17th November 2016 marks another milestone in my personal TaeKwon-Do life.
Since I was a teenanger, especially when I was very active in participating in national championships and spending my weekends as an instructor - at the age of 13 - to those younger and older than me, I have dreamt of having the honourable 'wings' (in Malay we call it 'sayap'), or black stripe on my uniform. And today is the day I get to wear that uniform.
Releasing the truth only today, to be honest, I was pretty much demotivated when I had to withdraw myself from being a part of the Malaysian contingent to the 6th World Junior Championship, for the sake of my IGCSE O-Levels examination and my entire future. At 2nd Dan in 2004, it was a point where I thought I was losing everything I have strived for in TaeKwon-Do. It was a point where I thought I could and will never achieve more. So I attempted to join Karate, but only for a year. And later I attempted to join WTF TaeKwon-Do but also only for a year.
Throughout those years, I was still in close contact with my TaeKwon-Do peers. However, I did not train regularly or conduct any classes due to my undergraduate commitments (and secretly doing other martial arts) but they kept calling me to teach TaeKwon-Do as we have very limited female instructors as compared to the rising demands.
Family & friends kept on encouraging me - especially because 5 of my 6 siblings are all black belt holders, and I felt obliged to contribute to the society by conducting trainings for females. So I continued my journey in TaeKwon-Do, and went for my 3rd Dan in 2007. But soon after, I stopped again.
After receiving my bachelor degree, I resumed my trainings and conducted TaeKwon-Do classes for girls once or twice a week. But I silently had put aside my dreams to achieve much further in TaeKwon-Do. Even few years later when I was offered and encouraged to go for my 4th Dan in 2014, I did not feel the excitement and determination. Life goes on as usual and I took maternity break to deliver my third son, so I withdrew myself from the 4th Dan grading in December 2015 as I was not physically ready. It was again quite devastating to stay at the 'same spot' when seeing many of my peers earn their 4th Dan. I wonder, will I ever make it there? Will it ever be worth it to spend so much time, effort and money to achieve that?
Joining the Tul Tour in South Korea, hosted by the ITF headquarters, had opened my eyes, broadened my views and gave a new breath to my TaeKwon-Do spirit. It reminds me of the famous quote "Whole life devoted to TaeKwon-Do" that have always inspired my younger days. I learned and experienced so much just within a week. And here in South Korea, the homeland of TaeKwon-Do, I officially received my 4th Dan.
When people ask me what is so special about 4th Dan? My answer is simple: If getting a black belt is like graduating from high school, then getting a 4th Dan is like graduating from bachelor degree in TaeKwon-Do.
However, the journey does not and will not stop here. If God wills, I will continue to spread the skills and knowledge of TaeKwon-Do to younger generations, especially to girls, ladies and women, inshaAllah.
This 4th Dan is especially 'dedicated' to my mom Pn Laili Ismail, my dad En Johari Maarof and my husband Abdullah Mujahid for their never-ending support!