My father passed away when I was seven years old.
Immediately, kids at school started asking me about it, and seemingly never let up. At home, roles switched as I had to start taking care of my mother, who just lost her best friend. And now, I had to step up and get a paper route just to get some extra money coming in.
My mother remarried when I was in 6th grade, and to a really great guy. It was the first time since the death of my father that it seemed like life was finally getting back to normal..
But, that normalcy was short-lived. Within two years, my stepfather also passed away, and my Mother and I had to go through it all over again. By this point, I was only in 8th grade.
Needless to say, these experiences changed my life. I came to understand things a little bit differently.
One might say I “found myself.”
But, I don’t really agree with that. I was always there, life just challenged me to get to know myself a little better.
Thank God I had sports at that time. Entering high school, I was very athletic. Baseball, basketball, that sort of thing.
But, I was failing music appreciation. At the time, I couldn’t have cared less about music, but I needed to keep my grades up if I wanted to keep playing sports. Luckily, though, my music appreciation teacher was also our band leader.
“If you join the band,” he told me, “you’ll automatically get an ‘A’ in music appreciation.” Problem solved!
Choosing an instrument was simple. The trumpet was the smallest and lightest instrument available, making it easy to carry to and from school.
So just like that, I was playing trumpet in the school band. Not because I loved it, but purely because it allowed me to play sports and it kept me out of trouble at home.
One day, I was walking through history class, and a guy (who actually looked like he could have been my identical twin) stood up and punched me square in the face. After the knock-down fight that ensued, we were sitting in detention, and I looked over at him and asked, “what the hell was that all about?”
“I heard you joined the band just so you could pass music,” he said.
“Well, yeah,” I replied.
It turns out that he was also a trumpet player in the band. The only difference was that he actually wanted to be.
“I work really hard at becoming something amazing,” he said. “And, you’re just making it look cheap. If you’re going to play trumpet in this band, you’re gonna come to a concert with me this Friday, and we’ll see what you think.”
So, now I had a date that Friday with a guy who looks just like me, to go see some trumpet player who, at the time, I had zero interest in. I went with him anyway.
The band was called Chase, named after one of their four (yes, four) trumpet players, Bill Chase. I was blown away by what he could do. I thought he must have had a special trumpet or something, because there’s no way that what I heard could come out of a normal trumpet. Mine sounded more like sheet metal ripping!
Long story short, I fell in love with the band Chase, I fell in love with playing the trumpet, and began practicing my butt off. Within three years, I had a scholarship to college, playing trumpet.
Again I wouldn’t say that I “found myself” as a trumpet player. The circumstances around me conspired to make me become more aware of who I was and what I was looking for.
You might be surprised to find out my martial arts career began much the same way. At first, I honestly just thought it looked cool!
At the time, if anyone would have told me that I would one day quit playing trumpet for anything, let alone Tae Kwon-Do, I would have told them they were nuts. I played trumpet for over 40 years!
But, martial arts consumed me. Every day, it helped me become more aware of who and what I was, and what I was capable of. And, more importantly, it showed me what I was weak at. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to look at.
Every day that I trained, I became more assured of who I was, what I was, what I wasn’t, and how I could improve my life.
That’s what happens when you walk into our dojang. People come in and they’re not sure what to expect. Sometimes they don’t know why they’re here.
Sometimes they’re looking for self-discipline. Sometimes they just got there for the same reason I did: because it looked cool!
Regardless, they’re looking for something. They’re trying to “find themselves.”
But, you know what? You won’t find yourself at our dojang. We just help to open the door to a part of yourself that you didn’t know existed.
It’s up to you to walk through and explore.
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, register online 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!