Living, Healing and Taekwondo

Living, Healing and Taekwondo

by Laura Probert Mpt


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452548494
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 04/02/2012
Pages: 214
Sales rank: 745,154
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.45(d)

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Balboa Press

Copyright © 2012 Laura Probert, MPT
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4525-4849-4

Chapter One

Taekwondo Belt Color Meanings

There are several books and websites that talk about the meanings of the belt colors. In Taekwondo there are two governing federations, the International Taekwondo Federation and the World Taekwondo Federation. They each have their own system of forms, rules and guidelines. Depending on who your instructor is and who their instructor was, you will practice under one of these sets of guidelines. At Gentle East Taekwondo, where I practice, we follow the ITF, and the following definitions come from there.

The ITF website talks about taekwondo being a way of life. It states, "To demonstrate the value of ITF Taekwon-Do as a way of life, we must teach all facets of ITF Taekwon-Do, including the Do." Do means "The way." It goes on to say "The ultimate purpose in life is the search for happiness." "Many people suffer because they do not have the proper value system that leads to a balanced life and happiness."

I believe that my journey has been about this exact search. I had not read any of the history or belt color meanings before doing this writing and yet I have experienced a transformation that has ultimately led to balance and happiness. This was not because our instructors talked about it or taught it with those exact words. They taught the "Do" with their patience, skill and experience and by letting us find our own way through. When I take a step back and try to fit the whole experience into my field of vision I begin to wonder why they don't write some kind of self help taekwondo book (maybe that is what I just did), or advertise it for what it really is - a way to experience life and find its true meaning and purpose. More people might sign up for lessons.

White: The color white in taekwondo means innocence and no knowledge of taekwondo.

Yellow: The color yellow stands for the earth in which the seed of taekwondo has been planted and takes root. It is about laying the foundation of taekwondo.

Green: Green symbolizes the seed sprouting and reaching toward the sun. Your knowledge of taekwondo is building.

Blue: The color blue symbolizes the sky toward which the plant is growing and reaching. Your knowledge is growing and your skills are being fine tuned.

Red: Red means danger - the student is warned to practice control of his or her movements.

Black: The color black in taekwondo describes a maturity and proficiency in taekwondo, an imperviousness to darkness and fear, and a new beginning.

Chapter Two

A Beginning

Every story has to start somewhere, how about yours?

My beginning is somewhere in the middle. An almost forty something wife and mother trying to figure out how to be happy and healthy. I went to school and became a professional with a good paying job, check, I met a good looking, hard working, honest guy and got married, check, I ran three marathons, check, we had two children, one boy and one girl, check, I opened my own private physical therapy practice, check. Happy yet? No, for some reason, no. "Why the hell not?" one voice says. "You ought to be grateful for all the wonderful things you have, for all of your accomplishments!" I know, I know, I thought to myself, I am. So why do I feel this way? Like something is missing? Like everything until this point has been for someone else besides me?

In my beginning, like many, I busied my life and the lives of my family with things to do to fill our time, to make us happy. I started to think about getting the kids involved in some activities because, well, it would be good for them. I wanted to get us all out of the house and engaged in life because that is what happy families should do.

Todd and I thought that martial arts might be good for Jonathan. He was shy and a little bit sensitive. We took him to a dojang one day, walked up to the stairs where the entrance to the school was and were about to go in and check it out when we all heard the yells coming from the room below. I guess the sounds of the students' kiups scared my little dude because he turned around and refused to take another step. Strike one.

Later we saw the listing for taekwondo and karate in our YMCA catalog. The kids attended the childcare program in the building where these classes were held so we were all used to seeing the kids, parents and teachers in their uniforms in the hallways. We would peek into the gym now and again to check it out. Karate was on Friday nights and that wasn't going to fit into our schedule, so it was taekwondo. My son agreed to try it only if I did it with him. Fair enough. And Todd could take Danielle to the pee wee gymnastics class on the same day, even better! We planned to do a trial class that next week.

Journal entry January 31, 2006

I have signed us up for some YMCA programs. Dani and Dad will do Daddy 'n' Me Gymnastics and Jon and I are in taekwondo! I am nervous but so excited!

