I hadn't realized that the last time I wrote on here was in November 2008.
After testing for my 5th mid-term in the 1st degree curriculum, I called it quits.
I had been trying to balance my new job, at the time, that was about to increase its hours with TKD time and family time. It just wasn't working. To add to that. I was just not finding TKD that much fun anymore. My body hurt too much, between my knees and back. It was time to walk away.
That was in December 2008.
It is now March 2010. I don't regret walking away. While I miss my friends at the ATA, and I still enjoy martial arts, my body is just not in any shape to do it anymore. I did gain some weight after stopping, and I'm working on ways to get back in shape that won't tax my knees so much. I know that I'll always be welcome to go back, but I don't forsee that anytime in the future. Ironically enough, I ended up getting laid off from said job, and so I suppose I could go to the one or two day classes, but it costs money I don't have right now, and even if I did, I'm putting my energies elsewhere trying to find a new job while going back to school. Right now, my intellectual education is more important than my physical education.
Do I regret my years in taekwondo and the ATA? No, not at all. I do regret that Drew doesn't continue with it. He was able to graduate to brown belt before he quit. And yet, due to his great love of Star Wars these days, runs around doing martial arts moves worthy of any great Jedi, but doesn't want to go back, even if it's a different martial arts school or form. Oh well. Maybe he'll change his mind.
For both of us, I think we learned about a great way to physically exercise and learned how to discipline ourselves. There's times that Drew will snap into place with the "Yes, ma'am!" or "Yes, sir!" or have a take charge attitude that he would've learned over there. I find myself still acting like an instructor trainee outside of the do-jahng. So in that respect, we got some good out of it for both of us.
For myself, I think the accomplishments I made were ones that I needed to make. I needed to earn that black belt. I needed to earn those titles, especially that state championship. I didn't think that I could ever do that. My black belt certificate is framed and sits in my dining room. It is a reminder that I can achieve many things if I choose to do it, and put the work into it.
Now, instead of trying to get to my 2nd degree black belt, my goal is to earn a Master's degree in Professional and Technical Communications at NJIT. I'm still getting through my first semester of the graduate certificate program first, but I think I'm on my way, and just have to remind myself that if a person at my age with a bum knee could earn a black belt and a state title, then I can definitely earn this Master's degree as well.
To anyone reading this who is interested in martial arts, don't see this as the end of a story-- it's the beginning. If you love martial arts, keep doing it. While I really can't practice it anymore, I still believe in the power of learning it, and how it really can enable you.