"Taekwondo Past and Future" by Matthew Pitera

Ever since my first Taekwondo class, I have been completely and utterly in love with the sport. I remember my first class vividly, as if it were just yesterday that I stepped onto the mat for the first time. I remember walking in, and sitting down in the center of the mat, waiting for class to start; butterflies were fluttering in my stomach. As the class went on, the butterflies got worse, up until the point where I simply broke down and started crying. Master Kwon quickly rushed to the scene, comforting me and holding me by his side from then on. After class, I told my mom I didn't want to come back, but luckily for me, she convinced me to try it just one more time. On that night, I wasn't quite sure why I had butterflies. Maybe, I was just scared to be in a new place with new people. A much more appealing explanation for me is that something inside of me knew the potential, and the lifetime of opportunities that lay ahead of me in Taekwondo. Since that night, every time I step on the mat I get a few of those butterflies again, but not for the same reason. Now the butterflies flutter at the thought that every day presents a new opportunity to learn and to continue participating in the sport that has truly become my passion in life.

While, I have always been passionate about the sport, I realized my true attraction to the sport when I began sparring. Sparring has always seemed to come naturally to me. The way that fighters move on the mat, attacking and countering, has always seemed to flow for me. A sparring match has always seemed to have balance between attacking and defending. While observing this has taught me to be a better fighter, it has also taught me to be a better person. Taekwondo has taught me to realize that without the right balance of attacking and defending, your life will be out of balance. This mentality has helped me countless times since I first started Taekwondo, and has helped me maintain balance in all aspects of my life.

Throughout my journey in Taekwondo, I have always sought to have some sort of proof of my success, whether it is a pat on the back or a gold medal. This has led me to pursue sparring competitively, and truly try to become the best fighter that I can be. After competing for several years at more competitive level tournaments, I have realized my true passion within the sport and what I hope to accomplish in the future. Winning the ATU National tournament last year was a true eye opener for me in several ways. It caused me to take a step back and look at what I have accomplished in Taekwondo, but also to look at what I hope to accomplish. I realized that while I had overcome a huge obstacle, and accomplished one of my biggest goal, there is always some way to improve. In the future, I hope to attend not only to attend medium sized local tournaments, but larger and more competitive tournaments. One goal I have had since starting sparring is to go to the Olympic Games. While this is still a distant goal, every day I work hard to pull myself a little bit closer. In the upcoming years I hope to attend tournaments with high level competitors where I will truly be challenged, and can be recognized as a fighter. Once my time learning and sparring ends, I hope that I will be able to pass my knowledge down and open up my own studio. I have always been attracted by the thought of opening my own Taekwondo studio. I feel as though teaching people to be the best they can be, not only in Taekwondo, but also in life, is an honorable way to spend my time.

As I have progressed in Taekwondo, I have quickly learned that the sport not only teaches kicks and punches; but that it also teaches a way of living. Taekwondo has helped me learn self-control, respect and perseverance in a way that no person could teach me. I truly believe that with Taekwondo in my life, I have become a better man.