Journal entry March 12, 2006

I wanted to write again tonight about taekwondo. Jonathan and I started our class at the YMCA last weekend. I think we both have a new sport! I am weirdly drawn to this class. Masters Holloway, Hathway, and Mc Dermott were there to teach us the forms, and the bow. During the first class master Mc Dermott, the female teacher, warmed us up. Forty jumping jacks, fifty double leg lifts, fifty push ups, splits ... My abs were sore for three or four days. I hurt myself but I didn't realize it until later. The Wednesday after I made a point to do an intense weight workout including working on the double leg lifts and push ups. I really feel ready to get into awesome shape. My lower abs hurt a little on Wednesday but not a ton. So we went back for our second session, decked out in our doboks (uniform), did our warm up, and started to do some of the leg lifts again, but this time there was sharp pain in my right lower abs and I couldn't work through it. So now I hope it heals so I can continue to work hard and learn some new things. Both Jonathan and I jammed our toes trying to kick the bag. Only I had already jammed mine the week before, so now I have a really jammed toe! It hurt so bad I had trouble running this morning, but felt better toward the end of the run.

I have had so much fun in just two sessions watching Jon learning something new, and he is really good at it. He is so serious about what he is doing but he is also having fun which is exactly how I am feeling. We already have a very close bond but doing this with him is very cool. We have something in common, an interest in common. I really hope that we will be able to continue this and improve and get our black belts!

By the way, you don't get a black belt, you earn it.

More from March 12, 2006

Taekwondo is very athletic. It makes my hands sweat. What is up with that? Jonathan even said something about that too. It is inspiring me to be motivated to improve my flexibility and strength. Really my secret passion is to be Uma. Except I don't need to be blonde.

The whole fighting thing scares me. I am not sure what it is I think I am getting into. I suppose one could practice without having to spar. My little guy in his uniform is a sight. He is the smallest guy in the class with probably the most spirit. I feel very proud to be there with him.

We learned the opening tee up, the bow, jun-bee – stance, kicks: front stretch, front snap, abduction, adduction, side kick, 45, back kick, single, double and triple punch. Knowledge of the feet and hands. I think that we could be good at this. I think this could be something that I can strive for that I can do without having to worry about my insides (except for my abs now). Funny though how this has brought back the old pregnancy injury to let me be aware that it isn't fully healed. What I think is that I needed to step up my conditioning ... and this is the way. This will be a way to heal.

Journal entry May 1, 2006

Taekwondo is going very well. I still love it. I am working out one time a week at the Y doing weights, push ups and abs. I am getting stronger. I can do 60 leg lifts now and 40 partial push ups. My arms and legs are looking good.

We finished the ninth week of taekwondo ... now we will switch to Thursday nights for the summer. I still want to do a second class a week ... but it is not in the cards right now. I have been reading a taekwondo book and they talk about being able to get to black belt in two years. I figured that just has to be the ultimate timing, getting a black belt for my fortieth birthday.

Turns out that the "they" I was referring to had one idea of how long it should take. I hadn't thought of asking the most important source, my own instructor.

Journal entry May 6, 2006

Jonathan and I started our second session of taekwondo Thursday night. We switched from Saturday so we could plan things on the weekends, mainly camping. The Thursday class is big with twenty–one people there this week. The class started differently with a lot of talk ... not as formal as usual. Master Holloway and Ms. Mc Dermott were there. Toward the end we did the bags. The 45's / personal best. I ruined my feet to make a long story short. Bruised! And pulled something in my lower leg. I would have done more than forty. I will have another chance I am sure.

Ms. Mc Dermott told me we would test soon. Jon is so excited to get a stripe! Me too!

When I found these entries in my journal I chuckled to myself. Why would someone love an activity that in the first few classes caused an abdominal tear, jammed toe, bruised feet and a pulled leg? Ha! If I only knew then what I know now, torn calf, bleeding lip, whip lashed neck, more than a dozen bruised knees and elbows and an almost broken rib later. Mom, please chill as you read this, I am careful. Not only did we go back, but we were hooked! Hooked on what you might wonder? Pain? Tempted to say "no not pain" but I am changing my mind. Pain sometimes lets you know you are alive in a "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" kind of way. I needed to feel alive. I was trying to fill a hole, that I didn't even know was gaping inside of me.

