As a kid growing up in the 1980s and 90s, it seemed that all of the movies I most enjoyed watching centered around the martial arts. Everything from The Karate Kid to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I enjoyed. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to study the martial arts. I never had the opportunity to when I was a child, but in a way, I’m glad I never did. It gave me the opportunity to participate in martial arts lessons at the Colorado Taekwondo Institute.
The CTI martial arts school is more than just your run of the mill dojang. I’ve only been a student for a year and a half, but the improvements to my overall quality of life thanks to the CTI are incredible. We’ll get the physical improvements out of the way first. Since becoming a student, I’ve lost 15 pounds and have dropped two pant sizes, and the weight is still coming off. My physical strength and endurance have increased significantly. My flexibility has improved dramatically. With two small kids at home, this has been invaluable. I can pick them up and carry them without an aching back and tired arms. I can play tag with my daughter and nephew while running at full speed, and not feel the need to take a break after only a few minutes. I can sit on the floor and build train sets with my son without my entire body protesting. I used to have to really motivate myself to exercise. Now, I just don’t feel right without regular exercise. The training I’ve received at the CTI has given me back my youth.
As wonderful as this all is, my training has done so much more than give me back my physical health. It’s improved my mental health as well. It’s hard to describe the level of stress relief that comes with being a student at the CTI. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked in the door to go to class, stressed to the max. My workday was terrible, traffic was awful, world events were downright depressing. I walked through the door carrying all of that stress and anger in my muscles, my heart, and my mind. But all of that leaves the moment you bow in to class. The positive environment is apparent immediately. You can feel the passion of both the instructor and the students. It’s difficult to be around that type of energy and not get a boost in your overall outlook on life. Not to mention the high level of concentration needed to perform the exercises and forms in class. There’s so much to focus on in training, that there isn’t room to think about anything else. Within minutes, the worries and stress of the day are forgotten. This translates to me being a happier, more patient, and more relaxed person, which in turn improves my life overall. On the days that I don’t have class, I often will practice martial arts lessons in my basement after work just to get a moment of peace and calm in my day.
Lastly, being a student of the CTI has given me something that may be even more valuable. It’s given me a feeling of belonging. It’s given me a hobby that is really more of a passion and a way of life. My instructor and my fellow classmates are really more than that- they are family. My classmates are my brothers and sisters. My instructor is a true role model. As an 8th degree black belt, Grandmaster James Sautel is an inspiration. Coming in as a new white belt, I respected his belt and his rank. Now, after studying under him for a year a half, and seeing how he truly embodies the five tenets of Taekwondo (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit), I can’t help but have enormous respect for him as a person. After attending numerous events with the CTI and learning under a variety of black belts and master instructors at these events, I see that it isn’t just him. Everyone that I’ve ever had the privilege to work with and learn from at the CTI is just like this. The entire organization is brimming with people that would do anything for each other, and that strive to make the world a better place. It’s hard to put into words how amazing it is to be a part of something like that.
It’s pretty amazing to me to look back on this past year and a half, and see how much my quality of life has improved thanks to being a student of the Colorado Taekwondo Institute. I have 15 months of training under my (green) belt, but a lifetime of martial arts lessons ahead of me. I went from pretending to be a ninja in my backyard as a child to becoming a martial artist as an adult. And I’m proud to say that I will be for the rest of my life.