, and I’m injured. What did I expect? I’m 51 years old and I’ve joined a martial arts class. Yesterday’s session was going swimmingly. Everyone was doing lots of aerobic and warm-up exercises, and as usual I was crashing out panting for breath long before everyone else: in other words, so far, so normal. I had a chest infection developing but in the spirit of “if I CAN do it, I WILL do it” I was giving it my very best. After a while the instructor had us do some flying high kicks and after a bit of hesitation I found I was well able for them. You let out a shout – a kihap in Korean – then run the length of the mat area and scissor-kick a black rubbery target held aloft by another student. Your left leg is bent: in mid-air you kick up with your right to make contact with the target. Sounds tricky, and it looks super, but to my astonishment I really loved doing it.

Then a fellow beginner told me my knee wasn’t high enough…why did I listen? I should have got used to the move first. So what if my knee wasn’t high enough? There would have been plenty of time to fix that. But on my very next run I tried to fix it, lost my nerve at the last second, tried to fix it mid-air…and heard a snap in my buttock/thigh area. After sitting out an exercise I completed the class but I knew I was in for trouble.

Here’s a pictorial representation of the whole sorry episode:

A demo by the more proficient students looked amazing…
and my fellow beginners were, by and large, using their bodies with power and grace.
I warmed to the challenge (don’t mind the colour, that’s just me) –
– and was having a ball, with a great sense of freedom…
then made a mistake.

After class the instructor called me over. She handed me a card. Student Of The Day. Me! I was very proud…even though I think there may have been an element of sympathy involved. But I’ll take that!

“We don’t give these out very often,” said Ms Doyle, the instructor. I shall treasure mine. It eases the pain I am feeling just a very tiny bit.

My challenge is to weather this injury. I’ll be out for at least a few weeks. You sporty lot are used to injuries, but the last time I took a sports injury was when a hockey ball flew into my face and broke my nose. I was twelve. Before that I was also twelve and I stopped a hockey ball going as fast as a bullet with my ankle bone. I had a nice pattern of the stitching on my bone for my trouble. More recently I demonstrated a Zumba move for my parents during a meal – they are extremely generous with their wine – and I couldn’t walk straight for a week. That doesn’t count as a sports injury – more of an alcohol injury. Oh, there was a genuine sports injury recently, out sailing a 420 dinghy with my husband – again, I couldn’t stand straight for a week, but I hadn’t done anything wrong, exactly. It was more of a middle-age injury.

This one is a bona fide sports injury. My father tells me there is absolutely no credit in an injury done because you’re unprepared, but he’s wrong. There is credit in it: I was there, wasn’t I?

In the same way, you’ll make mistakes in the creative arts. Personally, I hate the feeling of producing a hideous sketch, a terrible garment or a miserable meal. But at least you’re trying. And if you persevere, you will get there.

And so will I.


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