A Letter To Grandmaster Choi
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A Letter To Grandmaster Choi

앋녕하심니까.

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A Letter To Grandmaster Choi
Self-taken

안녕하심니까 (an-nyeong-ha-shim-ni-kka) Master Choi,

It has been about three ears since you moved back to Korea and since we stopped taking taekwondo lessons. You must be disappointed that we did not continue our stretches, because now my sisters and I are not very flexible. Imagine how much more flexible we would be if we had just done stretches everyday even if we hadn't continued taekwondo. 참 안됐다.

Remember the first few weeks when you wrote Korean names on our uniforms? I gave you my middle name, 니걸, rather than my first name since I thought it sounded more Korean. You were nicer to us the fist few weeks, then when we all got comfortable with each other, you did not hesitate at all to forcibly groin-stretch us—giving us many days of soreness since you challenged our physical limits. I thought those moments were very funny, but I felt slightly fearful when you would come to my part of the mat and mercilessly stretch my legs. Remember when I went to the bathroom just to get out of doing stretches but you noticed my sneaky method and made me do extra laps? I am laughing just as I reminisce.

Before we began each class, you made us do laps around the studio and then stretch. In the first weeks when we ran laps, I remember almost passing out since I hated running. I still hate running. Sorry Master Choi.

When you thought we were ready, you made us try sparring. Sparring with you and then with each other. You had us do kicks on those black pads and when we could not kick high enough, you gave us friendly thigh pats. By friendly, I mean the opposite: unfriendly.Your kicks were a little vicious, but my older sister was—and still is—more relentless than you were. Your kicks were like half a bee sting. Hers were like three. Oh, sparring.

When we took our first belt test, you brought out wooden boards for each of us. I did not expect to chop boards so early. I mean, Master Choi, I thought that part of taekwondo didn't come until we reached the black belt test. I was so nervous, I did not think I would be able to break the board, much less make a single dent. But to my surprise, I broke through that wooden challenge. My sisters and I actually chopped those wooden boards.

For a reason I still do not know, you went to Korea for a few weeks and your son took over. I find it unreasonable now, but I had a tiny crush on your very old son. I cringe at my silly fresh-out-of-highschool-sophomore-year-self. 미안합니다 Master Choi. Because of that momentary lapse in judgment, I found it difficult to properly execute taekwondo during class. I am disappointed in myself. When you came back, you have no idea how ecstatic I was to start being mercilessly stretched by you. ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ.

One time I saw you smoking in the hidden back room of the studio. As someone I grew to respect because of the way you exercised discipline, I felt disappointed as you lacked to discipline yourself. Though I should have been concerned about the other kids who may see you as a source of influence, I was more concerned about your physical health. I could not muster up the courage to talk to you about it, so I waited until the right time.

Unfortunately, the right time was when the taekwondo studio went bankrupt and you had to move back to Korea. I knew you saw me cry, but I was glad you did not approach me because I would have cried harder. In all that time, I realize now that I focused more on holding reverence for you rather than the sport itself. You taught me to have physical and mental strength, but also to laugh once in a while because life should not be taken seriously all the time. I bow to you in the same way I bowed to you for the last time, in 90 degree head-and-back-faced-to-the-floor-fashion.

Though much of the physical strength has drained from my body, the mental stuff stuck with me for a while. I hope your memories of us stuck too. I hope Korea is treating you well. 다음에 봐요.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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