Essay by Ellen Hyewon Seong

Ellen Seong, Student

Ellen Hyewon Seong, Kumdo 3rd Dan, Josun Sepup 1st Dan, Student

The girl’s loud yelling pierces my ears. I can never forget her fierce eyes glaring straight at me as if she can hear my thoughts and sense my fear. Many people are cheering, but I am too nervous to notice their excitement.  I only feel their eyes trapping me, locking me on the spot. Although she is one head shorter than me, I feel myself shrinking in front of her. Paralyzed, I lose to her in less than thirty seconds. I can still remember how I cried uncontrollably in the grim corner seven years ago during my first tournament.

Eight years ago, I was forced to practice Kumdo, sword-fighting martial art. As a timid nine-year-old girl, I had absolutely no interest in practicing a “brutal” martial art. However, I had no choice but to comply with the will of my dad, who has pursued the study of Kumdo for thirty-five years.

Unfortunately for my dad, I was not talented at Kumdo. I cried on numerous occasions because I felt like the opponents were inhumanely fast. The first time I sparred with my dad, I felt like a fragile egg, fighting a pointless battle against a monumental rock. I could not dare myself to even attempt to attack him. Even after I earned my first blackbelt degree, there were times when I felt like quitting because of the pressure I received from other masters. I felt like the masters had higher expectations of me because I was the daughter of the man with the highest blackbelt degree in the US Kumdo Association.

I  admit that I have spent some time wondering why I did not inherit my dad’s gifted talent at Kumdo. I now realize, however, that these thoughts are useless. Dedication and consistency will eventually take me to where I want to be. I do not have the talent, but my persistency has led me into getting third degree blackbelt. Beginners look upon me as a role model.  I am glad that I never quit.  Had I quit, I would never have felt the feeling of true accomplishment. Through Kumdo, I learned that challenges do not last forever. Time will pass eventually. The key is who will continue to challenge themselves without giving up.

October 31, 2010, VA. My loud, shrieking yelling fills the big gym. I watch my opponent attentively; I can see that the opponent’s eyes are filled with fear and her body stiffens with extreme nervousness.  I enjoy the admiring looks from the spectators. I am no longer the girl who felt hopeless during her first match. Instead, I am the predator with sharp eyes, ready to  charge at the prey.

Kumdo has rewarded me with the confidence that I have what it takes to overcome whatever challenge I encounter in the future. I am about to step into a bigger world. I know that I will have to start as an egg again, but I am not afraid. I am no longer the fragile egg that is frightened to throw itself against the rock. I now have the courage to face a new challenge that is waiting for me because I know that the challenge will eventually turn out to be a reward.

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