Is there something you always wanted to do but thought there was too much water under the bridge to take a chance? Of all the things I expected to do in my mid forties, earning a martial arts brown belt was a bit of a surprise.
Photo: Master Saidi congratulating me on receiving my brown belt on Promotion Day at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California Photo Credit: Swathi Ravi
The journey to brown belt has been enlightening and the top 5 things I learnt are:
1. Listen to the Yeasayers and Not the Naysayers
Not everyone will be supportive or happy for you. Some will be indifferent and some will even be mocking and condescending. Naysayers helped me to focus on the reasons I chose to do martial arts and to pay more attention to those who were being supportive and encouraging. Seth Godin defines the Yeasayer as being the opposite of a Naysayer. Find your camp of Yeasayers and let them encourage you to reach your goals.
2. When the student is ready the teacher will appear
Instructors are crucial in getting you where you want to go. A credible instructor with a great track record who fosters an environment that motivates you is critical. My family and I are fortunate enough to have a remarkable instructor in Master Saidi who knows how to teach each one of us to reach our full potential. Find an instructor that matches your learning style.
3. Pain is part of the process
Fear of injury was a huge concern for me when starting out. In class one of the mature adult students often jokes about the ‘mileage” we have to take into consideration in our training. Warming up is important as well as pacing yourself in the challenges that are encountered. However carefully I approached the activities though – I still got hurt. I sprained a toe on a training mat, hurt my back over stretching in warm-up and have regular bruises after sparring class. I came to realize that when practicing martial arts, pain is part of the process no matter how cautious you are. I often think of my friends battling cancer and consider myself to be fortunate to have a healthy body that I can push to its limits. My body can heal and conditioning makes you stronger. Experiencing pain is also where many lessons are learned.
4. Teamwork makes the dream work
Although practicing martial arts is a personal journey and a lot of the training is done by yourself, team support is a huge benefit. Training partners give feedback that is invaluable. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a dojang family to raise a martial artist. Different training partners teach you various aspects of what needs to be learned. I am fortunate that my husband (blogger at Remarkable Runs) practices the same art and is also a fitness fundi so is able to give me great advice and support during my training. The journey to black belt is better with a team helping you reach your goals.
5. Time passes whether you make it count or not
The clock doesn’t wait for you is what I remind my children whenever they are taking too long to get ready. I have often wished I started out training when I was much younger and still had more pliable and malleable muscles. There are some people who have inspired me though who defied their ages and still achieved their goals. Often people will tell me that they would really like to try out a martial arts class but they will wait for various reasons like: till they have more time or had another child or found a job closer to the dojang. Time is passing anyway and its up to you to make it count.
My martial arts journey continues as I have ambitions of earning a black belt. If all goes according to plan that should take another 3 years of training. Three years will pass anyway – what will you do with yours?