Today was our last day at my taekwondo school. We're both going to different schools. Me, for a long, long time. My instructor, for six months to a year, and then he's not going to be in the franchise anymore. He wants to study plants. He goes where his interests lead him and he does whatever will make him happy, so I'm not sad about that. Follow your bliss - he told me that once. We don't have the same path - myself, I'm going for the Olympics and pursuing a career in teaching taekwondo, as well as competing for both sparring (eventually making the Olympic team) and forms. And that's okay - as similar as we are, as close as we are, we're not the same person. We often have the same thought/idea at exactly the same time and we understand each other really well, but we're still different people. We don't have the same dreams - at one point we did, which was becoming instructors; that's a dream of mine, and that was his dream ten years ago - but one thing we share is our determination to reach our goals. No matter what. We will fight for our dreams. No matter what.
So I'm not one to stand in his way. Today was the day I said goodbye for what might be forever. I mean . . . he said I could email him. Believe me. I will. I said "every now and then" but that might end up being ALL THE TIME. :D Because I'm that friend. :D Okay, not so often that it becomes annoying. But like seriously, I'm keeping in touch with him. He's the best friend ever. :,)
We sparred for the last time for about twenty minutes after class. One match. Twenty minutes. No breaks. No sparring gear, either. It wasn't high-level contact, but it was medium contact - normally without sparring gear, you wouldn't make contact at all. No-contact sparring. But with instructors who are friends sparring . . . SHOW NO MERCY. XD I felt like I was dying, but I'd never felt more alive than I did then. I found the energy to say sarcastic things while we were sparring, and I was smiling the entire time. He was too. We both kept laughing because it was so much fun (I must sound crazy to all you non-taekwondo people out there. Yes, SPARRING IS FUN. :D Sparring your best friend is even more fun!). We hadn't sparred each other in a long time, and we've both improved since then. We were just so happy. I mean, it was our last sparring match, but . . . it was the best sparring match ever. :,)
We took pictures too. Lots of pictures. They're awesome. XD We did a "serious" one, a taekwondo one, and a funny one. They were all funny, though, except for the taekwondo one. That was actually serious. Because taekwondo is serious. Somehow we were able to not smile for that picture. I don't know how, but we managed to not make any faces. XD
I'm listening to "Experienced Many Battles" from Naruto Shippuden right now. We both love that anime. And the soundtrack is appropriate for this, I think, because we really did experience many battles. Battles against ourselves. He helped me overcome all of my challenges - because of him, I was able to be strong no matter what. Even when I thought I couldn't. And because of him, I won every single one of those battles. He was always there for me no matter what, and he was always able to help me. Today during the summer camp class I was crying in the other dojang because I couldn't be the great instructor I wanted to be when I was leading the beginners in their form. It really was awful, me leading it - I didn't have enough confidence and I had no idea what to do., even though he's just explained it twice. My instructor walked in and said, "Hey, what's going on?" I said something like, "I'm terrible at this." He told me to come over to him, and I did, and he said, "You just disappeared. I thought you went to get water or something, but then you didn't come back. Don't leave like that without telling me." I replied through tears, "I know, I'm really sorry . . ." and told him how I felt like a failure. He said that I should have asked him to explain what to do again, because he wouldn't mind that at all, or ask for a drill I would be more comfortable leading. Then he said to go splash water on my face and come back to class. That's what I did, after apologizing several more times. When the beginner class was over and the high belt class was going to start soon, I said sorry to my instructor again. He said it was okay and whacked me on the shoulder, like he always does. I described in more detail my problem, which was that I never knew anyone's requirements until five seconds before I had to teach them, and he printed out the curriculum sheet for me. :) I don't know when I'll be teaching again, since I'm switching schools as mentioned before, but this time I'll know what to do. (Thank you, by the way. :) )
After class, I . . . I said goodbye. Before that, we talked about our new schools a bit, and our futures. Where we were going in life from this day on. Then my mom said something like, "It was nice knowing you" and shook hands with him. I held out my hand for a handshake too, and my instructor looked at me like, REALLY? A HANDSHAKE?!, and said, "Come here." As we hugged he said, "You get the [name of taekwondo school] hug. :)" So then we were leaving, and we were talking about stuff, standing on the sidewalk just outside the door. My mom said goodbye and started walking towards the car, but I knew I needed to say something better. Something I've always wanted to say but never said for some odd reason. It was very difficult to say it, because I knew I was going to cry. But hey, he's already seen me cry twice this summer, so what's one more time, right? Pacing the sidewalk in front of the school, I said, "I'm trying not to cry right now. Oh God . . ." And then I started crying and walked over to him again and said, "Thanks for everything." We hugged again and I said, "You're the best martial arts teacher I could ask for." He replied, "Thank you. It really means a lot to hear that. :)"
And then I said, "Goodbye!" and so did he, and I walked across the parking lot feeling sad and happy at the same time. Still crying but still living. Because he taught me to choose to live a happy life, and that's what I've chosen. A heart of joy will put many stars into a dark sky.
I'm never going to forget him or the school or anyone there. I love you all and I'm going to miss you so much. I'm going to keep all the memories from my taekwondo school close to my heart forever, and I'm going to keep training forever. I'm going to win gold in the Olympics, I'm going to be the best instructor I can be, and I'm going to win the World Poomsae Championship. For my instructor. He gave me the strength and courage to reach my dreams, and I can never thank him enough for that.
I'm crying because . . . I don't know why. This is not the end, but a new beginning. A new sunrise.
I hope you all find as much happiness as I have, and remember: every day, choose to be happy. Choose to truly live, to smile, to cherish the gift that is life. You only live once. Make life amazing. :)
- Instructor Samurai
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