Why I Quit Karate (Tae Kwon Do) After 17 Years – How It Changed My Life!
This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in July of 2020. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgfZ0yeoDkw&t=239s
Bob: Alright, this is Brad’s quote speaking here now. "Why I Quit Karate, Tae Kwon Do after 17 years, and how it changed my life." Wow.
Brad: Yeah. Well, Bob, you know, the mission statement of our channel is how to stay healthy, fit and pain-free and the activity, the adventure of joining a martial arts club or program does it fit into our mission statement?
Bob: I think it does.
Brad: We’re going to talk about this but then why would I quit if it does? This whole thing is going to explain it, explain my background and how I got into therapy, and fitness and trying to share with other people.
Bob: It played a big role in your life, by the way.
Brad: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. If there’s other people out there who are thinking, is it good for my children? Or is it for me? Or maybe I’m too old for that kind of activity? All those questions will be answered.
Bob: Can I ask, how old were you when you started karate?
Brad: Well, I’m 57 now. The school I went to was called American Tae Kwon Do, or American Karate. In America, some schools take the traditional names away and put an American name in there. I’m not going to get into that but actually it was American Tae Kwon Do is what I studied. I also studied some Aikido for a few years.
Bob: I was going to say, I knew you did Aikido.
Brad: It’s a Japanese form, Tae Kwon Do is a Korean form.
Bob: Which one did you do first?
Brad: Tae Kwon Do. They introduced some boxing style into it versus their traditional, which we’re not going to get into that.
Bob: Aikido isn’t that a lot of holds and stuff like that?
Brad: Aikido, it’s a soft form.
Bob: And learning to fall.
Brad: Yeah, you don’t really learn the hard punches and the hard kicks. It’s the soft form. You work with the energy of the opponent. It’s a completely different philosophy.
Bob: I have a friend that’s heavily into that right now.
Brad: At the time I was 22 years old, that was 35 years ago. At the time, running was boring to me. Everything I do now actually was kind of boring to me.
Bob: Right. It’s just like I remember when I was that age and someone would mention golf, I was like, what are you kidding me? You think I’m 100 years old.
Brad: I’ll do that when I get older.
Bob: And I did. I love it now. Now it’s my life.
Brad: So anyways, I just looked in the yellow pages. At the time there was no internet. I saw Karate or martial arts and I thought, I’ll go there. So, I called them up and I went there and continued. For another 17 years I was kind of married to it. I really enjoyed it. Not obsessed but I really enjoyed it.
Bob: A healthy obsession.
Brad: It was, yeah.
Bob: I remember this very clearly, like when I was in my teen years and early 20’s. People that knew karate and studied martial arts, they were very cool to us. Seriously, I remember a guy came into the neighborhood and he had the numb chucks and stuff.
Brad: Was he doing them out in public?
Brad: Yeah, that’s a big no-no. If you’re in our school, you could not do that in public. Unless it was a formal demonstration.
Bob: It didn’t strike me as that. I don’t find that unusual because he was kind of that person who was definitely seeking the limelight.
Brad: You do not show off your skills in public.
Bob: He was using it to get women and show off. But when you’re the teenage boy it’s a real cool factor.
Brad: The whole idea of respect in martial arts is like this. And that would not be showing your art any respect. It would be flaunting it, no no no. That’s not good. And that’s one of the benefits that you can learn. So if your children or you want to get into martial arts, and you go to a school, you’ll know very quickly if the instructor and the philosophy of the teaching of that school is going to fit what you want to learn and what you want your kids to learn.
Bob: So, you don’t want him telling them to sweep the leg, huh?
Brad: Right, yeah. Hollywood often depicts a portrayal of karate as this (big arms)...
Bob: Kick ass type.
Brad: Yeah, exactly. Michael, Claude Von Shawn Bon, whatever his name is. He’s very talented.
Bob: Van Damme.
Brad: But you’re not going to go out there and kick your classmates. If you do, you’re out of the school. That’s how we were. I went into it, not for self-defense, I wanted that social activity and physical activity, and that’s what I found. I ran into people from all walks of life. Doctors, lawyers, people who worked in the trades, like I did at the time.
Bob: What was the older age? What was the upper end of the age would you say?
Brad: I taught a 72-year-old.
Bob: Did you really?
