My Entry into Taekwon-Do - Sravya Bikki
Growing up in various mining towns in India, I have had opportunities in learning to dance, paint, sing and play sports but martial arts was not one of them. Back then not many had the opportunity to learn a martial art. Even if one had, most of the parents worried that their kid would grow up to be a violent person by learning a martial art.
Further, back in those days most of them I knew were unaware and martial arts were perceived masculine and that continues to some extent in 21st century too. A lot of girls would not get the opportunity for the same reason and some parents thought that it would be difficult to get them married. If they were to ask me today, I would confidently convince them otherwise and explain all the benefits that one would get. When I was little, I never knew what Martial arts meant. The most common martial art if someone ever mentioned was Karate. After I finished my high school, I had this sudden interest to learn Karate. This was not inspired by Hollywood movies but by desire to protect myself from bullies that I might meet in College. Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to learn Karate in the small town.
On the other hand, when I mentioned that to my parents, they believed that martial art is meant to be learned at early ages of 6 or 7. They discouraged me for the fear of accidents or bruising my face. They grew up in an educated but conservative household and they had their own concerns. So, my interest went down the drain.
Eventually I moved to a different city to pursue graduation and the interest in learning a martial art never surfaced again. I lived in college hostel which had conservative policies and students are required to report back to the hostel warden by 6pm. The warden would take an attendance to check all the students are back in hostel premises. Despite that, there were opportunities to learn martial art. But the idea of learning a martial art was forgotten in pursuit of education and jobs.
I finished my graduation and then joined a multinational IT giant, TATA Consultancy Services Ltd, as a trainee software engineer. I moved to Trivandrum in the state of Kerala. Kerala state is known for its ancient Indian martial art “Kalarippayattu” and also renowned for its picturesque locations to visit. In one of the job training sessions, our trainer announced that there were going to be Karate Classes thrice a week nearby our office. That was an effort by the company to teach female employees self-defence. That effort was after a huge incident that happened in New Delhi where a female medical student was sexually assaulted brutally and died fighting for life in hospital. There was a worldwide outrage and media coverage. But it raised the importance of learning a martial art and self-defence. Despite that and many such incidents, a lot of parents didn’t, and still don’t, really get excited at the idea of learning Self Defence and Martial art. It could be any of the reasons. I do understand that not everyone gets the opportunity or has an interest. However, I noticed that some of them have interest and opportunity but are not encouraged. My parents found the idea really weird, but I attended a couple of classes anyway. I enjoyed those couple of sessions and wished that I learnt it earlier. After my training ended, I moved to Hyderabad city. I had the opportunity to look for classes and join yet did not utilised it. Looking back, I blame myself equally for not learning a martial art. It would have given me lot of inner strength and courage to handle bullying better. It would have changed my perspective.
Later, I moved to the United States to pursue a Masters in Engineering. While I was in the US, I lived in Houston with my Sister and Brother in Law. I met one of my cousins often in Houston, her son had started learning Taekwondo. That again went straight over my head in the pursuit of Master’s degree. I never went to see him grading. I remember him demonstrating us “Saju Jirugi- Four Directional Punch”. Back then, I thought the movements were interesting but never understood what he was up to. Eventually, I finished my Masters and then married and moved to Australia. No intentions of learning a martial art yet, just lived a married life oblivious to idea of learning a martial art.
In 2018 I visited my sister in the US to see my newborn Niece and then happened to meet my cousin and the nephew who learned taekwondo. He is now a first dan black belt holder who eventually lost interest in the martial art. I encouraged him to continue learning to the fullest potential.
After the visit, I flew back to Australia, I had to move to a different place at the end of lease. I moved to Chermside. After moving, one day I really wanted to learn something that would make me happy and something that would help me grow. I wanted to have an activity for myself that I would enjoy being committed to and something that would be a part of my life. I remembered Indian Classical dance and Martial arts. I weighed the Martial art with dance classes and realised that I would more likely stay committed to Martial art. I googled for classes. I saw a couple of Taekwondo classes in walkable distance. I tried them and decided to join ITF SEQ -Practical Self Defence and Original Taekwondo. When I tried different classes, ITF SEQ had multiple instructors. I realised that they would give individual attention and that I wouldn’t be lost in the crowd.
I joined on 11 November 2018 and I am still a part of ITF SEQ. My nephew’s Saju Jirugi made sense now. I have graded five times so far. There has been not a day when I regretted joining Taekwondo classes at ITF SEQ. There was not a session that I have not enjoyed. I joined with no expectations but just to enjoy learning a physical activity. Every session has been a pure happiness and bliss. I would credit that to Sahyun Anthony, Sabum Michael, Sabum Jackson, Boo-Sabums Leah and Jen. There have been days when I felt that I would die in the training hall with shortness of breath and because my heart never beat so fast in my life. But I have realised that the human body is miraculous, and one can stretch their abilities if they choose to.
I have never once thought that I would be able to stand on one leg in the first place but learning the side piercing kick has stretched my abilities and beliefs. Although I am still at blue tip training towards blue belt after almost two years of training, I have gained the spirit to fight on. I am more confident. I do not let the pressure of belt testing take over. I have come to enjoy the process of learning correctly and completely. Learning Taekwondo has made my mind clearer and stronger. I have come to appreciate what it means by being soft yet strong. I have raised my standards in terms of learning and efforts. Based on all my experiences, I would encourage anyone at any age to learn taekwondo and enjoy the process. I would tell anyone not to let age or gender be a hindrance to learning Taekwon-D0.
I hope that one day I will be an instructor too and pass on Taekwon-Do knowledge that I have gained from all the instructors.