How is Tae Kwon Do different from team sports?
One of the downsides of team sports is “the blame game”. Bill Buckner, a Hall of Fame ball baseball player, is single-handedly blamed for the Boston Red Sox 1986 loss to the New York Mets. Interestingly enough, one error by one player is considered the reason that this team with 9 players on the field and a total of 25 players on the roster lost four out of seven games played in that series.
In our Tae Kwon Do studio, we take the help and nurture approach. Someone who is struggling is worthy of assistance and support. We were (or perhaps still are) that student struggling with that technique, and someone came and helped us. We are just playing it forward. Our students also know that we do not leave anyone behind. If the class is only as strong (or advanced) as the weakest link, we do not cut off that link; we strengthen it.
This approach has successfully created a very supportive community atmosphere in our studio. We are all striving towards similar goals. We are not looking for a “win” - and a “hero” if we do, or a “loser” if we don’t. We are striving to find the best in ourselves, and part of the best in ourselves is the connections that we find in others. In helping others, we learn more about our own struggles and issues, and perhaps even identify better what we need to practice and overcome. In being helped, we are shown positive role models to emulate while also possibly being offered insights into someone else’s similar struggles.
Team sports are great, and they offer many positive possibilities. But I understand why they are not a draw for many of us, especially the “not-so-natural athlete”. In our Tae Kwon Do studio, even on "a bad day", students always find themselves surrounded by a community who shares in our (mine, too) journey, who celebrate us at our best, and who support and help us to get to our best on those days when we are just not feeling it.
A Tae Kwon Do practitioner may never be admired (or reviled) like Bucky Dent, but s/he will never be so (undeservedly) blindly hated like Bill Buckner either. Supported, guided, valued, appreciated, helped and even loved - that is who we are as a community.