The Best Roller Coaster Ride Ever
Written by Petra Roesner
The unexamined life is not worth living. - Socrates
As a black belt, I often think about how I got to where I am right now and about what all happened in between starting to practice Taekwondo to lose weight to now actually passing on the what I have learned thus far to others.
When I started to practice Taekwondo I had no idea what I was getting myself into. If someone a few years ago had told me that I would be a black belt at one point, I would have asked them what they are having and if I could have some as well.
Belt promotions were not even on my bucket list when I started, they seem to just happen every time my instructor told me I was ready to progress to the next higher rank. Yet, despite his confidence in me, I was generally nervous and anxious and doubted myself more than anything. Yet, despite my feelings, I think the whole process of earning higher rank(s) has also motivated me in many ways and it has certainly helped me to completely step out of my own comfort zone and to truly start to learn what I am not good at: sparring (and I am still a work in progress).
Everything seemed to move along just fine until I was a blue belt. Things changed. Slowly. I started to be in almost constant pain, every kick to my body hurt beyond belief, I had odd rashes, and every practice became an exercise in overcoming something. After a few months of all this, I finally went to see my doctor and after what seemed a gazillion tests and months later, I was diagnosed with some form of Lupus, which required me to change many things in my life to be able to not have my life controlled by some odd autoimmune issue. In this case giving up was not an option that I have chosen, I have chosen to persevere and show indomitable spirit to overcome and to continue my roller coaster ride, that was actually a bit more mellowed until I earned my red belt.
The red belt for me was always a transition phase into something completely new and different. The process from moving on from there however was yet another memorable roller-coaster ride. There were many extraneous circumstances that at times prevented me from being as focused as I could and wanted to be. I was in the process of entering the research process of my dissertation (which, of course, was focused on Taekwondo), learned that my better half would deploy for at least six months (with the possibility of the deployment being one year) with only three weeks notice to get ready to be a temporary single mom of two boys. During that time, it seemed, I felt that was really tested as an athlete having to cope with multiple injuries that didn’t allow me to test for a year combined with the relentless self-questioning of what on earth I was doing to my body.
During that period, there were many times that I thought about just throwing in the towel and to quit. There were many talks with my wonderful instructor, who was, fully aware of what was going on in my life outside the dojang, and who encouraged me to get my indomitable spirit back at those moments and to not quit. So I kept on moving along, learned more patterns and found my niche in Taekwondo, helping other learn. So, looking back, in many ways, despite many set-backs, that was probably the period in my development as a martial artist that shaped me in so many ways: realizing that I want to give back what I know and realizing that I can do it, maybe not necessarily on a planned schedule of testing dates, but on a schedule that was mine to control and work with.
Once I “recovered” from broken bones in my foot and a knee injury, I found myself in the dojang almost every day, training harder than ever to get ready for the big day. Even though I felt pretty confident in my ability to test, the closer the testing date got, the more doubts I had about everything: my ability to do well, whether I was ready or not. When the day arrived, despite my nervousness, I did well, actually, according to my instructor, it was the best he has ever seen me during a test. I think that was because I simply remember the mantra passed on to all of us by him since day one, when testing, “have fun” and “enjoy the moment.”
Looking back, I could have never gotten to where I am now just by myself. Had it not been for the constant and consistent encouragement from my instructor, I would most likely have given up. The same holds true for the constant encouragement from my senior ranking Taekwondo sisters and brothers, who have also pushed me along and who will forever be my great role models in so many ways. And most of all, it could not have been possible without the belief that my husband and sons had in me, that I could do it. I also believe that my healthy dose of self-doubt also made me focus harder, particularly on those skills that I have a harder time with. Finally, I believe that it was also the incredible sense of friendship inside our dojang and the feeling that all students regardless of rank are in so many ways my brothers and sisters in the sport – a community of like-minded individuals who share and try their best every day to live Taekwondo in their lives.
Petra Roesner, PhD
About Petra Roesner, PHD
Petra, a Black Belt in Taekwondo, has two publications that allowed her combine two of her passions, Taekwondo and moral and character development: Beyond the Dojang: A phenomenological Study on Transferring the Virtues of Taekwondo into daily life and Taekwondo, more than a martial art. A journey for life.
Petra is the owner of Focused Solutions Consulting LLC located in Lithia, Florida, and offers educational coaching and mentoring as well as life coaching for individuals of all ages and families.
Petra can be contacted at 808 729 2701 or via email, email@example.com.
Please make sure to check out her website for Focused Solutions Consulting LLC at focusedsolutionsconsulting.com or follow her on twitter @Petra Roesner
Petra Roesner, PHD Introduces Her Book
Please, allow me introduce my book, Taekwondo, more than a martial art, a journey for life:
Many books have been written about Taekwondo—mostly about learning the technical aspects of this sport. If you want to learn how to kick and punch or how to do your patterns better, this book is not for you, as I don’t even want to begin to attempt to fill the shoes of the great masters who know so much more about that than I do and who have written excellent books about those topics.
This book is about how Taekwondo can help develop good character. It is about learning to be courteous, about living up to one’s word, how to control oneself, and how to not give up by persevering and showing indomitable spirit to reach goals in life, even when things get difficult. It is about living the tenets of Taekwondo—courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit—inside and outside the dojang.
This book is also about how living the tenets of Taekwondo can help to have good relationships with others by being courteous, mindful, respectful, and fair. It is also about learning about values and trying to make a positive difference not only in one’s own life but also in the lives of others by helping them in a kind, understanding, caring, and compassionate manner. Finally, this book outlines that students of Taekwondo do not just learn physical skills, but that Taekwondo can also become both a philosophy of life and a lifestyle, and that the journey is ongoing; and while it can be difficult, it can be fun at the same time.