When I was 13 years old I weighed in at 175 lbs. I went to private school where I was the biggest kid there. Of course, the class was only made up of 20 students.. but I was still the biggest one there. The summer before my Freshman year of high school my Dad decided that it was time to lose weight. He signed me up for Tae Kwon Do at a studio across town. My instructors name was Jae Kim. He was a Korean man who had taught martial arts in the Korean Army. His English was poor, but that did not stop him from yelling at you. When he was really mad it came out in Korean and that was terrifying. For 3 months he did everything in his power to make me cry.. and trust me, I did. At the same time I learned enough Korean to understand him (which made for a lot less screaming on his end), I dropped 30 lbs and became a lot more confident in myself. I participated in tournaments and won my share of trophies. I was strong, inside and out.
There are two reasons I told you all this. The first one is because tonight is my first Karate class and I am getting that familiar boulder in my stomach that I used to get. I am 17 years older now, but am just as terrified.
The second reason... while I was in the city last weekend we pulled into a parking lot to use the phone when I realized that I was parked right in front of that Tae Kwon Do studio. The lights were on but it looked empty. I tried the door and it swung out.. I walked around all the mats and made my way to the back office. He was sitting at his desk trying to fix a drawer. He looked up and asked me if I needed something. At first I didn't think he remembered me, but then there was a glimmer of light in his eyes and with a great big smile he said 'Chris!!???!!' (a hint of what my real name is!)
His first question was of my Dad. He used to play golf with my dad all the time.. and of course they talked a lot while I would train. Dad never missed a single day of my training. Mr. Kim did not know that my Dad had passed away. A tear came to his eye. I never thought I would see the day I saw a tear in this mans eyes. That's when I noticed his hands. They shook uncontrollably. He said they did not know what was wrong, that it was like Parkinsons but not. Suddenly the monster that plagued my nightmares as a child was human. He was a friend.
Jae Kim had been my mentor.. my coach.. my nightmare... but in the end he made me who I am and I wanted to thank him. Last night I told my husband that I am going to do this Karate class to honor Jae Kim... I am going to lose this weight to honor my Dad. They new what was inside of me before I did... and I let all of that get lost. Its time to get it back. I may not be the next 'Karate Kid'.. but I will be that strong woman that they brought out 17 years ago.