I started studying taekwondo in the fall of 2011. At the time, I was convinced that I was absolutely the most clueless and uncoordinated student who had ever donned a white belt and that it would be a bloody miracle if I ever figured out what I was doing in the dojo. In general, 38 is not really the optimal age to be starting with a martial art, but I figured it was as young as I was ever going to be again and starting at 39, 40 or 62 was unlikely to yield a better result.
Fast forward the better part of five years, and things have improved significantly. I still can't do a jump spin kick worth a damn (work in progress), but I have most of the other material I've learned down reasonably well and I've actually been permitted to help teach lower belts, too. In our system, the white belt is the first you receive and the black belt your twelfth. My current belt is brown, level ten, and at class last night I was invited to test for level eleven on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
Now, I'm reasonably athletic but not supremely fit by any means. At 42, I look much more like the middle aged soccer mom I am than any kind of ninja. I wear a steel-hinged knee brace to protect my cartilage-deficient right knee and my right shoulder occasionally acts up on me as well. In short, I'm not really anyone's stereotype of a martial artist. What I do have going for me is persistence, however. For the last four-plus years, I've been doggedly going to class two, three, four times a week, whatever fit the schedule, and doing my best, whatever form it took on that day. And slowly but surely, I've been learning and progressing and improving. Eleven days from today, I will test for my senior brown belt. And God willing, twelve days from today I will start learning the material I need to know to earn my black belt in taekwondo, finally and at last.
It's just like the old story about how you eat an elephant, actually...one bite at a time.