Thursday, January 24, 2008

Day 132



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.

9 comments:

Cara said...

That's a very touching story. I can't wait to hear how the class goes :-0

Laura N said...

Beautiful. That's amazing that he was still there. I love that picture of you, all bright and smiley as a teenager.

Hope your karate class goes well.

Fatinah said...

ok. Two things:

1) your post made me cry
2) I can't believe your REAL name isn't Tigerlilly!!!

HAHAHAHA

MilitaryMom said...

Isn't it funny how the people you feared and hated as a child are the very people you come to respect and idolize the most as an adult? I feel the same way about my old supervisors and a few teachers. I hope you LOVE your new class, and I know you will kick ass!

ClaireBoe said...

Ack, now I have tears in my eyes. How awesome to have those kind of motivational people in your life. Blessings to you, "Chris." :-)

Cory said...

Very touching. I'm glad you got to talk to your old sensei again. That's great.

(And you're looking awesome! Keep it up!)

richenza said...

I remember those days. It's good to hear that you are getting back into karate - I think that competition is good for the blood. Plus, it is easier to do things that are scheduled.

I think your dad would be proud of you no matter what. He always wanted you to be a fighter, and not just physically. That's how I remember him, anyway. Which - it sounds like he and Jae Kim had a lot in common.

good luck...

Carol Bardelli said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post. I had a similar experience in that a teacher I once feared due to his strict approach later became a close friend. I love karate too! You go girl! Hi Ya!

robyn479 said...

What an awesome story!