Why I continue Taekwondo after 35 years of training.
Over 35+ years ago when I began TKD I never thought about what belt I was, I just practiced. As time went on, my belt color changed and finally it became black. It was not a goal to become a black belt. I just enjoyed the practice and people in class and my instructor.
I have never set a goal for myself in terms of rank, only in terms of learning and teaching. I wish to know more tomorrow than I did today and thus be a better teacher and student. Perhaps that is why I am still practicing. The color and number on my belt tell only of my years in practice. My instructor said that the black belt means one has learned the basics and it is only then that one begins to learn TKD. Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee, founder of TKD Chung Do Kwan, wrote that TKD changes your life. Both were correct, and one can also change and enhance the lives of others by passing on the gift of TKD to others through teaching. That is my goal and as long as there are those who wish to learn and I am physically and mentally able to teach, I will continue to teach.
I am still at the beginning of my practice even after so many years. I still do not care about the color/rank of my belt. I care about assisting my students in their wish to learn TKD and guiding them along that path. Our belt colors and ranks have nothing to do with the real learning contained within TKD. As one of my senior students has often said, belts are for holding up our pants. The color of the belt is merely a reminder, especially to me as an instructor, of where my students are along the path. My belt is an aged gray color, as is my hair now, but my belt still holds up my pants well enough for me to practice and teach. Tests and new belts are merely bumps along the path to remind us to pay attention to where we are and where we are going. I no longer need a new belt as my reminder so have no intention or desire to test again (an amazing feeling of freedom as a result). My students are concerned about my worn belt. What will I do when my belt actually wears out and breaks? Just grab my pants and go on teaching.
Master Edward Rugh
Chung Do Kwan.