Tae Kwon Do, a way of life

Our team member Emilio Garcia, tells us about his passion for practicing Tae Kwon Do.  It took a lot of courage to submerge himself in this ancient sport, and afterward, become his passion and way of life.

How did you start in the world of Tae Kwon Do?

I always had this belief that you need to exercise regularly and I always tried to do some activities like running, playing soccer, or going to the gym. I’m not a big fan of the gym nor running in the cold mornings or nights. One day, I went to visit my 5-year-old goddaughter and her parents, who are very good friends of mine, practically forced me to go with her to her Tae Kwon Do practice. 

After her practice, there was a demo fight between a Karateka (a guy who practices Karate) and a Taekwondoin (a guy who practices Tae kwon do), both of them black belts.  I liked the Karate style at first, but after coming back to Lima, I was only able to find a Tae Kwon Do school. I went hesitantly to a demo class and fell in love almost immediately. I didn’t even try Karate, and certainly, I wouldn’t need it after going to the Tae Kwon Do demo class.

What does it mean in your life?

I never took any sport seriously before, all of them were hobbies for me. Tae Kwon Do means much more for me, It is a way of life. I’ve made good friends and learned a lot, not only in the field itself. Additionally, whenever I go training, I forget about everything and just do my best so I can get better.

How do you feel every time you practice Tae Kwon Do?

Most of the time in pain. The regular training focuses on several aspects like reaction, flexibility, combat techniques, and endurance. The combats consist of 3 rounds, 2 min each. You might think it’s not very much time, but throwing kicks for 6 minutes is exhausting.  So there are several aspects you have to develop to be able to compete. In real competition, the feeling is different, though. It’s very hard to describe. You have to experience it for yourself.

What belt do you have? Was it hard to get it?, What belt do you want to reach?

I’m currently a green belt preparing for the green-blue grade, and I want to achieve the black belt. Grading in Tae Kwon Do requires you to pass 10 levels (color belts) before reaching the black belt. I still have a lot of things to learn.

Recently, you had your first official fight, how did you feel? 

Due to the number of competitors (only 6) in the category, I only had to fight twice. The first fight was hard but I still managed to win, and it was a nice feeling, but that was all. I knew I had to keep calm for the final. 

In the finals, however, things didn’t start very well. I received a 3- point direct kick to the head, and while it was not very hard, I still started to feel a little demotivated. The fight was the hardest I’ve ever had, and in the break time, my coach splashed some water on my face and told me to react. “Look, I know you can do much better. I need you to move and do what you do in the training. Move, step, use everything you have, step quickly, punch, and then kick. Don’t let him get close”. In effect, I did what my coach requested, and everything started to work. I started to feel a lot of things, and those emotions were like fuel to me. I ended up winning the fight and while in the previous match, I didn’t feel too happy, this time I was jumping and running into my coach’s arms. 

By the way, my coach/teacher is Joao Tanaka, a student of the first World Taekwondo Champion: Ki Hyung Lee. I’d need another entire page to tell about them, but I’m very grateful to him. Having a good master is a wish for everyone. 

Is Tae Kwon Do very difficult?

It has its level of difficulty, but it’s not like you’ll find yourself performing difficult moves at the beginning. So like everything in life, you have to put some effort in, and while starting can be a little hard, time shows you that it’s not the hardest thing in the world at all, especially when you get to see your progress.

How often do you train?

I usually train 3-4 times a week about 2 hours each class. However, training is not only going to the Dojang, but I also cycle to the office (about 13 Km distance) as a way of extra exercise. So when I go to the Dojang, I am already warmed up.

In your opinion, what does it take to succeed in this sport?

It’s certainly something I would ask my black belt friends. Two out of the four integrants of the Peruvian Tae Kwon Do team for Kyorugui (Combat) train in the place I also train, and I ‘ve had the chance to train and spend some time with them. In my opinion, however, being constant and doing things with passion (besides discipline) are keys for success.

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