(as seen in ATA World Magazine - June 2010)
by Lysne Tait
I did not want to join taekwondo. I had been watching for 7 years and I enjoyed being a taekwondo mom. I enjoyed my relationship with the school owner Mr. Elijio Martinez and his wife, the respect of the other students, and the ability to chat with the other TKD moms during class. I loved watching my boys and my husband do something they loved. Besides, I wasn't (and had never been) very athletic. Then, our school changed owners, my youngest decided to join taekwondo, and my mom's cancer returned. I thought all I needed was an outlet, but what I found and what ATA has provided for me was so much more.
I joined Master Flotka's ATA Black Belt Academy in DeWitt, MI in January 2009 with my 5 year old daughter. I was worried because classes were held at night - right around dinner time. How could I juggle the kids' classes, adult classes, dinner, and bedtime, and remain sane? My family stepped up. My son Liam (a 2nd degree Black Belt) had been urging me to join for years. He offered to babysit the younger kids while I was in class. Molly (my 5 year old) was just excited that we were the same belt color. My other son Adam (then a blue belt) would coach me on my kicks and stances, and my husband, Craig (also a 2nd degree Black Belt), offered to make dinner once a week (and help me learn my material and sparring, and ferry kids to and from classes). Our new school owner, Master Carl Flotka, a Sixth Degree Black Belt with more than 30 years experience also started a morning class twice a week, and that clinched the deal.
After watching hundreds of taekwondo classes, I thought I knew what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. I have never been surrounded by so many people who wanted me to succeed. For the first time in twelve years it was all about me. I have been a teacher, a wife, a mother, a friend - always worried about the welfare of others - and here I was, learning some something new, with people who wanted me to do my best. Taekwondo may be a competitive sport; the learning of taekwondo is not. At the end of my first class, I was in tears: overwhelmed by the kindness and support of my family, my instructors and my fellow classmates.
I was also in a position that I hadn't known in quite awhile - that of a newbie. For years I have been the expert, or at least pretended to be the expert. Joining taekwondo was a new beginning. I would get upset with myself because I couldn't remember 3 steps in a row, and my husband would admonish me by saying, "It's new. You’ve never done it before. It’s OK to not get it right the first, or third or fifth time."
I never expected to enjoy taekwondo. I never expected the friendships I've found, or the sense of accomplishment and pride I feel. I've been to 3 tournaments in the past year, and had an awesome time at each one. I've lost weight, tightened and toned, and feel incredible. Perhaps the most unexpected and life-enriching benefit is that of the family I've found. Taekwondo members cared for my house and dogs when we were called away to take care of my mom during her final week. I came back to DeWitt to a clean house, a stocked refrigerator, and flowers and other treats. But that’s simply what family does for one another.