July 23, 2010, Red Belt Promotion Test
- Difference between the martial arts you signed up for and the martial arts you have learned.
- What is your goal at OMAC?
Parents – Don’t just sit and watch your children from the sidelines. Put on the Dobok and come join us!
My name is Alkis Poullis, I am 45, and I come from Cyprus, a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea in South-East Europe. Canada became my adopted country 12 years ago.
My diverse and intense experiences starting early on are the type that entice quite a lot of questioning and inner-searching. Experiencing first-hand the horrors of war at the age of 9 and spending two late-teen years in mandatory army service right across enemy lines were proven quite the milestones. Later on, twice I rushed to help domestic accident victims only to helplessly watch them die in my arms. At the age of 33 I followed my Canadian wife to Canada, had a loving child – now 7, continued my business career in my adopted country, run a team of 35 and 10 years ago started my own business.
I am sure that irrespective of stimulus and degree, everyone – just like me – sooner or later begins his or her own quest for answers. It seems inevitable.
For me the breakthrough came two years ago. Nothing else was proven more instrumental in providing answers and drastically changing my life than pursuing a life-long dream of studying and practicing an Asian Martial Art.
For the longest time – admittedly – I was procrastinating, agonizing with all sorts of different excuses each time: “I don’t have the time; I must first loose weight and stop smoking; I must first release some stress from life; I need to find someone to train with, I am not flexible enough, it is way too costly”, and a myriad other similar excuses.
Little did I know that by making that first step of putting on the Dobok and stepping with awe into the Dojang all barriers and walls my mind had fabricated would be shattered:
- A consistent training schedule accompanied by a methodical strengthening and stretching program and a change of dietary habits quickly produced measurable results.
- We all have our favourite partners on the mat, but matching everyone with challenging partners is among the things all our instructors do very well, so fear not! You will never train alone.
- You feel stiff? At the beginning of my TKD career I could hardly touch my knees. Today, notwithstanding a recent hamstring injury, I am on my way to achieving the splits.
- And to shatter yet another myth, let me just state that an excessive and abusive lifestyle is definitely more costly than immersing in a well-rounded dietary and physical exercise program with an Asian martial art centered at the core.
I train daily complimenting my time here at OMAC with my own practice routines and drills. Every time I step on the mat I bow with respect to the ancient art that was passed to us through the eons of time from dedicated masters of the likes of Grandmaster Kim and the generations before him, who preserved and evolved TKD and other martial arts.
I bow in salute to our governing body the WTF which maintains the accredited TKD curriculum, and even to the rivalry body of the ITF, in hope that they will one day unite, perhaps even uniting all Korean people too.
I bow in respect to so many instructors in the large family of TKD, including the masters and instructors of our school, who are so passionately and diligently passing on to us what was passed on to them by their teachers.
I bow to my ancestors the ancient Greeks who figured out more than 2000 years ago that “healthy mind can only exist in a healthy body”.
And I bow to the Creator who equipped us all with such an amazing machine – our body – capable of such incredible feats, made us human, capable of damaging it but gave us intelligence to learn how to care for it in order to stay healthy, and treat it in times of injury.
This is a plead to all of you parents who sit and watch your children train from the sidelines. (Some Saturdays it gets crazy in here, doesn’t it!) The best way to motivate your children is to wear the Dobok yourselves and join them! There are some excellent classes here at OMAC where the whole family can train together. My excuses for delaying my initiation were light-years away from being valid. I am sure yours will also be proven invalid. So, no more delays – you too can do this!
To me, the goal is not about frantically chasing after the next available belt color or achieving black belt status the soonest possible. Sounds like a cliche, but it’s true: This is not about the destination; it is about the journey. So rewarding and self-revealing this journey is, that my personal goal is to keep training for as long as physically possible, and beyond.
For me, 2 years after my journey begun, the most spectacular change is in the way I feel. For the first time in my life I have found balance, clarity and peace. TKD translates freely to “the way of the hand and kicking techniques”. The Way to Salvation, that is. It appears that after so many years of questioning and searching, I have found mine. I wish you could all join us: To feel the same glow we all feel when we train and to share and celebrate not only our children’s but also our own martial arts achievements with the rest of us. You too can do this!
My TKD mentor introduced me to the teachings of the great Asian warrior Musashi who spoke of the “Spirit of the Thing” that true warriors must all search for. With proper training and commitment, Musashi continues, the “Thing” eventually reveals itself, and it is none other than the warrior himself. I wish that those of you who join bring a renowned commitment to evolve and eventually raise above just the recreational aspect of TKD, and with utmost respect to the Discipline and it’s Masters begin your own journey for the quest of the “Spirit of the Thing” and the Way.
But that remains my wish…