When people make the decision to start any sort of martial arts, they expect to lose weight, learn self defense, or learn self discipline. Then there are others, like myself, who start it just because; just because their parents said to try it or to simply give them something to do. During my first few classes, I would have never guessed that I would meet so many wonderful people that would change me nor would I guess that Tae Kwon Do would become a passion that would not only make me stronger, but make me a better person. I had just turned thirteen when I started taking classes and everything was okay. I would get tired after a class, but I disregarded it as normal. I wasn’t very active beforehand and had a poor diet. I wasn’t overweight; I was just out of shape. Then came that one class that kicked my butt. I had to stop and get out of class because I thought I was going to either pass out or puke. After that one class, I didn’t want to go back; I was incredibly embarrassed and didn’t want to feel like that again. For weeks, I argued with my mom, making up excuses so I wouldn’t have to go to practice. Eventually, I went and it happened again. This time, I wouldn’t let it stop me. I did have to get off the mat, but it wasn’t for long. I realized that if I just ran away from my problem, I would forever be like this and I didn’t want that. I wanted to get stronger and pushing myself was how I was going to do it. Not long after that, one of the instructors talked to me about getting a teenage demonstration team together. We would go to different events, put on a little show, get people to sign up, and leave. I had always wanted to be a part of something and I really needed to make friends that were around my age because I was mainly talking to adults at the time. I talked to my parents about it and we agreed that I should do it. Little did I know what I was getting myself into… I went to Tae Kwon Do five days a week, including Saturday mornings. I couldn’t stay away from the ‘dojang’. We would work out, help out with classes, and then run off to wherever we were doing a demonstration. We would especially work out on Friday nights and sometimes Wednesday nights. So I had demo team practices to go to on top of regular class. Crazy, right? But that was my norm. We worked out ten times harder and more frequent than the people who would just show up to regular class. And surprisingly, I survived; but only barely. Regardless, I became so much stronger and my stamina got built up to where I was flabbergasted at what I had accomplished. Now, I wasn’t the only person on the team. There were a handful of other people but they had the biggest hearts you’ve ever seen. None of us were really close at the beginning, especially me. I had never met any of these people and I was the only white belt on top of being the youngest; so I felt incredibly left out. Regardless, it took us no time to become a family. We would hang out on the weekends and go to movies; we were inseparable. This handful of people that I had never talked to had become my world They were my best friends and they still are. I had the advantage of being the youngest: it gave me a chance to mature and learn how to act normal- to a point. It’s been about seven years since that demo team diminished and five years since I quit going altogether. Will I go back? I most likely will, but I have another obstacle to overcome. It is my passion and it always will be. I will forever carry what I learned from those people in my heart and Tae Kwon Do will always be a part of me. It was the single thing that had the biggest impact on my life and it made me the person I am today. Tae Kwon Do taught so me so many wonderful lessons. But above all of them, it taught me to never give up and to push myself to the best of my abilities.