March 7, 2020
A 35 YEAR JOURNEY
I grew up as an only child, I was rather timid, and a friend of our family in Guatemala suggested that I should take on martial arts. I started training when I was about 8 years old. My first TKD dojang opened my eyes to what training in martial arts would help you achieve, I loved training Tae Kwon Do, mostly the spinning kicks, as a kid I thought it was the coolest thing. I would go there four days a week and train for 2 hours each day, basically, while other kids did homework, I kicked X-ray films, we didn't have paddles back then. Unfortunately, our dojang closed down; later the same place turned into a Karate dojo, so I started training Kenpo Karate, did it for several years, but, I quit still far from achieving a black belt. A few years later, another opportunity opened up, a Kung Fu training facility. I started again as a white belt and trained for about 2 years, not even close to getting a black belt. While at the University, a friend of mine opened a TKD dojang, and I trained there for a couple of years, stopping at blue belt when I moved to the USA.Moving to a different country had many challenges to overcome, language for one, but with a busy schedule, I thought my dream of becoming a black belt might be out of reach in this new country, but I didn't want to give up and found a school in Dallas where I trained for about 4 years. Then I moved, and my job schedule changed, yet again stopping me short from getting my black belt. My wife asked me about the collection of belts I had and why there were all kinds of colors (several of each actually), but no black belt. That sparked the possibility that, even at 35, I could still achieve my long-delayed goal. She motivated me to finish what I started. I did my research and visited several schools in the Garland and Rowlett area, one of them was Mudo Martial Arts. I have had many TKD instructors and Karate senseis, and it was easy to choose Mudo as the school where I wanted to continue my journey to become a black belt, that is because when I met Instructor Daniel Lee, I knew he had a passion for teaching martial arts, and that if I trained under his watch, I would be challenged to become a better TKD practitioner, and that's exactly what I was looking for.
I was so focus on my training, that I was not paying as much attention to the other aspects of my life. I thought about it day and night. My life was very busy, I have a wife, a set of young triplets and I also wanted to become more involved in my church. Then, something strange happened, the day I was supposed to test for my Red III belt, I snapped my Achilles tendon during warm up kicks, and I ended up in the ER rather than celebrating a new belt.I was now facing surgery and a long road to recovery with no guarantee that I would be able to even exercise well, much less train TKD. I was in a wheelchair for some time, then crutches, then a knee scooter, then a boot, then a long set of physical therapy. This experience gave me a new appreciation for people with any sort of handicap. It also showed me that I should not take anything for granted, not even walking, which I couldn't do for months. It was a big, humbling lesson. At first, I didn't understand why that would happen to me so close to achieving my goal, but it was exactly that, just something I wanted to do by myself, not something I asked God for his blessing and help. Thank God I made a really good recovery, but then I had to get 3 abdominal hernias repaired as well. I wasn't sure if I should try to finish my journey to black belt, so I prayed, and with the encouragement of my wonderful wife, who has believed in me all the way, and watching my 8 year old son getting his yellow belt, I felt that I was in a good place in my life to continue my journey. Mudo Martial Arts is a fantastic dojang. I have great respect for Instructor Daniel, he is an excellent teacher and motivator, and Mrs. Paula at the office is always so nice and helpful, they are both great people, and my son and I feel like we are at home when we are at Mudo. Today, as I test for black belt, I thank God not only for allowing me to be able to use my ankle and my abdominal muscles to have a normal life, but actually giving me the opportunity to reach my goal, all of this with a very different perspective. I am grateful for my health and for what I am able to do and try not to focus or be ungrateful for the things that I do not have or what I can not do. I also thank my wife and kids for being supportive, motivating and patient during my training. I can truly say this, it is never too late to follow your dreams.