Did you all have a nice July 4th weekend? What’d you do? Anything exciting?
I went to San Jose, CA. Left on Friday, came back Monday, and saw a few fireworks from the sky. It was grand.
Why’d I go you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t ask, well haha, jokes on your, because I’m going to tell you anyways). I went to compete at the USA Taekwondo National Championships. Have I told you about my taekwondo experiences? Because I should have, they’re a hoot. (Yes, I just typed “hoot”.)
I’m on a competitive taekwondo sparring team. I’ve been on the team for a little under a year and a half. I started doing taekwondo a little over a year and a half ago. After finishing my first Olympic distance triathlon, I suddenly had a whole bunch of free time. So Betsy and I decided to sign up for some TKD classes. We figured we’d show up, learn some kicking, learn some forms, and get in a decent workout. We’d both done it before – she in high school (I think for a little while), and I took it as a gym class in college. Neither of us were planning on doing much sparring. We went for a few months and starting working our way up the belt colors.
Then, one day the coach of the sparring team asked me to come try out. I didn’t think too much about it, but showed up and quite literally got my butt kicked. That was a year and half ago. Lots of bruises, many sore body parts, and a lot of teasing later, I’m part of a really awesome team.
Yes, I do taekwondo with a bunch of kids. My teammates range from age six to age 20, and I’m the elderly athlete at 27. My coach is year old than me. And yes, I get beat up by small children. These kids are really good at this sport. We have two National champions and I’ve been kicked in the head by a 12-year-old. And they have also taught me a lot. Even though they seem young, they’re really good teachers. They have been patient with me as I learn the kicks, they let me kick them during the drills (and then kick me back – not gently I might add), and I we have really become teammates and friends.
Back to the championships. This year USA Taekwondo Nationals were held in San Jose, CA. Seven athletes from my team headed out west to see how we stacked up against the rest of the country. Turns out we stack up quite well.
Out of the seven of us then went to San Jose, four of us medaled. Our team came away with two gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. And a lot of pride. Everyone who competed worked hard, gave their best effort, and a whole bunch of other uplifting cliches. Except they were all true.
I ended up fighting in the 18-32 year old (yes, my competitors were my age!), grassroots black belt division. I’m the one in blue looking super hardcore in the above picture. And as you can see from the score in the background, I won!
The whole experience was a ton of fun. I got to see an Olympic bronze medalist fight, my 13-year-old teammate spent the weekend hitting on the reigning Junior World Champion, I had my first experience playing hotel tag, and basically acted like I was 15 again. It was also an eye-opening experience. I feel like I’ve come a long way since I started this 16 months ago, but I still have a long way to go. Next year should be interesting!