What Tae-Kwon-Do Taught Me About Faith
I was born a tom-boy. Tae-Kwon-Do was not in the picture. My mom tried her absolute best to make me the cute little girl she always wanted (and quite frankly deserved)…but I was never that. The ballet classes and tutus were never my thing and although I was a freaking precious chubster in them, I couldn’t change fast enough after recitals. Skirts were replaced with older brother’s hand-me-down jeans and my Rosie the Riveter shirt was basically falling apart from the everyday wear and tear.
Like I briefly mentioned before though…I was in ballet. For a very brief time. It was not my thing; it bored me and I just couldn’t handle the whole “graceful” thing. I craved excitement and really just wanted interaction similar to what I had with my brothers (which was basically play fighting and wrestling all the time).
And I got it 🙂 and so much more as well…
One day I was waiting for my ballet teacher to pick me up from my the after-school program I attended. While waiting, I saw a group of kids come in wearing all white uniforms and different colored belts. My attention was immediately on them. They all lined up and all of a sudden they began this amazing routine of kicks, punches, yells, twists and turns, some flips, etc. I WAS MESMERIZED. I was hooked. I wanted to do what they did. I wanted to do tae-kwon-do.
I excitedly told my mom after ballet that night and while she was hesitant, she was never one to tell us we couldn’t do what we wanted. So after discussing it and deciding that it was truly something I wanted, I switched from the graceful ballet classes to the classes full of yelling and kicking. YAY!
It’s been thirteen years since that day and I have to tell you that tae-kwon-do was probably the best decision my young little self could’ve made. It taught me so much about discipline, self worth, and surprisingly, my faith (which I’m going to focus on).
What Tae-Kwon-Do Taught Me About Faith
The road isn’t always easy.
Tae-kwon-do is an art and a skill. It may look like just a lot of kicking and crazy movement but there is so much more to it and my first few weeks of classes did not go as planned because of that. It was tough adjusting. One main problem was that I was the only girl in the class when I started. Boys seemed stronger but I was ready for it. What I wasn’t ready for, however, was them not being ready for it. They took one look at me, saw weakness, and refused to spar me in the same manner that they sparred the other kids. This was frustrating.
Just like adjusting to tae-kwon-do, our Christian walk also takes work. It is never easy but the first few steps are sometimes the hardest. With Christianity we may be ready for it but others around us may not be and this can be frustrating to face. It brings us to questions like “Why am I persecuted for my beliefs?” and “Why am I being treated differently?”.
Overcoming this can be difficult but that brings me to the second thing I learned from tae-kwon-do…
Nothing comes overnight. The perfect kick doesn’t come overnight. The powerful, intimidating yell doesn’t come overnight. The smooth transitions in self defense drills don’t come overnight. Sparring without fear of being seriously hurt DOES NOT come overnight…or ever really…
Praying comfortably and routinely doesn’t come overnight. Profound knowledge of the Bible doesn’t come overnight. Acceptance doesn’t come overnight. Being a perfect Christian doesn’t happen overnight…or ever really…
You must work for all of these things and dedication is vital for success. You must do the same kick hundreds and hundreds of times. You’ve got to yell your heart out without fear of judgement. You’ve got to spar like it’s real, like you really are defending yourself.
You must pray hundreds and hundreds of times. You’ve got to love and own your faith without fear of judgement. You’ve got to stand behind the word of God like it is your protection and your foundation…because it is! There are going to be people who do not understand where you come from. They will not respect why you choose to lead the life you do. Being rejected and getting shot down will come with this but taking a step back and breathing can help with the frustration of this. Retaliation will have produce nothing but negative responses.
Patience and silence will speak for itself.
Which leads me to #3!
There is a time to be heard and there is a time for silence.
The Ki Hup is the yell in tae-kwon-do. It is extremely important to put all your spirit and power into the yell. I struggled with this as I did not like the yell in the beginning. I saw it as kind of cheesy and pointless but over time I learned the deep importance of being heard.
There are times in our faith when being heard is important. Speaking up on behalf of someone who cannot speak for him/herself; speaking up on behalf of our Lord and defending his name (in a way that shows Him in a light worthy of Him and nothing less). Also, just like I saw yelling as cheesy, praying gave me the same feeling at first. I saw it as odd and wasn’t a fan as it took me out of my comfort zone. However, over time this feeling began to dwindle and praying has become something I treasure as it was my personal time with the Lord.
But there is also a time for silence, a time for meditation. In karate there are several times when periods of complete silence are necessary. When the instructor announces “Charyot” it means “attention” and from that moment there is no speaking. The student stands up straight, hands by their side and eyes ahead, focused on that moment and the instructor. Nothing else. Nothing.
The same, of course, goes with our faith. There are many moments when we need complete silence with our Lord. We don’t necessarily need to stand straight up with our hands by our sides and eyes ahead but we do need to have our hearts focused on Him, with our eyes (figuratively) straight ahead on what our instructor (God) has in store for us. We need this time with Him so, so much.
Life is so much sweeter because of it.
Despite all the sour comments you will face because of people not understanding why you chose to spend ten years of your life breaking two-by-fours with your elbows, or allowing yourself to constantly be beaten up by people much larger and more skilled than you, the rewards will make it all more than worth it. The excitement of “perfecting” a flip or earning a measly stripe on your belt will be a reward that nobody (except those that share in the love of tae-kwon-do) can understand.
And despite the comments you’ll face because people don’t understand why you chose to walk alongside the Lord during your supposed “young, rebellious years”…or why you chose to wait for sex until marriage…or why you choose to wear your faith like armor, the rewards will make it so much more than worth it. The excitement for the day you get to be one with God himself or deepening your knowledge of the Word will be a reward that nobody (except those that share in the same love of God) can understand.
If my five-year-old self knew of the impact that my impulsive decision would’ve had on me over the course of thirteen years…I’m sure it would’ve terrified her. There was no way she would’ve been able to understand. After all, all she wanted to do was punch kids (like she did to her brothers).
But what she got was so much more and how sweet it is to know that now.
To my instructor, to the sport I will always love with everything that I am, and most importantly to my Lord: Kamsahamnida (Thank you very much). You have taught me so much.
Read more from Elisa at Elisations