Three Golden Rules

1st Dan paper by Sarah Cerrone

When I was about nine, my father laid down the law for the first time. He told my sister and I  (who was a year younger) that we would be enrolled in martial arts and that in order for us to ever gain the privilege of dating we would have to: 1. Be sixteen 2. Have our driver’s License and 3. Be a black belt. Knowing my dad I knew that I wouldn’t be able to deny his fantastical Idea that he had dreamed up. So being a nine year old who had no desire to date, ever, I was enrolled in the Tae Kwon Do class at Green Mountain Rec Center. For the first few lessons my sister and I tried our best in the back of the class to mimic the upper belts while secretly attempting to catch a glimpse of Disney channel through the door. During the first few ranks I thought that Tae Kwon Do was an unavoidable chore that was inescapable.  My sister and I tried everything we could think of to get out of it: pretending to be sick, looking sick, actually being sick, homework, stress, and crying, nothing worked! My Father would not be moved.

Yet, by the time I got to be a blue belt, Tae Kwon Do felt less and less like a chore and more like a release. There I was free to vent my frustration, escape my teachers and their overpowering homework assignments, and just punch things for a little while. When I came to be a red belt a realization hit me, I was actually good at this. Unlike my brothers and sister I never had been a natural athlete and I had to really work hard to get good at something. Now that I was good and actually enjoyed Tae Kwon Do I started focusing more and more. I started practicing, truly practicing and tried my best to get to black. When we were one rank away from Black our instructor moved to China.

That was my situation when the Mountain Academy of Martial Arts invaded our school and at first I didn’t know what to think of it. I didn’t want to relearn anything, not when I had been so close. I felt so lost and angry. Then my Dad reminded me of the three golden rules and how I would have to stick it out. He really didn’t give me a choice. So I did. I started to willingly let myself be enchanted by the MAMA’s curriculum. And boy was there a lot to learn.  There was stuff that I never would have had the chance to learn at my old school: weapon Forms, and hand, wrist, and clothing techniques. After all who didn’t want to learn how to whack things with sticks? Little by little I gave up the ITF I was brought up with and brought into the fold of the WTF. (The World Tae Kwon Do federation not what we’re all thinking).

So now here I am, fifteen, with my permit, and about to test for my black belt. Funny enough I feel as if the driver’s license will be the hardest thing to accomplish because I know I won’t be able to kick my way through that bureaucracy.