Martial Arts

Tang Soo Do After 40?

By Jon Anest - 4th Gup
Two Dragons Tang Soo Do, Sanford, Florida


With perfect balance and perfect speed I flew through the air rapidly approaching my target. With an outstretched leg and hammer fist, my sights were set on the poor punching bag. Flying high I descended like a bullet hollering an ear shattering ki-hap and came down upon it with a devastating side kick with such accuracy landing in a picture perfect back stance!

No, that really wasn't me! But someday soon!

Tang Soo Do Karate after 40? What am I thinking? I'm definitely not getting any younger. Everywhere I look I see martial art schools opening their doors to young kids, 5 and 6 years old, to start their training. I must be crazy. Surely I'm too old to think about getting into a dojang to train. I would never make it - physically or mentally.            

That was my first mistake - letting my mind tell me I could not do it. Fortunately I didn't listen to my mind.

Walking into the Two Dragons Tang Soo Do dojang for the first time in June of 2006 was a very inspiring moment. I felt a sense of tradition, honor and respect almost immediately. Having six months previous training in Hapkido, I started to remember the protocol and etiquette expected in a dojang. Donned in my dobok and crisp white belt, I stood in front of Sa Bom Nim as he led the class. First warm-ups, then into basics: kicks and punches. He gave us a history about how our martial art began and what we would be learning. I remember after that first week my legs were a little sore! "What was I doing?"  My 41-year old body was screaming at me "Quit! We can't take it!" No, back again next week.

Three months later...bam...first test! Wow, the adrenaline was really pumping through me. My other classmates and I did our forms, self-defense, one-step sparring and other testing exercises. Then our first break...step behind side kick. CRACK! One board history. What a feeling ...a sense of accomplishment and ...a new belt! Even at forty-one I felt like a kid again.

One year later...yup, still here! Kids are a little older, work is still demanding, soccer practice every Tuesday and husband/wife time still needed, but Tang Soo Do is still in my heart. My body has become accustomed to training three days a week - a little sore and achy sometimes but that goes with the sport.

Sometimes my kids ask "Daddy, why are you going to karate tonight?" My aching back asks the same thing! So what draws me back? What keeps me wanting more? Tang Soo Do is not just about punches and kicks. Just walking into a dojang you feel humble. This is a place not just to learn about front stances and side kicks, but to feel what this art is all about and to gain a sense of respect for the founder, the master, other classmates - and myself. It's about learning self-defense and improving my inner spirit. It's about spinning kicks and learning multiple attackers - together with humility and grace. It's an "all-in-one" package that is a sure winner.

My daughter is aching to start learning, but I told her I wanted her to wait until she's 7 or 8 before she begins taking a martial art. I come home at night and she attacks me like Cato from the Pink Panther movies! Sometimes I look at her and think about what I would be like now if I had started at her age. Then I look in the mirror and say "you're not getting older pal, just wiser!"

August 13, 2007

Update: Kyo Sa Anest was awarded his 2nd Degree Black Belt in 2012.
He is also a certified Instructor at Two Dragons Tang Soo Do where his two children also train.



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