Taekwondo: A First Impression

It is, apparently, called a dojo.  This much I have learned.  When you enter the dojo, you put your hand over your heart and say something in Korean.  I couldn’t hear it exactly, so I just said, “God Bless America,” because I figured that would do.

No I didn’t.  I pretended I knew the Korean.

But at first I was reserved and cautious and saying hi to the men and women, being all like, “Is Master Kim going to throw me to the wolves?”  And Jesse, an art teacher who’s earning her masters degree, said, “Nah, you’ll be fine.”  I figured if Jesse could swing it, at five-six and two hundred pounds, I could swing it, too.

So I God Blessed America and entered the dojo.

Master Kim, the instructor, is awesome–funny and self-effacing.  His English isn’t great, but it’s better than my Korean.  (An aside, and a quick question for Koreans:  why do the numbers six and seven sound so much alike?  Or maybe it’s five and six.  No matter.  The question is why.)  He led us through twenty-five minutes of increasingly strenuous stretches, all the while demonstrating how to do the stretches properly himself.  There was only one other person in the room who could do the stretches properly.  It was not me.  It was the man next to me, a native Korean and apprentice teacher.  He made us all look bad.

So Master Kim led us through the stretches and I got the hang of shouting “One, Sir!  Two, Sir!  Three, Sir!” and so on at the top of my lungs.  It felt good.  By the end of the stretches I was shouting like a pro.  And then we got into the punching and kicking aspect.  AKA the Kicking Serious Ass aspect.  The Kicking Serious Ass aspect was awesome.  It was the awesomest.  We got to punch the air, hard.  We got to punch the air, kick the air, then punch the air again and go back into our original position, hard.  It was all hard.  Everything was balls to the motherfucking wall.  We grabbed big pads, paired up, and walked up and down the dojo, kicking the shit out of those pads.  Hard.  I already mentioned that.  It’s a given at this point.  We did push ups while our partners held pads, and punched the pads at the top of the push up.  Hard.  It was awesome.  And at the end, we all stood silent, looking directly in front of us (hard) and focused on a cool down.  Then we did cool down stretches, saluted the flags of the United States and South Korea, and left the dojo once more.

You God Bless America when you leave the dojo, too.

As I said before, this is going to be awesome.


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