Black Belt

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Rg,MM and Me with Shin Nosuke Suzuki

I remember being the butt of jokes because of my height. I am barely five feet. Since I can’t do much about my God given measurement, I might as well become strong and improve my asset-my strength. Height is might but being small also has benefits. When my brother forgot his ID and wasn’t allowed to enter the school, I simply crawled under the gate and gave mine. He was allowed to enter; while I simply crawled back inside-unnoticed.

When High School was ending, I figured how to improve my lot.  Everyone else towered above me. Feeling a sense of insecurity, I joined TaeKwonDo. Back to the time when Bruce Lee was popular even twenty years after his untimely death, I was finally “in”.

I chose Taekwondo because it is very fancy and resembled Bruce’s Kung fu.  Further, you rarely find an authentic Chinese Martial Arts School unless you live in Chinatown.

During my white belt days, I stood out not because of my form but because I kicked hard. I was very fortunate to train under the Olympian Bronze Medalist, Stephen Fernandez.

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Back to the Basic Side Kick

When I finally gained my black belt, I felt invincible, and yes, TALLER.  You see, I am so fortunate to be born in a family where martial arts was much revered and required. Considering that I am now a black belter, I occupied the front row, closer to the Master.

When I entered law school, butt and head kicking days had to be archived, in the meantime.  The days that followed were thought provoking and more sedentary. I gained legal knowledge and POUNDS.  I remember the laws, but completely forgot my TKD forms. I even lost half of my sense of humor.

Twenty three years after I became a black belter, I came back (Well, I had to find a bigger dobok[1]  and run around the oval for two weeks straight to  shed unwanted fats earned during law school).   At the TKD Central Gym, the children were taller and faster. How does a forty year old lawyer spar with teenagers who have longer legs and at the prime of their youth?  Simple. Being small, I get closer and kick higher so their legs would not hit my little frame. After a week’s training, the coach lauded my old school moves.[2] You see, being a black belt does not mean it’s the ultimate level, there are several degrees/dans to reach. In order to be promoted to a higher degree, you have to break more boards and spar with several black belters as well. This is a very formidable task because age and height are never considered during promotion.

This is not just about me. It’s all about my sons too. You see, they recently became black belts too. Two years of hard training finally paid off.  The happy part is we three get to occupy the front row.

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Coach Ric giving instructions.

When asked if something inside them changed, my eldest replied, Mom, I think I will become more popular. Let’s see.

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RG, Shinosuke Suzuki and Miguel with Coach Ric Canlas taken on June 28,2016.
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Miguel, Shinosuke and Ruben wid Coach Ric, taken in June 2014.

[1] Dobok means Tae Kwon Do uniform.

[2] Old school meaning fancier more Bruce Lee like kicks which include turning head kicks.

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