Third Degree, 72 Years Old

A bit of history:

Two at the judging table, Master Tony Morris, and my older daughter Master Juli Bowman were instrumental in my decision to begin my Tae Kwon Do practice. I vividly remember seeing the two of them spar when Juli visited here in the spring of 2007 I thought to myself…I could give this a try!

Now after seven years as of this month, I am at a point in my practice that was not on my radar screen in 2007 when I began. In fact, I had doubts about ever becoming a Black Belt, not to mention a 3rd degree.

Now to the present:

Master Morris requested that I relate to how this black belt journey has positively influenced my life. This has been a bit awkward for me, as in spite of being of a talkative and social nature, I remain a rather private person.

Frankly, the journey has been a continuum, beginning at that first class as a white belt in August:

  • I had always felt the need to improve physically, through strength training, running and cycling, but never was what most would term an accomplished athlete.

What changed when starting this practice was instead doing it alone:

  • I have had a team working with me the entire journey, class by class, month by month, and belt by belt to insure my success.
  • I began to welcome criticism, well most of the time, as a means of improvement.
  • I see the importance of the guidance and help rather than the merely to say I did it.

My attitude is not perfect, but what I have learned is:

  • It’s not how many years have passed, but how many remain.
  • It’s not the mistakes and failures I’ve had (I have missed breaking two boards via a side kick in five of five belt levels), it’s the mental toughness and improvement opportunity I gain.
  • It’s not how much physical strength and agility has been lost, but how much remains, and the degree to which I can actually improve.
  • It’s not so much what or how long the journey had been, but how it has equipped me for the trip in the future.
  • Finally, it’s not what abilities I have compared to far more talented peers, but how I explore the limits to the abilities I have.

Finally, I want to say a few words in appreciation of those who have helped me get to today:

First my family

My partner in marriage for nearly 51 years, Sandra, you have endured my passion for Tae Kwon Do, encouraged me when I’m unsure, and sacrificed a traditional (if there is such a state) retirement. You are my best friend, my joy, and my favorite athlete.

It’s a joy having our two grown daughters and four grandchildren here and marvel at how wonderful and successful they are. As an aside, Juli, I assume you have awarded me no less than 80 in my testing thus far today.

To my Tae Kwon Do family, I truly appreciate all of you, but I much mention a few by name.

  • My sidekick, Amy Dexter, my practice partner. Your persistence, unselfish nature, and amazing skill are an inspiration.
  • Elizabeth Goyer, I want to thank you for your continued focus and attention to the details of my performance, particularly in forms practice.
  • My friend, gifted athlete and scholar, 3rd degree Taylor Davis, you have helped me make this practice such fun, and I wish you well in your academic and professional journey.
  • Ethan Morris, you a junior black belt at I recall 10 years old when I started, you inspire everyone with your precision and teaching skills in practice. Plus, your accomplishments outside of Tae Kwon Do are equally inspiring.
  • A renaissance man of skills in many areas in life including TKD, Michael Dickinson, you have been such help to my progress by both instruction and example.
  • Master Morris, you have always believed in me, challenged me to explore the limits of my ability, and insisted I can be the best I can be. You have established a legacy of success which each of us can inherit.
  • Finally, Karen, Marilyn & Dina, you, “The Iron Ladies”, like me started your practice here at later in your life journey and are models of persistence.

In closing:

There once was a man named Randy,
Who considered himself as dandy,
At age 65, he started Tae Kwon Do,
Just to see how far he could go,
And today his 3rd degree is now handy!