Written in Athens, Greece, on April 02, 2020
On 2 March 2020, I received a notice from Facebook; a friend of mine, Master Mats Lindfors from Finland tagged me on one of his photos. He mentioned this photo was the 4th of an interesting challenge he had accepted by another Facebook friend of his.
It was a photo taken on September 2018, at the “All European Masters and Instructors, Haidong Gumdo Workshop” held in Athens, Greece. This was where I first met Master Lindfors.
Photo (C) 2018 European Haidong Gumdo Association
As in the photo, we were all practicing sword technics in the sea, very early in the morning. Still dawn. Must have been around 6am. I remember that moment of peace in the tranquil sea. We were focusing on breathing.
Only the small waves stated their presence with their gentle sounds, as they tried avoiding ‘strange’ people standing still and quiet. I can’t imagine how ‘strange’ we would have been seen in the eyes of many people who don’t practice martial arts. But we aren’t just ordinary people; we are extra-ordinary martial artists.
A good memory. One of many we had during the three days of the Workshop. Suddenly a lot of flashbacks started to come up.
Memories of friendship, of hard practicing, of laughs and friendly fights, of cultural exchange, of new knowledge and experiences in the Korean art of the sword. I had forgotten what had happened at the Workshop in only one and a half year. But I was able to reminisce my good past by looking at just a single photo.
The challenge goes:
“Every day for 10 days, I shall select one image, a day in the life of martial arts that has had an impact on me or has been memorable and post it without a single explanation. Then I will nominate someone else to take the challenge. I nominate «name of a martial artist friend»”.
I didn’t want to become a heavy uploader on SNS, so I didn’t want to take part in any challenge. At the same time the COVID-19 situation in Greece started to worsen, and hard measures were taken by the government. We had to stay at home and all unnecessary transportations were forbidden.
In a world at the edge of new pandemics, with the television playing videos and showing graphs of human casualties and sickness, with the terror knocking every door on all nations, something inside of me made this post feel special.
I read the challenge once more, more carefully this time. Then I noticed three important points of the challenge:
“…has had an impact on me or
has been memorable and
post it without a single explanation”.
While looking for photos to upload as part of my challenge, I found photos with my family, friends and colleagues. Each of them had a story to tell and a memory to remember. I could feel somewhat of a hope while looking back at my past days.
Looking back at my old photos filled me with smiles, brought back a lot of good memories with the finest people, brought back positive vibes on my daily routine and showed how something that might appear simple, small and irrelevant, can really become something meaningful and great.
During hard times, staying positive is one thing we all must do. And on these times, we must all be united. Not physically but at least mentally. Just a simple word of kindness and compassion can give each other courage.
Through this challenge, I recalled how Martial Arts have the power to do exactly that. And always remember, after darkness or a heavy rain, the sun, or even a rainbow, shows up.
Are you willing to participate in a challenge like this? If you are, remember the important part of any challenge is the journey. Not whether you fulfil it quickly, or whether it’s flawless or perfect.
Take your time, enjoy the process of looking back at your old photos, try to recall memories that have been forgotten for so long. Memories that are engraved deep inside your heart. They are all parts of you, parts of your life. Then you might find a lot more things than just “best photos”.
I wish you all the best. Stay safe.