Tired and sweaty, I reached for my forearm pads to prepare myself for the sparring session of training camp. As I put on the final part of gear, the soft helmet, I stood up to join the others aligned under the Korean flag. This day however was not a normal day at training camp. This would be the day in which we have our final sparring session before the Jr. Olympics held in Minnesota. Even though it was not the last day of camp, Sabunim, our master instructor, decided that it would be smart not to take the chance of getting hurt right before we go on the trip.
"Tom and Mark you're up. Cuyup... kuanye ... shijuct."
These were the three words that I had heard often during the course of our training at the dojang. They meant attention, pay respects to your sparring partner, and begin. To me they meant only one thing, and that was to prepare for combat.
My best friend and frequent sparring partner, Mark was my rival. He was the perfect equal to me being that he was the same height and had the same amount of skill. He was in every aspect, the yin to my yang. However, he was a little heavier than me by fifteen pounds, but I always felt a little quicker than he was.
After the first two minute round was done, my instructor said to me, "It looks as though he wants to spin when you are about to attack, so check first then double." In translation, this meant that Mark was about to through either one of the two most powerful kicks in Taekwondo and my coach wanted me to draw it out then through two fast kicks. This may sound a lot easier then it does...