I spent a part of this week reading my blog posts from last year. Month by month I grew further away from Taekwondo and closer to full time MMA. During 2014 I was becoming more and more disenchanted with Taekwondo. I had spent a large portion of the year off with various injuries, silly things like broken fingers, toes and hamstring strains. Missing 2, 3 or 6 weeks every month or so took its toll on me mentally. I wasn’t enjoying doing Taekwondo, teaching Taekwondo or watching Taekwondo. So in 2015 I started to venture away from it.
In my early career I was driven, I would come home from training and watch Taekwondo matches; I was completely absorbed in the sport. But when Taekwondo became serious for me it became a job, it wasn’t me wishing to go to training; it was me having to go to training. When I started being competitive at the higher levels in Australia and started venturing overseas an Olympic cycle was more of a reality and in candid honesty the pressure weighed me down.
I have done a lot of ‘Taekwondo bashing’ in my previous posts, expressing my frustrations at funding, support, rankings and the culture. This was incredibly selfish of me and I am sorry. I am not apologizing to anyone in particular but rather to Taekwondo itself. What I have been able to develop in Taekwondo, athleticism, kicking prowess, work ethic, indomitable spirit and speed have been invaluable in my journeys into other martial arts. I forgot where I came from and spent a good portion of 2015 in a negative mindset.
It has taken me until now to realize it but I needed that time off from Taekwondo to reach my full potential. I went from doing 8 Taekwondo sessions a week to none. All I was doing was kickboxing, BJJ and MMA sparring. After the Australian Open last year I watched the elite Taekwondo athletes compete and I realized what I was giving up. I set my sights on the National Taekwondo Championships and a few months later I won it.
We all want a lot out of life; our goals are how a lot of us define ourselves. Without high level Taekwondo as a goal I found myself questioning my place in the world. Ronda Rousey recently lost her UFC World Championship in devastating style. She has said that in that moment, without the belt she ‘didn’t know what she was, without it’. That really resonated with me. I didn’t really know I missed Taekwondo until I came back.
You have to know what you have. Know that in your life there will be challenges, chances to go another way but sometimes the road most traveled is most traveled for a reason.