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A challenge I overcame through persistence

xxgraceanxx 5 / 8  
Nov 29, 2009   #1
Hi! This is my essay for University of Southern California. Feedback is appreciated!

Thomas Edison failed many times before successfully inventing the modern electric light bulb. He said, "If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." Reflect on a challenge you overcame through persistence.

I've always remembered the traditional Korean saying, "Chil Jeon Pal Gi." Literally, it means one fails seven times, but keeps trying and succeeds on his or her eighth try. I've realized the importance of persistence in order to succeed through competing in many Kumdo tournaments.

Kumdo, which literally means "the way of the sword," is a martial arts sport that emphasizes developing inner strength and maintaining a calm mind and a pure attitude at all times. Mastering kumdo requires dedication for perfection in "ki-kum-chae," a technique synchronizing the yell, the sword, and body movements. Since fifth grade, I have trained at least three times a week and have competed in tournaments from California to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

When I entered my first Kumdo tournament, I lost during my first match against one of the best girls in my division. Although I was upset that day, I repeated "Chil Jeon Pal Gi" to myself many times. I trained harder than ever, working on my techniques and observing others who were more experienced than I was. I analyzed my weaknesses and waited for my next chance. I was determined to display my skills and win the next time. However, when the next competition arrived, I was devastated when I lost in only a few seconds against the same girl. Humiliated, I wanted to give up on Kumdo. However, after reflecting on the importance of "Chil Jeon Pal Gi," I gritted my teeth and trained at my Kumdo academy twice as hard by perfecting my moves even during the weekends by myself. Before I knew it, my next tournament was approaching quickly.

When I go to a tournament, I get pumped up to face my opponents even before the basic warm-up exercises begin. At the beginning of my first match, I let out my loudest, most intimidating yell, which I have worked on throughout my training. I became for my "dinosaur shriek," the kind that rings in people's ears for a long time. Many referees in the LA tournaments now know my yell and comment, since it is loud and unique, "Oh, that's Grace An from the Silicon Valley."

In every match, I watched each of my opponent's moves carefully and quickly analyzed the patterns in their attacks. By observing their moves, I could anticipate what they might do next. Since strength and speed are crucial to winning, I used a variety of motions so my opponents wouldn't be able to predict my next moves or figure out my unique style. Sometimes the matches lasted up to twenty minutes if they went into overtime, but I kept going and fought until I got that final point to win the match.

During the final match of the Kumdo Championship, my opponent and I quickly shifted our feet back and forth in the arena, looking for an opening to attack. In a Kumdo match, receiving a single blow ends the match, so I had to stay alert the whole time. As I fought, I heard my opponent's friends cheering for her. Suddenly, I heard my dad cheer for me. Since his voice was the loudest by far, even the basketball players on the other side of the gym were startled and dropped their balls, shocked at such a loud voice. My dad's voice was louder than three of my opponent's friends combined, and I felt more energized to compete. I eventually maneuvered so that I was face to face with my opponent; I gave off a yell, only a few inches from her left ear and she turned her face away. In a fraction of a second, I struck the winning blow and earned the final, tiebreaking point that made me the winner of the girls' division of the North American Kumdo Championship.

Through participating in this exciting sport of Kumdo, I display another side of me, a fearless, "in-your-face," loud side that most people don't know. They think of me as a quiet, shy student, but winning at Kumdo with persistence after many losses has made me strong and proud of the confidence and skill I have developed, which has, in turn, shown me that I can do everything with persistence. I will remember "Chil Jeon Pal Gi" whenever I am faced with a challenge and keep trying until I reach my goal.
ssuraj 4 / 7  
Nov 29, 2009   #2
Nice essay. Good way to describe the situation and reflect. However, i believe you can improve your last paragraph to add more things about how it has impacted you as you reflect upon this incident. Think of it this way. You spend 80% of your essay describing Kumdo and your match with that korean saying thrown in, but what has the reader truly learned about you? Other than your loss and motivation to win the next time around, nothing. You need to either add onto your last paragraph to show specifics of how you have been impacted or include it throughout your essay. Other than that, great approach! Tweak it a little here and there and it will make your essay that much better. Good luck!

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