“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
Sometimes you have to accept defeat. It was a simple choice in the end, worsen my snapping hip or walk away from Tae Kwon Do, which, because of the mechanics of what the martial arts was asking of my body, was sadly exacerbating the condition. No pain. I decided to stop before we reached that particular juncture. The hip is hardly snapping at all now, thanks to a brilliant sports physiotherapist and well – that elusive black belt was never reached. I spent three years on red belt. I showed tenacity and as the Tae Kwon Do Mantra says ‘indomitable spirit’. It was not meant to be. The longer I took – the more it eluded me. Something was pulling the black belt further away. Tae Kwon Do, to be very clear is a great martial art, but it in the end it is the preserve of the young(er).
I am not the most accomplished or heralded martial artist you will meet. I am not a ‘master’ in any martial art – not yet anyway. I AM on the journey. Maybe as Taoism puts it, I am on the pathless path. On that alone, I can share with you and we can hopefully grow together. But I have been training long and hard and it has made a difference. THAT is what I want you to experience too.
So I said my tearful goodbyes to Tae Kwon Do and started White Crane Kung Fu and Tai Chi, which was continuously interrupted by first my father’s death and then one of my sons falling seriously ill. All these things are in the past now, thankfully.
While I decided I could not continue with Fuijuan White Crane, it was not for want of a truly brilliant teacher and advocate. I was thinking long-term and the need for an accessible club. I have just started learning Wing Chun. And so – without realising it, or maybe realising it a little, because of my research – I have crossed the Rubicon from a hard martial art, based on kicking and overpowering – to two inter-related southern Chinese martial arts, more closely connected with breathing, meditation, getting low, being grounded and working on using softness and excellent technique, rather than the power in your punch. This, I hope is the path to longevity, with many masters in their nineties and beyond. From too old for the class – perhaps I am now too young – or maybe I have regained some time – and no longer lost it! The key thing is to train hard.