I heard the instructor announce a couple of the other candidates, then my name; “Fiona Hayward” was called out, and I stepped out into the Biloela School of Arts to begin my South Pacific tae kwon do Black Belt Grading.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve thought it would be pretty cool to learn a martial art.
Probably all those dodgy episodes of “Monkey Magic” that were on the ABC at the time had something to do with it!
But I’m the girl that always trips over cracks in the sidewalk.
Co-ordination isn’t one of my strong points!
Plus, I’ve always felt really self-conscious doing any sport; you name it I was hopeless at it.
The idea of learning a martial art really appealed to me, but the thought of trying to do all that kicking, punching stuff with other people watching scared the living daylights out of me.
I tried karate once when I was at boarding school and, yep, I was un-co.
And yes, people laughed at me.
So I gave up after a month.
Many years later my son, William, and I were reading a kids’ magazine.
We found an article about martial arts, and there were pictures of kids doing all sorts of stuff.
He was fascinated.
“Mum, I want to learn!”
Remembering my past experiences I reckoned the younger he started the better for him.
So after he turned six William began learning South Pacific tae kwon do.
He really enjoyed it, the class was full of friendly people, and the instructors were great.
I was happy for him, but I never considered joining in!
After a few months my whole family was doing tae kwon do, except me.
Now Will had someone to train with at home, my husband, Allan, was having a great time, and our five-year-old was in the “Tiger Class”.
Allan began pestering me to join.
I did wonder what it would be like to learn tae kwon do.
But I was so scared I would be useless at it.
I wasn’t worried about getting injured, I was worried about getting laughed at!
(Even though I knew no-one in the Bilo’ crew would do that, I was still scared!)
Finally 18 months later I thought, “This is something I have wanted to do all my life.
“The only thing that is stopping me now is my own stupid fear of failing.
“If I don’t try I will always wonder if maybe I could have done this.”
I can still remember being terrified before my first class, even though I had been watching my whole family at training for a year and a half! And I remember telling Master John Milios that I was happy to give tae kwon do a try, but I wasn’t sure if I would ever do gradings.
(I can still remember him telling me I would do gradings!)
I remember being worried I was wasting instructor Leigh’s time. So many worries!
And then the training started and you know what?
When you are doing kicks and punches up and down the hall you don’t have a lot of time to worry!
When you are doing your tuls (patterns) you are concentrating so much you’re not thinking of any of those stupid worries!
And when you’re sparring with someone you damn well don’t have time to focus on anything except sparring!
You know something else?
All that stuff they say about how martial arts improve your concentration and your self-esteem as well as your fitness?
I’m still the girl who trips over cracks in the sidewalk.
But I’m also a South Pacific taek won do black-belt now.
So it doesn’t seem to matter too much any more.
And was I scared when I stepped out in front of everyone to start my black-belt test? A bit.
But nothing compared to how scared I was of starting tae kwon do in the first place!
Tae kwon do has taught me more than just self-defence and how to break boards.
Sometimes the biggest things we have to overcome are our own attitudes!
So thanks to my family for encouraging me every step of the way, and thank-you everyone in the Bilo’ TKD crew for everything!
I’m so happy to have a black belt and so proud to say I’m from the Biloela Dojang!
So see you at training!
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