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First grading, done!

First Taekwondo grading, done! What an experience. I felt totally out of my comfort zone, but I moved with as much conviction as I could during the night. 110% effort and focus for every movement – I still felt clunky and my muscles still forgot where they were supposed to be half the time, but I’m hoping that purpose will have shown through all that.

I’m told it’s actually quite hard to fail this first grading so I’m not too concerned about passing. But I’m not in this thing to tick off the belts and walk away – I’m facing this damn surgery to deal with this stupid, stupid chronic illness, so I’m there to learn, train and fight with everything I have while I still can. Who knows how long I’ll be as physically capable and free as I am now, so every training session, every late-night practice after my kids are asleep, every grading session – I’ll be going through every one of them as if it’s my last.

It’s school holidays here now, so we have a two week break from training – there’s no way I can wait that long to hear how it went, so I’m off to drop the grading instructor an email. Fingers crossed!

All going well, I can’t wait to start learning my first full pattern – Chon-Ji Tul.

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Grading day!

Last time I went through one of these I was 4 feet tall, had a pack of WWF cards in my back pocket, and spent my downtime playing an Atari.

Time is a funny thing.

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That’s me standing on the left there, in my first ever Karate grading back in the 1980s.

Fast forward over 20 years and it’s time to do it all again – only one day to go until I hit my first Taekwondo grading!

I reckon I was feeling less nervous in that photo than I will be tomorrow night…

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Grading Time for the Rookie!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao-tzu

Three months into my Taekwondo training and I feel like I’m standing at the foot of a mountain. It’s equally daunting and exhilarating – I haven’t really gone anywhere yet, but I’m starting to understand just how much lies ahead. How much I have to discover, learn, practice and master. How much pain there’ll be, focus I’ll need, failures I’ll need to push past and victories I will celebrate.

My first grading is next week – from 10th gup (white belt) to 9th gup (yellow stripe). It’s a simple grading – some basic stances and offensive/defensive techniques, two fundamental exercises (four direction punch/four direction block, which I guess are a basic precursor to patterns), and a bit of theory. It would be easy to take this grading lightly but I want to avoid that trap – I’ve been practicing hard and want to nail it with  the cleanest pass possible.

6 days and counting – can’t wait to test myself.


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Symptoms Flashback

I often wonder how long I’ve had this disease. I was diagnosed in 2010, but there’s no doubt I had it for some time before that.

A few months before? Definitely. I spent 6 months prior to diagnosis training for my first marathon through which the symptoms increased in intensity. By the time the marathon neared I was ending every run literally soaked in blood.

Years before? Most likely. Back in my mid 20s I remember sitting with my head in my hands, in tears after Googling potential outcomes because I’d noticed some light bleeding that just wasn’t going away. A trip to the doctor settled that as a little ‘cut’ from ‘rough food’, but now I know better.

A decade before? Yeah, probably. I spent my University years suffering from varying degrees of stomach pain and fatigue. I’m fairly sure that was the start of it all…

Hindsight can be quite chilling – thinking back through the symptoms I experienced, watching them get worse and worse…and then finally, the diagnosis. Almost feels surreal!

Anyone else feel this way?