Going for Gold

October 1, 2008
Have you ever fought for something in your life? It began on the familiar floors of the Hollywood Taekwondo Academy, my second home. Grandmaster Diawaker Dan, a stern yet gracious black belt master, implored all red belts and higher to participate in the 5th annual National Taekwondo Championship Games. I was just a blue belt at the time, yet… I too was asked to participate in the competition. The thought of winning the glorious gold writhed in me like an unseen power held by chains. Heart racing, thoughts scattering, adrenaline surged wildly throughout my veins. For honor alone, I could not back down. Two belts to earn and two months until competition, the extraordinary journey was about to unfold. The real challenge was yet to be revealed.
As the great Muhammad Ali said, “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.” Speed, agility and focus were a necessity to the win the gold. I awakened early to morning light flooding through my bedroom window. Arriving at the dojo, I bowed to my teacher and embarked on a vigorous sparring and board splitting practice. After practice, drenched in sweat, I hesitantly knocked on the door of Master Dan’s office.
Master Dan I ask, “ Do you think this feat is attainable?”
Placid eyes meeting my gaze, he assuredly responds, “ No one in our dojo has done it before but I believe you could be the first, Namaste.”
Reassured, I bow and graciously exit.

Time quickly elapsed and before I knew it I was testing for my blue belt. Said and done, blue belt in hand and confidence at an all time high, I now looked with anticipation to the final belt test. The remaining red belt would require more grace and skill. I asked for my papa’s expertise in preparing me. The rigor of this level would require me to break a board with a spinning hook kick and to perform an impeccably timed poomse. For board breaking, the target would be suspended five feet in the air and I would need to pivot on one foot 240 degrees and then snap the board with the heel of my foot. Timing, speed, accuracy, and power are a must if the board is to cleanly snap. Board after board I shattered, poomse after poomse I perfected, kick after kick I unleashed. I practiced ardently for weeks on end, day in and day out, until the long sought after red belt was around my waist.
Now the real work would begin, preparing for the sparring competition.
Papa asks, “Do you want the gold, silver or bronze?”
I reply, “ What did I come all this way to accomplish?” “Let’s go for the gold!”
Starting in our studio early in the morning, I trained hour after hour. My papa began with stretching, basic kicking practice, and mild board breaking. Then the intensity escalated. Circling me with kung fu pads, I would strike out when he yelled hit. He circled faster and faster, wilder and wilder. Strikes coming at me from unknown directions, I swapped blow for blow with the pads. Little did I know how valuable these lessons would be in the coming competition. Days passed and we practiced endlessly until at last the long awaited day came.

Banners streaming, Welcome to the 5th Annual Taekwondo Competition. Adrenaline surging, heart pounding, body quivering, anticipation building, I scanned the competition. Two referees guided me into the zoning area where I waited to be paired against my opponent. One by one the competition streamed past me. Who would be my adversary was yet to be seen. At last, there he was, my competition, a tall red haired ominous black belt. Solemnly, we stepped into the ring and bowed. The referee gave the signal to begin. Sweat trickled down my brow as we circled each other like lions awaiting the first strike. The black belt threw a left sided round house. Dodging, I avoided his blow and placed a sidekick at his side, hitting the target. “A point,” I say to myself. Kicks fly, the black belt strikes a solid blow to my rib cage. I falter and he gains a point. A break is called. Sipping water as I return to the ring my papa whispers, “Hook!” Circling each other, no additional points scored, time dwindles to a mere 10 seconds. I feel the black belts desire to win. He lashes forth with a back kick. No time to think I spin throwing a hook kick and place it squarely on his chest target, scoring the final point. Glory taste sweet. The gold hangs proudly around my neck. The gold was mine. And I thought to myself, “ Was this the real success, this glorious moment of acquiring the gold?” No… it was something far, far greater. The true success was the journey of discipline, hard work, and focus that it took to get here.

Join the Discussion

This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

chilena said...
Oct. 29, 2008 at 9:40 pm
Your writing is amazing. You pull the reader in to share your feelings. Also, a great positive story to share with others.
pacerlicious said...
Oct. 28, 2008 at 11:58 pm
K McL said...
Oct. 28, 2008 at 7:44 pm
Well written article! I could feel your focus, determination, jitters, and joy. You did a great job pulling the reader in and describing your journey very clearly. Great job!
PacerMamma said...
Oct. 28, 2008 at 4:04 am
Very well written. I enjoyed going on the "journey" with you and I especially appreciated your insightful thoughts at the end. Congratulations on winning the tangible and intangible gold!
shiva said...
Oct. 28, 2008 at 3:21 am
Inspiring,captivating til the very end,great message re:discipline,hard work,focus.
AdamBarrettBoy said...
Oct. 28, 2008 at 2:29 am
Nama, this was great. Your use of vocabulary was really good and they way you described the story, I felt like I was right there cheering you on. Great Job
miggy27 said...
Oct. 25, 2008 at 12:30 am
Nice work bro. I felt like I was reading a story about a samurai preparing for battle! Excellent word choice, too.
primera said...
Oct. 28, 2008 at 9:06 pm
Very well written article, Nama. I enjoyed learning something new about you and your dedication to meet a big challenge. Also, as a parent, I liked hearing about how your papa supported you by training with you for the belts and for the championship game. Very cool picture. One critique: watch your tenses. When speaking about a past event, keep it in the past tense the whole time. Don't go back and forth between past and present. This is a hard thing to master in writing, but you are well... (more »)
Patriotrider said...
Oct. 24, 2008 at 6:06 pm
Very compelling. Clear and energetic. Great first sentence...pulls one in to an exciting story that does not disappoint. After reading this story, I can envision a book written for teens and 'tweens about the "journey", one that would in the process also educate the reader about Taekwondo. Your story made we want to know more about the art itself, but the telling of it in story form would be my preference. I think anyone of any age would be drawn to a fuller version of this. Well... (more »)
Fonda L. said...
Oct. 17, 2008 at 3:44 pm
The article is great it captivates the reader. Small things found one misspelling, 5 areas where spacing was off (2 spaces between words vs. 1) and 1 fragment. Overall very good.
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