Monday, October 22, 2012

A joyful tournament

In my last post I mentioned the Oct. 20th New England Open Taekwondo Tournament that was taking place in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.  Well, the event has come and gone, but the joy lives on.
   Joy?  If you're not familiar with martial-arts tournaments, you may have something ruthless and brutal in mind.  Just the opposite, in fact.  What I found at Grandmaster Young A. Kwon's tournament was the usual healthy dose of friendship and camaraderie that outweighs the serious competition.  In this case what you would have seen, had you been there, was one large Taekwondo family joyfully applying the most important of rules: good sportsmanship, discipline, and respect.  Was there stiff competition?  Sure.  But the winners were all those who stepped onto the mat and tried their best . . . not just the ones who walked away with medals. 
   Grandmaster Kwon's tournament drew 300 competitors from ages 5 through 66 in a variety of events: poomsae [formal routines], breaking, and sparring.  It was especially encouraging to see so many youngsters displaying skills that you simply wouldn't expect to find at ages 9 or 14 or 17.  Since Taekwondo is an Olympic sport, it's great to know that several generations of American athletes are already training seriously.
   Here's another bit of good news.  While I sat in the stands chatting with other competitors, I bumped into guys in their sixties who were just beginning their Taekwondo training.  Taekwondo isn't just for the young or for those who have been training for decades.  If you find the right senior-friendly school, you can begin Taekwondo at any age and benefit from the total mind/body fitness program that comes with it.  There's no upper age limit.  This is a lifetime activity that asks only for you to do your best.
   If you already attend a senior-friendly school, please tell me about it so that I can write something for "Seniors in the Martial Arts."  No charge.  I just want to help other seniors find their way into the exciting and beneficial world of martial arts.
   In the meantime, I offer my sincere congratulations and appreciation to Grandmaster Young A. Kwon for a fine tournament.  I know that several hundred of us are eagerly awaiting the 21st New England Open Taekwondo Tournament in 2013.