As many of you know, I'm not only Jane, but also Tae Kwon Do Mom. I'm still doing Tae Kwon Do, and am now a 1st degree black belt.
Recently, things at the dojang have changed. My friends--Brian A., Brian B., Pam, Jim, Kevin, Stacey--who went through the ranks with me and just before me, have all left. So now, I'm often the only adult black belt there. We have lots of teen boys, and a bunch of younger kids, too, maybe 20 people at each class, but it's nothing like when I started when each class was 30-40 people of all ages and ranks.
Not only are my friends gone, but this summer the teachers were unable to be at a lot of classes. So the teaching often fell . . . to me. I think in August, I probably taught 10 out of the 12 or 15 classes I attended.
I like teaching, and I think I do OK at TKD teaching, but I've only been doing martial arts for 3 1/2 years! It's one thing to fill in and do class once in a while, but having to do it on a regular basis--well, you have to think up curriculum and consider pacing and how you're going to teach 20 people when there aren't any adult black belts to help! Of course I enlisted the teen black belts, and Robbie is my official "assistant." But it was quite the challenge.
Plus, I want to be a student! I need to keep learning, getting advice, getting challenged. And I missed that.
I gently pleaded with my TKD friends to come back, but they were busy, on to new things, or just not doing TKD any more. So there I was. I joked that I should be pulling down a salary . . . I was actually beginning to get frustrated, and wondered if I should start looking for a school that actually mentors and appreciates its adult black belts.
Last week, though, both teachers started coming back to class. And on the first day they were back, Master Hughes called me up to the front of the class to award me this patch. He thanked me for my work, and praised my teaching. "I always hear good things about when Jane teaches."
OK, it's only a patch. But the fact that he thought of it, and appreciated my work enough to do something about it meant a lot to me.