The taekwondo ‘kid’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Woman proves age doesn’t matter

By Jason Norman

When Bobbie Mercer received her yellow belt in taekwondo after only a few months of lessons, she was proud. Her instructors and classmates were proud.

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So were her grandchildren.

&uot;Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I’m not capable of doing things,&uot; said Mercer, 69, who takes lessons at the Suffolk YMCA twice a week. &uot;It’s fun. When I fall on my back, I just laugh and enjoy it.&uot;

A mother of two, grandmother of three, resident of Chesapeake, native of Scotland and teen supervisor at the YMCA (&uot;I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none!&uot; she said), Mercer took up martial arts when the facility’s employees got some free lessons in March.

&uot;I used to play field hockey and run in races,&uot; she said. &uot;I thought, ‘I’m taking this up just to prove to myself that I could.’ The only thing that bothered me was that I was much older than everyone else, but that just means that I don’t do things as fast as them. It takes me a wee bit longer to do things. If might take other people two weeks to do things and it might take me six, but I’m still going to do it.

&uot;I just love sparring and punching. This is the practical side of learning defense; at my age, I never know if someone will attack me, but I have an idea about what to do. It’s more or less self-defense, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Being old does not deter me from any act at all. Each time I do it, I feel better.&uot;