COLUMBIA — When Jim Howe took his starting position for the 200-meter dash Saturday, some familiar feelings came over him. He compared the anticipation and excitement of being on the starting block to how he feels before a tae kwon do bout.
“When I come here, I’m nervous leading up to a race,” said Howe, of Wildwood. “But then it’s like going into a sparring match. It’s like, ‘Hey. Let’s have some fun. Lets just do it.’ So when I get in the starting box it’s like, ‘Let’s have a race.’”
Howe, who finished second in his heat in the 200-meter dash at Saturday's Missouri State Senior Games, is a red belt in the martial art of tae kwon do, which involves the extensive use of kicks. He started attending tae kwon do classes with his daughter, who encouraged him to join her.
“I think a lot of adults end up in tae kwon do and karate the way I did,” he said. “My daughter started taking tae kwon do class, and she wanted me to go with her. When she got into high school, she got interested in a lot of other things and quit going to (the class). But I still go.”
Howe has also participated in several sprinting events in the Missouri State Senior Games for five years. He said he thinks the comprehensive nature of his martial arts workouts prepare him well for track season.
“Our workouts have a lot of endurance, a lot of flexibility and a lot of strength to them,” he said. “And a lot of speed. So I think that has served real well as my winter preparations for sprinting in the spring.”
Howe sees tae kwon do as more than just a training regiment. He said that through martial arts he has gained a heightened sense of perception in his day-to-day life.
“I’m not sure exactly where it comes from, but you start to build a different kind of attitude about things,” Howe said. “You gain an awareness of what’s around you, it changes your balance, and how you carry yourself. It sounds corny, but you become a bit of a warrior and gain a warrior mentality.”