Brad: Yeah. That was the oldest student. The youngest student I had was 4. I started teaching after I was into karate. My third year as a red belt, I just started introductory classes. When I got to be my black belt after four years into it, I started teaching on a regular basis.
Bob: What was your highest level?
Brad: Second degree. I could’ve went for a third degree but I just didn’t take the time to do it. I had enough time in for it.
Bob: I was going to say, second degree is pretty awesome already. I had a friend that got into this and he was doing pretty well. He was in his 40’s and he said the same thing. They had one lady in his class, and she was in her 60’s. First, she started off and she didn’t have the flexibility but after months and months, it just started coming. It was pretty amazing.
Brad: And you get to know these people. Our school was all ages. There would be classes where 5 years old, we’d start people, up to whatever. And some classes would just be adults. Some would be just kids. Then we mixed them at times too. It worked out well. Obviously, you’re teaching children different. You’re talking to them about respect. You’re talking to them about focus, behavior. You’re not teaching that to the adults.
Bob: Sorry, I have to laugh. I just keep thinking of this thing. I’m laughing because if you ever watched Seinfeld, there was an episode where Kramer when to karate class and he was with little kids and he’s kicking their butt. At the end of the show, these kids caught him in an alley, and they beat the crap out of him. All the kids got together. He’s beating like 5-year olds. He’s proud of it. By the way, there’s something I want to mention right now. Brad did write a book. You did this quite a few years ago.
Brad: When I was in physical therapy school. That’s one of the reasons I got into physical therapy. With karate, and I do want to mention this. I was having back problems, I was working a physical job, doing a lot of heavy lifting. Had back problems. I was going to the chiropractor on a regular basis and I had a great chiropractor because she said, well do any activity that makes you feel better. Well, karate made me feel better consistently. The stretching, the range of motion. Now I understand it, back then I didn’t. I just knew I didn’t have to go to the chiropractor. Less money for me and I didn’t want to go anyways.
Bob: Good form, too right? I mean in karate. They’re emphasizing good form.
Brad: Right. Actually, some of the stretches we used to do I would say, back off, but one way or another, I came out feeling better. I didn’t have to go to the chiropractor and actually I just quit going after a while.
Bob: So, you kind of combined your knowledge from two areas. From physical therapy and from martial arts and that’s why you did this book, right?
Brad: Right. I didn’t go back to school until after I was a black belt.
Bob: Now, this book is only available on Kindle, right?
Brad: Right, it’s a kindle. We don’t have paper.
Bob: It’s called Marital Arts Manual. We’ll have a link below. Martial Arts Manual for Stretching, Strengthening and Treatment of Common Injuries. It’s by Brad Heineck.
Brad: So, I took my therapy knowledge and applied it to my existing exercises and the training of martial arts and if you’re an instructor, it’s a great read because you’re going to be a better instructor. You’re going to understand the biomechanics of muscles. How to treat a muscle pull. How to treat if someone got a bump on the head. What do you watch for? If you’re a beginner, if you want to get your front kicks higher, I go through which specific stretches, stretch which specific muscles so you can get your front kick, instead of waist level to head level.
Bob: I would like that right now so I could go from knee level to waist level.
Brad: It doesn’t matter where you are and that’s the beauty of martial arts is if you have a good instructor or a good school, they’ll take you from whatever level you’re at and take you from there and get better.
Bob: The competition is you. Your baseline.
Brad: Your next goal. That’s really the beauty of martial arts is the belt color. Start out with the white belt. In our system, different systems are different. We went from white to gold. Actually, now they added a stripe at that school, which we didn’t have when I was there. And you work your way up, so there’s always a goal. Very goal oriented. Which could carry over into your life. That’s what we did with children. This is your next goal. In school, you want to get to your next grade or that spelling test, and everything works together.
Bob: It’s amazing how that motivates you. I mean, at any point in life. I remember my parents would give us a nickel for B’s and a dime for A’s. I worked my butt off. You know, you wanted approval too. Can I read this or not?
Brad: No, no that was given to me.
Bob: I just thought it might be useful to your children someday.
Brad: It is. It’s a personal note to my stepdaughter.
Bob: I see what you’re saying.
Brad: It’d be okay, but it’d be best not to.
Bob: No, I understand exactly what you’re saying. You were dedicating this to hopefully help somebody’s children someday.
