I know I harp on this a lot, but you are really never too old to train Poekoelan. With age comes wisdom. You might be scared, yes, but you are not too old. The Poekoelan Community loves and cherishes all of our students, from the youngest newborn to the oldest Grampa. There is room for everyone here, this is what we do. Mas Cheryl, from our sister school, One With Heart Tulen Center in North Portland, has some words of wisdom about how she, a Grandma, started on her training path.
To the left, you’ll see some advanced students in our art. You don’t have to look too closely to notice some gray hairs. Really, there’s a place for you in Poekoelan no matter how old you are!
How Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen Found Me
by Cheryl Hagen
My first Instructor, Bantoe Gerry, once said “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.”
At first I wasn’t sure what he meant. But I now know this was true for me and my family.
When my granddaughter Tara was in first grade at Beach School she came home excited about an afterschool self-defense class called “No, Go, Tell, Yell.” After she attended the class we were invited to St. Johns to a place called One With Heart. We had looked at other martial arts schools for the Tara and her brother, but hadn’t found a place that felt quite right. I was no longer looking. As soon as we walked into One With Heart I said to my daughter “sign them up.” I could feel the positive energy immediately. I noticed everyone was talking and laughing; smiles everywhere, even the instructors. We sat down, watched, and signed Tara up that day.
Tara loves training. She tried for some time to get me to train with her; a grandma, granddaughter thing. I told her I couldn’t do it because of my age and physical condition. I honestly didn’t think I could do it. But many people saw more in me than I saw in myself. One student asked me why I didn’t train. I told her what I told Tara; I was too old and I wasn’t in good enough shape. She pointed out there is no better way to get into shape than to start working out. And she pointed out that there was one student who was older than me when she started training and was now close to earning her Black Belt. I wasn’t completely convinced, but Tara was relentless so I continued to think about it. Finally, at age 52, a smoker, not the best shape, I decided to give it a try. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That was almost three years ago.
Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen is much more than a martial art. Training has helped me meet and overcome life challenges and I know this is true for many people. There are times during training when I have felt frustrated because physical injuries make certain things difficult to do. When I am frustrated Bantoe Gerry reminds me that Poekoelan is like a broken mirror, no two students will look the same. Just like a mirror when you break it, all the little pieces are different, yet together they are complete. So even though I have had to make modifications in my training I can see that I am part of something bigger. And my part is as important as any other.
Today my daughter and three of my grandchildren train. We are growing together. Since I began training, my physical endurance has improved. My brain is more alert. My stress level has gone down. My self-confidence rises with each challenge I overcome. I am more patient than ever before. And I have just about quite smoking.
I am continuously finding new strengths I never knew I had. I tell my story because if one person takes the challenge I took from my granddaughter, that person may find strength they never knew they had. Bantoe Gerry once told me “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.” I never thought I would train a martial art. I certainly wasn’t looking for one. I feel so fortunate that Poekoelan found me.