Hi, my name is Flavio Livide, and I work as team lead and software architect for Huawei Ireland. I studied automation engineering, and landed in a telecommunication company shortly after graduating. That was about 16 years ago… Time flies fast! At the beginning of my career, I received a call from a friend asking if I would be interested in joining a start up with him, so I did. I guess it was the challenge of doing something new with technology. The thirst for innovation is something that I have carried with me ever since.
Outside of my tech work, I enjoy spending time with my kids and practicing Tae-Kwon-Do. About three years ago, I was looking for a sport for my children, and heard that the Tae-Kwon-Do Dojang in Athlone was really good. After my kids joined, I decided to as well.
However, my interest in martial arts goes back a very long time. I used to train Karate when I was a teenager, but dropped it when I started university. I did not come back until I saw my own kids on the mats, and the other people training. For a split second, I looked at them and saw myself twenty years younger. I guess my Karate master left a deeper mark than I thought.
Like many martial arts, Tae-Kwon-Do is a mind cleaning experience. I love technology and solving problems, but the brain always needs a break. It is very hard to think of something else when there are kicks flying at your head! Even patterns require a lot of focus, so this outlet is definitely a good break from software architecture, mathematical models, and organization headaches.
Tae-Kwon-Do has multiple areas of study. There are patterns, sparring, pure self-defense, breaking techniques… some people specialize in one of them or progress through all of them. Patterns are a precision and control exercise, as well as an incredible workout. They are a series of movements that are performed rhythmically and fluidly. Sparring, which is essentially fighting, can be rather different depending on the federation, because different rules change both the sparring style and the techniques completely. Self-defense involves locks, takedowns, and a number of effective techniques that are not part of sparring. Breaking, despite what it may look like, is a technique and precision game before strength. Hitting in the wrong way will not work, and may cause injuries.
In general, there are enough areas to train every day and never get bored. Different areas train different skills, abilities, and muscle groups. However, it is important to be careful for the first few months. Ankles and joints take time to condition; most people are not used to training barefoot.
Outside of the physical requirements, all of those practicing Tae-Kwon-Do should observe the student oath: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. The origin of the oath came from the fact that Tae-Kwon-Do was founded shortly after the Korean War, and those early practitioners wanted a strong moral ground with which to start. Moral and ethical ground rules are actually very common across a lot of martial arts. They make you a better person, and it gives you more confidence when you are training.
Tae-Kwon-Do is more than fun, or even staying fit. At my age I do not have ambitions to win competitions, or to become a ninja or Bruce Lee. I know my limits and practice a martial art for what it is: a balance between self-protection and self-perfection. It is also a place where improvements and results come purely from effort. No organizations, projects, dependencies, presentation of results, or budgets. It is just a mirror, a set of exercises, and a board to break. No excuses. Training with students twenty years younger at my age is enough of a challenge. The real competition is against myself, and any improvement is a success.