Brad: Right, exactly. It’d be okay to read, but it’s confidential. Going on with it, for 17 years, I’d go to work, I’d do this, practice karate and finally I started to meet some University teachers that taught at UW LaCrosse. I realized these people are just normal. They’re PhD, but I talk to them just like I talk to anybody. I thought, you know, I really want to know why karate helps my body and here I’m talking to these university teachers. I’m like, why don’t I go to school to become a physical therapist? I thought 10 years ago, I would not have ever thought about it. I didn’t have the confidence to go back to college, academics is not my strong point. After building myself up and getting my black belt, my second degree, gave me the confidence. And meeting these people. All of a sudden, why don’t I? So, I did. If I did not have this experience from martial arts training, I wouldn’t be a therapist.
Bob: So how were you at that time?
Brad: I was 29 years old my freshman year in college.
Bob: Listen to this. I’m going to make a statement. This is a compliment to you. Physical therapy school is very, very difficult. It’s difficult, I can tell you, I was kind of my prime of my life as far as memory, academically, and we had a guy in our class that was 30 years old. You were older by the time you got into PT school, right.
Brad: Right, I was 33 years old.
Bob: Amazing, because we had a guy that was 30. He had his PhD in a different topic, and he said he just struggled. These kids remember things so fast. So, by 30, things are starting to slow down already. Really, Brad, really, kudos to you. I mean, to go to school, to start that late, and then get through physical therapy school, which is really, really difficult. I’m not trying to enhance it because we’re therapists, but it is tough.
Brad: Well, because they take your GPA. You have to have a very high GPA just to apply. Then you have to get accepted. One way or another, I lucked out of that because of ignorance. I did not know it was difficult. I realized; well I have to get good grades. Well, I never took any college prep classes in high school. I listened to tutors; I did everything I needed to to get the grades. I don’t know, things just kind of fell into place. Big God sent.
Bob: Really amazing. So, karate led to that.
Brad: Oh, without a doubt. Without the karate, I would have never, with the exception of my brother, a nurse. He did give me encouragement to become a PT. He said, well they have good hours. Better hours than you’re working now. But that’s all he said. He really didn’t care. He did but.
Bob: Well, he had academics behind him too obviously so he could you know, help you.
Brad: He was less academic than I was, coming out of high school. He was a C student.
Bob: Wasn’t he a nurse already at the time?
Brad: Yes, he was a registered nurse. So, I knew if he could do it, I could do it. That was another little boost.
Bob: Amazing how life works, that works out quite often for me too. Like, I’d see others and think, well, if they can do it then I can do it. Now people are looking at us and go, well, if those two can do it, I can get into physical therapy school.
Brad: Right, right! So, if we can get a YouTube channel going, anybody can get a YouTube channel going. The big question after all that.
Bob: After 15 minutes, why did you quit now?
Brad: Yeah. Why did I quit this wonderful activity? Very simple. From the title, I had to go through all that blah, blah, blah. But what happened was I graduated from PT school, and this all happened within a year. I got a job, I got married, and my daughter came along. If you want to do karate, you have to go to scheduled classes after work. I just did not, you know, have the time.
Bob: It’s a fairly intensive time commitment.
Brad: Right. It is.
Bob: What would you say is the minimum per week?
Brad: Well, you should go at least three times a week. You can go two times a week and maybe maintain.
Bob: That’s how long of time then, each time?
Brad: About an hour, but then you talk to your friends afterwards and there’s a social part. It just did not fit. I needed time with my family. I needed time at work.
Bob: Priorities change.
Brad: Right. I’ve had people like a doctor who helped me get into PT school just through encouragement. He and his two children, actually, were in karate and I was their instructor. He also gave me a lot of encouragement for PT school. Just another little thing that helped.
Bob: Encouragement is great, but you did the work. So good for you. I give you applause.
Brad: So, yeah, that’s why I quit. It’s always with me. I still think I might even do an introductory class here. We’ll see how the feedback is.
Bob: You still, it’s amazing the muscle memory you have, and even, I know you always complain about your kicks, but your kicks are way higher than mine.
Brad: I’m afraid I’ll pull a hamstring now. So, very good, that answers the question.
Bob: Interesting story, thanks for sharing.
Brad: You better believe it. Enjoy, and if you’re going to join karate, make sure you check out those schools. You love the instructors and it’ll come right back at you.
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