Back to taekwondo

I have taken up taekwondo again. This is a Korean martial art, very popular in Australia in the 1980s.

When I started, the halls used to be packed with young people. Times have changed, and it’s hard to compete with Facebook and online computer games.  It’s ages since there has been a really compelling Kung Fu movie.  So most clubs are struggling.

When I lived in Yass, there was a great club, though they made me start again from white belt.  I worked my way up to one level short of a black belt.   In those days I could do a flying side-kick high above head level, to break a board.  The instructor left, numbers dwindled, and one of the students murdered two teenage girls and was locked away (in Goulburn!).  They shut the club down.

I tried karate for 18 months; it wasn’t as good.

We moved back to Canberra, and I found a new taekwondo club.  Then I snapped my anterior cruciate ligament and it took three years before I could train again — and flying side-kicks seem to be gone forever!

I went back to the same club, but their numbers were down to very few.  They had lost interest in recruiting new people.

Mostly they were 2nd and 3rd Dan black-belts, highly capable.  Just keeping up with these folk was a huge stretch — quite exhilarating!  Sometimes quite bruising.

That was the pinnacle of my skill.  The club folded; they would have found a way for me to get a black belt, but it seemed a bit hollow so I didn’t press it.

Eventually I found another club.   Good instructor, though idiosyncratic.   They made me start from white belt again, which was a bit strange as their standard wasn’t that good and some of their black belts were scared of sparring me.  Even when I was going easy on them.

There was a new instructor, that I didn’t get on with, and the club brought in some very strange new policies.  So I left.

After a break, I found a small club just around the corner from my house in Scullin. Owen and then Allison came to training too. This was a pleasant time, but the only other senior member was the instructor, so my skill level didn’t really improve. Eventually he had a baby too, numbers dwindled, and the club closed.

Soon after, we moved to Goulburn. I found a club there, and learnt some new stuff, but that club again had very low numbers.  The instructor decided to have a break after many years, and the club closed.

Training in Canberra from Goulburn is very difficult. In 2009 I found some lunchtimes classes, again small numbers and nearly all black belts.  That was good fun, but without the evening classes I wasn’t getting enough training on the formal patterns.

In early 2010 I had a bad flu then an injury, so I didn’t start again immediately.  When I went back, I discovered that the club had split and the new class times would not work for me.

Then we went overseas, and I had a period between contracts so I wasn’t in Canberra anyway.

But the stars have aligned again.  I’m back with the lunchtime set once a week, and I’m getting to one or two evening classes too.  It’s inconvenient, but great for my fitness and mood.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get a black belt — but I’m enjoying the journey, and the destination has become less important.

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