When it comes to grading students to their black stripe, I ask students to prepare a short speech on Taekwon-Do before they take on the final stretch towards achieving black belt – it can relate to any aspect of their training or journey in Taekwon-Do.

This is my student, Peter Stander’s speech. He is a “veteran” in our club and has thus far proven that age is not an obstacle in the pursuit of one’s goals and dreams.

Taekwon-Do in my life

Ever since I was a small kid I wanted to do Martial Arts, as I’m sure every little kid wants to at that age. Unfortunately I was an orphan and didn’t have the luxury of parents that could provide for me to make my dream come true. An old lady that helped my mom with a place to stay when she had nowhere else to go, adopted me after my mom left me with her when I was only 3 months old. The old lady was getting an old age grant and we lived in a one bedroom, zink government village house.

Cooking food and boiling water to bath on a black coal stove was how we had to manage and “my gran”, as I used to call the old lady, went to bed hungry many nights, just so that I could have bread to eat or have decent clothes and shoes to wear to school. So doing Martial Arts would have been a luxury we could not afford. So my hopes and dreams faded with time, until I was earning my own money.

Student Speech-PeterStander2

As a naive young man I then tried out a few Martial Arts but was never completely satisfied with it, so as soon as I started I also stopped and lost interest in Martial Arts. Until one day when I attended an I.T.F Taekwon-Do class. I was gobsmacked! The skill and power the Black Belts had in their kicks, hand techniques and patterns were so amazing. The cherry on top was when I had to hold a curved kicker pad and got side kicked by a Bo-sabum. I’m a big heavy guy weighing over a 100kg and despite leaning into the kicker pad, I was propelled backwards a couple of meters. I wanted to know more and be like the Black Belts. I was like a small kid in a toy store, I wanted to learn more and quick as well, I couldn’t wait for the next training class. So at a young, tender, mature age I started doing Taekwon-Do. As I started training I realised this is what I was looking for all my life, but I soon also realised that Taekwon-Do is not for the weak, you have to be strong in body and mind and have a strong will power. This Art was not going to be an easy path. It’s not an activity you just do to keep fit or because you want kill some spare time. Taekwon-Do is a way of life… it’s a commitment to live by the Oath and Tenets of Taekwon-Do.

It becomes part of who you are and it influences the way you look and react to life in general.

So with the support of my wonderful family and the help, advice and guidance from my fellow students, Black Belts and my Instructor, despite sometimes feeling like I want to quit or I will never get it right, despite the cuts, bruises, injuries and some bloodshed, it’s been an amazing journey. The only regret I have is that I didn’t find Taekwon-Do earlier.