Even many, many years after earning that title, it’s a word that I am still not used to saying or hearing.
The journey to become a master makes you humble. It certainly did in my case. It’s a long, difficult journey that, in many ways, never really ends.
People will often ask me what was the hardest part of earning the title of master, and my response is always the same: I’ll let you know once it happens.
Even after I tested for the level of “master,” I didn’t feel like one. It is much the same way as when you go from a color belt to a black belt. You don’t feel like a black belt. In fact, you tend to feel more like a white belt. Because at that level, it’s an entirely different world. It’s a great world, to be sure, but it’s a very different one.
There is an old saying: “the master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
The word “master” doesn’t mean that I am perfect or that everything I do is done perfectly. It means that I have mastered myself and my training. Sure, my side kick might look perfect today, but tomorrow it may not. But, I have mastered my attitude and my outlook.
The things that make the journey difficult are as unique as the students themselves. Fighting was never an issue, I was always a pretty good fighter. It is patterns that have always been a challenge for me.
Way back in the 90’s, I was learning a pattern called Choi-Yong. For me, it was the most difficult pattern that I ever learned.
It was one of those things where I would work on a particularly hard part of the pattern and nail it, but then I would blow it on one of the easier parts. Or, I would get the whole thing looking really good, then get to the hard part and that would go wrong.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that it took me fifteen years of doing this pattern over and over again until I finally felt like I had learned it well enough to do it in a tournament, in front of other people, with confidence.
I’m a perfectionist. When I am training a pattern, I can easily get bogged down in constantly trying to get it better and better. Sometimes I have to get to a point where I just let it go, because I will torture myself trying to learn it.
Oddly enough, I thank my years of playing trumpet for that. I used to sit in a 5’x5’ rehearsal room and blow my brains out for eight hours straight. That made it easier for me to do martial arts than some people, because I know all about drilling things over and over until I get them right. It doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I quite enjoy it.
What we do is perishable. If we stop training, we lose it. I’m going to be 67 in June. It’s all about trying to hang onto what I have and not lose any of what I have worked so hard for.
My favorite part of being a master is that I can teach what I have learned. I get to be a steward for Tae Kwon-Do and spread it to other people.
I always tell people, if you are truly a master, you are never satisfied, but you are always happy.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, visit the Contact Us page or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!