I am a second degree black belt and a breast cancer survivor. I am a mother of 3, grandmother of 1 and a breast cancer survivor. I am a wife, an aunt, a cousin, a daughter, a co-worker and a breast cancer survivor. I am an instructor and a breast cancer survivor. This is all important. Why? Because you don't get to be a black belt without persevering. You don't survive motherhood without a little ingenuity. And you don't get to be a cancer survivor without courage. You don't get to be these very important parts of who I am without some sort of moxy that you have that no one else has. I am loyal. I am steadfast. I am honest. I have integrity. I have courage. I have honor. I am courteous. I have humility. You may not think that with what I've said here, but humility is not putting yourself down but acknowledging your strengths. It is about understanding your weaknesses and being open and honest about who you are without pride and haughtiness.
I am a proud member of the Tiger Rock Martial Arts International. If this was the early 1900's and I worked for the railroad, you would say of me that I'm a company man. I may not agree with everything they do, but I understand the mission of the organization and wholeheartedly support it. I do everything I can to further that mission and make Tiger Rock TKD a part of every household. There is something for everyone no matter your age, physical ability, or disability. Every time I step out my door I am an ambassador for Tiger Rock and my academy. It doesn't matter if I have my uniform on or not, or even if the average person knows that I train in martial arts. What matters is that they notice how open and honest I am; notice my confidence and my moxy. And they realize they want it for themselves. The tenets we recite are not just words; they are a way of life. We as adults in the art must model them for our students because if we don't live by them, how can we ask our students to live by them?
I joined the academy when I saw what a great time my daughter was having. I needed a scheduled workout routine. After the first night when I got the jitters out I was hooked. I couldn't get enough. I wanted to do well. I wanted to succeed. I was actually good at a sport for the first time in my life where it didn't involve horses. I had my eye on being an instructor from the time I turned green belt. And when I tested for instructor I was asked how far I was willing to go on this journey. My answer? All the way. Right up through black belt and beyond, a certified instructor and eventually, academy owner. I'm still on that journey and I'm succeeding. Each cycle I learn something new. Each testing I learn where I can improve. Each time I judge I learn how I can help my students be better. There is no greater satisfaction than watching a student blossom from a nervous white belt into a confident black belt, seeing their improvement month by month. It is an awesome feeling to watch my students compete and bring home medals. Not to mention the rush I feel when I break a board. There is not one student I know that I don't want to hug and take home with me. I feel committed to them and to their journey. I want them to see how excited I am and to own that excitement for themselves. This is no ordinary journey I'm on and I don't take my post lightly.
But how is all this possible with all the bumps in my road lately? It's because Tiger Rock's mission and system delivery make it possible for me to continue my journey. I don't know of any other martial arts training systems where I could have life and body altering surgery and not have to sit out for months or years. That's where you lose students, especially adults. They'll not want to come back knowing how difficult it might be to start training again, afraid of getting hurt or injured. With the options offered by Tiger Rock, I can continue my journey - more slowly than when I'm 100% - but that's ok. I'm still moving forward and it means the world to me. It helps me deal with the stress of surgeries, pain, cancer treatments, and depression. How can I possibly be depressed when I see those smiling faces walk through that door just waiting to learn something new and hit something really hard! Through TKD I've made lifelong friends, met some exciting people in the organization, availed myself of optional training like yoga and kisado, and used the tournaments to keep me fresh and motivated to do better. All these work together as part of my road to recovery. I am 100% committed to the organization, to my academy, to my instructors, to my friends, to my fellow artists. I turned down a job offer recently. There were many reasons why, but one in particular. I didn't want the pressure of a new job to deter me from my TKD journey. That's how big a part of me my training is. I have my family, my job where I make a living, and TKD - that's who I am now.
Anything that threatens to unravel my place at the academy and purport to end my journey is not looked upon favorably. Conniving, scheming, lying, twisting words and actions, and going against every tenet is something I could never do. There are those kinds of people in the world; you probably know a few. How could they recite the tenets and then twist them into something ugly is beyond me. I thought that my recent cancer journey had changed who I was, made me into someone I didn't want to be. I learned that did not happen. Thanks to people such as those, I realized I still allow second chances; to keep confidences; and to not betray those I love and count as friends. I'm not perfect but my friends and family can trust my heart. I will still do the right thing over and over again and not be bitter when the good is not returned. I will still sleep at night knowing I did not intentionally cause someone pain and anguish. I am still the person I know God wants me to be - upstanding, upright and true of heart. I am the black belt cancer survivor who lives by the tenets - honor, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, courage, community, strength, humility and knowledge. I am Tiger Rock.