Overcoming Adversity

To grade, or not to grade?

I was nervous, I sat on the mats, wiped the sweat from my brow, closed my eyes and visualised every move of my Poomsae over and over again. I knew every turn, stance, strike, I was more than prepared but that monster called self doubt creeps in and coupled with my long term knee injury, I couldn’t help but wonder was this the right thing to do.

But there I was, sitting in a training hall in Liverpool, stepping up to take my 5th Dan. Only this time, I have the added pressure of a knee injury awaiting an operation and facing a grading panel of examiners made up of my former Cumbria Taekwondo colleagues.

Grading exams are always a nerve wracking experience at the best of times, but nothing worth having ever came easily. Whether you are a white belt or a black belt, a grading is not only a test of your physical capabilities and skills but also of your character. When faced with a challenge, how do you choose to react?

I chose to step up, I chose to perform, I chose to give everything, I chose to stand with pride and confidence. I found myself in a situation I could not control or change, the only thing I could control was my response, and that became my success.

Life will always present us with challenges. We all face obstacles, set backs and situations in our lives that test our will. Yet it is how we tackle adversity that dictates our success; it’s the ‘fight or flight’ response, do we run or do we face it head on; do we see a problem or do we see an opportunity?

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King
From grading success to post knee operation recovery