Late in 2012 I was considering ideas for a new novel when a character presented herself to me —fully formed and with a fascinating story. She was a martial artist working as a bodyguard for a prominent businessman.
While writing the first draft for this novel, I had to immerse myself in this character’s mind and body and, as the page count grew, I got to experience the power and discipline that martial arts provided for this young woman.
This is why, at a <cough> mature age, I attended my first Taekwondo class. I figured that, at worst it would be an opportunity for researching the topic for my book. At best it would be an alternative to attending gym which I found boring.
For nearly two years I learned WTF and attained the rank of Blue III. Late last year I switched to ITF and began at white belt again. That was a very good move.
What I want to share with you is what Taekwondo has meant to me. It has been life-changing.
It inspires me to get out of bed at 5.00 am, six or seven days a week to walk, run and practice patterns. I am better mentally – more able to handle challenges. I am faster, stronger and more resilient. I no longer smoke and my consumption of alcohol is negligible. I am probably healthier than I have been at any stage in my adult life.
While travelling frequently for work and leisure, I see many women struggling with the challenges that travel imposes. They are not much older than me, but are slow, red-faced and breathless. I find joy in my newfound fitness. As I move easily through the world, I am thankful for this wonderful body that responds with ease to the demands I place on it.
I am not gifted physically. Sometimes there is a “disconnect” between my brain and my limbs which makes Taekwondo very challenging and I have to work hard to achieve each new level. I must say, however, that the rewards are enormous. We all know that anything that comes too easily doesn’t bring the big benefits.
By doing something that I’m not naturally good at, I have re-invented myself. I’d go so far as to say I have re-written how the rest of my life will look. That’s how much Taekwondo means to me.