I remember in our first class, Jonathan and I were lined up off to the side in the gym with a few other plain clothed students. Ms. Mc Dermott was breaking us in. We were practicing the side kick. I loved taekwondo that very first day. Loved it. Every part of me as I sweat through my clothes was excited about it. Ms. Mc Dermott stepped down the line of us one by one, holding out the paddle and checking out our kicks, fine tuning our techniques. She asked me, "You have done this before right?" "No," I answered, secretly thrilled that she would make a comment like that and thinking, maybe in another life? The exercises, kicks and movements all felt strangely comfortable and caused an instant attraction (addiction). It wouldn't be until a couple belts later that we would realize just what were getting ourselves into. Part of what I was drawn to without completely knowing it that first time or two was how taekwondo demanded my attention to the present moment. This is what Eckhart was talking about in his book "A New Earth!" I thought. I was having an experience of what it was like to be immersed in the moment, in joy.

Noticing that in my first writing about taekwondo, I hoped that our journey would get us a black belt. I didn't know what that meant back then, just felt the energy of it in that very first class, thanks to Ms. M and Master Holloway. Honestly now I feel that you don't really truly know what you are getting into until well into your red belt. By then I felt there was no turning back. I am so grateful that we decided to go for it and that I decided to journal about it for the last six years.

I am honored to share my journey with all of you. I encourage you to find your passions, whatever form they take. For those of you who are curious about taekwondo, come take a class, don't be afraid, you will love it or hate it and it is all good.

This journey for me has been about living and healing, not just surviving. Taekwondo has been part of the path along with other teachers and healers that guided me. I have learned that the ideas of transformation, healing, and living with joy are real, achievable and worthy pursuits. I have been able to redefine what it means to be healthy. I try to remind myself daily what it means to be truly healthy, that it is not just the absence of disease. The discipline of taekwondo requires this daily due diligence. I check in with myself often, I practice awareness, I try to honor my body, mind and emotions by noticing them, paying attention. I pursue my passions in my work and in my play. I have begun to make work my play. I practice these things in class and out. I practice not being attached to the outcome by making my choice or taking an action and then letting go and trusting, come what may. I remember who I am ... and then I go back to doing the laundry.

I even managed to overcome my laundry resentment through this process that made me increasingly grateful for everything in my life. I fold now being happy to own so many clothes in the first place. That might sound corny, but it changed my entire way of being around stuff that I did not like to do. Being grateful was only part of my beginning and it was an important part. More on living in grateful later.

Use these pages to record your thoughts about the question at the beginning of this chapter ...

Use these pages to record your thoughts about the question at the beginning of this chapter ...

Chapter Three


If you stripped away all your labels (mother, daughter, wife, friend, professional, athlete, etc...), all the roles that you identify with as who you are, what would you be left with? Who would you be?

In my twenties and thirties I existed in my career and in my running. I was attached to the idea of who I was through what I did and what I achieved in an unhealthy way. It would take a trauma and resulting huge loss of identity to force me to begin to learn who I really was and feel alive again.

Here is a little bit of my past. I write this as a memorial to the person who lived and survived in her running B.T. (before taekwondo).

Journal entry May 2, 2000

One day after rambling on and on to my husband about what marathon I wanted to run next and what sort of training I wanted to do this year and how I was hoping he would help me with the baby so I could meet with my running group on Saturdays, he asked me, "Why do you like running so much?"

The question surprised and delighted me. My husband, so obviously not a runner, wanted me to tell him what I liked about running, the one thing that I felt partially defined me as a person. Now was my chance to get him hooked too, because obviously my passion would be contagious. Instead of trying to sell running to him like a used car I gave him an answer that came from my heart, that part of me who was a runner. He got to know his wife a little bit better.

"It's the way I feel after a run. It's the feeling of being in the best shape you've ever been in. It's the time I get to myself to think and meditate. It's the time I get to know my runner friends and laugh and joke. It's freedom. It's the smell of the trees and the touch of the wind. It's the squish of new running shoes. It's being in nature and feeling like a part of it. It's being able to eat chocolate without guilt."


Excerpted from LIVING, HEALING AND TAEKWONDO by LAURA PROBERT Copyright © 2012 by Laura Probert, MPT. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Taekwondo Belt Color Meanings....................1
A Beginning....................3
Heaven and Earth....................21
Beyond Magic....................29
Fear, Freedom and Tattoos....................50
Staying Here in Now....................64
Family Effort and More Life....................76
Go Break a Board....................85
Life is a Sparring Match....................92
Learning, Testing and Teaching....................101
Black Belt....................174
Chapter One....................184
Sources, Resources and Recommended Reading....................195
Author Biography....................197

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Living, Healing and Taekwondo 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Camp Half-Blood
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Srry. Next result. I think.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
......its already hephestus cabin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spread out candy on each bunk.