Tuesday, August 10, 2004


I will practice with courtesy, loyalty and respect. I will live having honor, integrity and self control.

These are the vows that I, along with every other person in my Tae Kwon Do studio, had to recite every class, beginning and end, before we bowed in and out to our instructors. In between bowing in and out, we would focus on our art, the physical and spiritual aspects. We listened to our instructors lecture about the "black belt way of life" and the "black belt spirit." We were told to never lose focus, do our best, lift each other up, and NEVER quit.

I quit my Tae Kwon Do studio. Well, I haven't "officially" yet, but that is only because I haven't had the chance. I will be going in tomorrow to speak with my instructor.

You want to know why? Four reasons, each building up on the other until I reached my breaking point.

#1 My best friend, Dez, stopped going to our studio a little over a year ago when she started going to school full time and working full time. She was an instructor and second degree black belt. She and our head instructor had always had a volatile love/hate relationship. They were in the hate stage when she left. She came to watch me test earlier this year and afterward, he muscled in on her saying,"Do you want to talk to me?" She was rude, I give him that, but nothing excused his loss of SELF CONTROL when he started screaming at her, in front of other students, to get out and never set foot in his studio again, before he stormed off swearing and hitting the wall. He apologized later, but by then, I had sworn to get my black belt and get out. Only a year left.

#2 My other favorite instructor, who had practiced and taught at our studio for 15 years, was suddenly gone. Just gone. This happened right at the end of my "mental health" hiatus that I took at the beginning of this year. I came back, he wasn't there, and if we asked why, we were told nothing. I finally got it from one of my friends that works there that he was fired. The head instructor never told anyone and we were reprimanded if we were caught talking about him. Where is the COURTESY when you won't tell the children that were taught by this man where their instructor went? Where is the RESPECT to this intructor who gave up a lot of his life for not a lot money just out of love and loyalty to the studio? Then I also heard from a black belt that our head instructor was telling select people that the fired instructor had been soliciting prescription drugs from one of the students that is a doctor. Whether that is true or not, is there HONOR and INTEGRITY in spreading around a rumor about a man who is not there to defend themself? "One year left till my black belt. I can hang in there."

#3 My studio sponsored a program at the local schools for underpriveleged kids called Swiftkick, in partnership with the local police department. My head instructor would go to schools and teach the basics of martial arts and self defense. Last month, some kids that were not in the program were taunting my instructor and he took discipline into his own hands and grabbed them and threw them to the ground. He ASSAULTED grade school kids! Where is the SELF CONTROL? Needless to say, he lost the Swiftkick program. But I am SO close to my black belt, just hang in there...

#4 One of my friends, who is a second degree black belt along with being the nicest, sweetest person that I have ever known, had to back out of volunteering for the four day black belt camp because she was still going to get charged $150 to volunteer and she couldn't afford it. When she told our instructor, he took this 18 year old girl, went alone with her into his office, shut the door and blinds, stood two inches from her face and screamed and cursed at her for an hour. She quit that day and so did her brother, who was an instructor and 3rd degree black belt.

That was the final straw for me. To BOW to this man and say I will live with honor, integrity and self control? No way, Jose. I made the decision then and there that I was done. I will set foot in that studio only to tell him I am through. I spent Saturday looking for a new studio and found one (that's another post). My new sensei has given me advice on what to say (he knows my former instructor very well.) I was at first going to get a doctor's note to get out of my contract since my knee is still not healed, but I decided that if I am leaving based on honor and integrity issues, I will leave WITH honor and integrity. I am going to be truthful and tell him why I am leaving and let him know it will be beneficial for us both to let me leave quietly. I will only tell one person in my class why I am leaving and it is because she is a very good friend. If he fights me though, I will not leave quietly.

I am sad about leaving my studio. I have been there for three years, watched little girls grow into young women, teenage punks grow into gentlemen. I have a lot of friends and was looking forward to going through the rigors of our black belt year with them.

That chapter of my life is done now. I am starting fresh with a new studio, a new art.

To be continued...


Blogger GreenTuna said...

Wow. That is quite a post. I know how difficult it is to pick up and leave something you once love, admired and respected. I give you a lot of kudos for having the personal integrity to stand up say "enough". Good luck to you, and may you find the studio where "Courtsey, Loyalty, Respect, Honor, Integrity and Self Control" are more than mere words, but are true ways of life. Be strong.

11:46 AM  

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