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5 things I learned when earning a Brown Belt in Kuk Sool Won martial arts

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.

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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?

 

 

 

Martial arts: you can do it, this is your invitation!

You have the freedom of choice. You can choose to take action or be overwhelmed by your imagined shortcomings and do nothing.

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Photo 1: A high five at Kuk Sool Won Testing Day after a successful board break

Recently my ten year old son asked me whether he could audition for his elementary school’s variety show. I was somewhat surprised as he tends to shy away from the limelight.

He needed three other students to participate and thankfully there were ten others including  my seven year old daughter, who were more than willing to share their love for Kuk Sool Won martial arts with their peers. They called themselves the Kuk Sool Crew.

It was heartwarming to see them band together and practice. They were filled with enthusiastic energy and their excited smiles when they got together were a joy to behold.

Their eagerness to try something different was  inspiring. Although they were nervous it didn’t stop them from taking a chance.

We all have choices to make and chances to take every day. I had always wanted to do martial arts but I thought my age would be too much of a limitation. It took someone to invite me to try before I began my martial arts journey at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California.

An invitation from the school was a catalyst for my kids and their peers to try something different. An invitation from their martial arts Master triggered the start of my Kuk Sool Won adventure.

There are numerous martial arts styles including Karate, Jui Jitsu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Kung Fun, Wushu and Jeet Kune Do to name but a few. I started out trying Tai Chi too. If you check out the newly launched Martial Nation website you can see the multitude of options.

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Photo 2: My training buddy Eveline and I at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin dojang in California

You can choose to stay on the sidelines and dream or you can launch yourself into the fray. The choice and the decision is yours.

There aren’t always obvious invitations to create the spark that ignites us into action but if you need one then here it is!

If you’ve ever dreamed of trying martial arts – this is your invitation! The universe is inviting you – will you accept?

The only permission you need to follow your dreams is your own.

Giving 100%, make the time and make it count!

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Murphy’s law haunts me, whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first. It’s the same thinking that used to move me to action when I was in Church going through the liturgy and got to the part about what we have left undone…

It’s the reason I make lists. I always have one running. Usually it’s on auto shuffle. Parenthood means that new items get added constantly. Life happens.

Finding the spaces to fill that are not already crammed with the necessities and mundanities of living is not a simple process. It requires a firm decision. A decision to choose differently. To prioritize according to the goals you wish to achieve.

Sometimes when I become too focused on one particular goal, others can take a bit of a back seat.  I was reminded of that in martial arts class this week.

Our instructor, Master Saidi, asked us to review our techniques. My anxiety levels immediately peaked because I knew that I haven’t been giving them much attention. In fact in general my focus on training had waned.

I’d had a bout of the seasonal cold and missed a couple of classes. My focus had been more on intellectually pursuing the art and unpacking its stories rather than on the actual practice. Its easy to get distracted as a writer and story gatherer. The outcome of this loss of focus was rather telling.

I had learned about the history and personal journeys of those who practiced the art but I had been neglecting my training. “That’s an interesting technique” Master Saidi declared as I ineffectively tried to recall Sohn Mohk Soo no 3, “perhaps we can add it to our curriculum” he joked.

Chagrin ensued, not a comfortable space but one from where meaningful lessons can be learned if I choose to put my ego aside.

I needed to remember why I was here in this dojang. I had lost sight of my green destiny and my intention and mission was resurfacing in full dramatic style.

You must practice these techniques every day we were told. The Kuk Sool curriculum is vast, if you are struggling at this point the only way to improve is through more practice.

Master Saidi had reminded us earlier that “when you give 100% in martial arts training, it will deliver 100% when you need it. If you slack off during training, your martial arts will desert you in your time of need.

A vivid reminder. There is no room for excuses. I want my techniques to be good. I want them to be effective. To get there I needed focused attention and more training.

You get what you train for. Mediocrity is not an option.

I cannot give 100% of my attention to all my goals all the time. It’s simply not humanly possible. What I can do though is prioritize and give each step 100% in the time allotted to them. Make the time and make it count.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Done is better than perfect- my first Kuk Sool Won public demo

Our Kuk Sool Won school has a select group of students chosen to do demonstrations. They are chosen because of their dedication, skill and commitment.

Kuk Sool Won, yellow belt form, demo in the park

Kuk Sool Won, yellow belt form, demo in the park

Every second Saturday of the month they meet to train together and practice. They are all black brown belts and their exemplary behavior has earned them a spot on the team.

At their last training session however there were two unlikely guests with the rank of blue stripe. They had been asked to join in the training for a particular public demo to illustrate the point that gender and age should not be a limiting factor in a martial arts journey. I was one of those blue stripes.

Since I had just celebrated my 45th birthday it was a fun way to mark the occasion. When I first pitched for the demo training class one of the black brown belt students looked at me incredulously. “You’re doing a demo?” he asked quizzically. “Yes” I responded, ” at my age one has to make every moment count!”

Fortunately I was doing the form along with my training buddy Ramya. I thought she was rather brave to appear in public doing a martial arts form alongside me. She is very energetic, fit and spirited so doing extra training together was great.

The demo was held on a hot and sunny afternoon at a nearby park. It was Community Night at the local Farmers’ Market. The demo team did an excellent job. They clearly were much more familiar with the requirements than I was.

When our turn came I surprisingly didn’t feel too anxious and initially started off well. We were about half way through when things went a bit awry and I kicked with the wrong leg!

At least I managed to smile at my error and move on. Our fellow participants were very complimentary and encouraging. My kids, dressed in their doboks were excited to be there and my sweet husband came straight to the venue after work to offer me support.

We had a second opportunity to do our form and lo and behold I made the same error the second time around! My performance was far from ideal but being there was already a challenge overcome. I still felt a sense of accomplishment and doing the demo in public motivated to keep practicing. We are all growing and learning.

Sometimes done is better than perfect.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Sparring in martial arts? Float like an Iron Butterfly

Young students in sparring gear at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California

Young students in sparring gear at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California

What’s your position? I can’t lock in” the words from a favorite childhood video game come to mind when I think about movement. Moving targets are hard to hit. During a sparring match constantly moving is to your advantage. When you stand still, you’re just a punching bag for your opponent.

Fridays are sparring days at our Kuk Sool Won martial arts school in Dublin, California. My kids attend an afternoon session and I go in the evening. Last Saturday my husband also took his first sparring class on a Saturday morning. Our house is filled with training paraphenalia, mats for falling, targets for kicking, a Wavemaster for punching and kicking and of course four sets of sparring gear.

Despite the fact that our sparring is light contact only the gear comes in very handy to protect against the occasional wayward punch or a kick that packs slightly too much power. Bruises are part of the process I’ve discovered. The ultimate goal though is to improve speed, tactics, techniques and fight sense. Sparring  draws all the self-defense elements together in a simulated threatening situation and teaches you to respond effectively to whatever comes your way.

Every student has a unique approach to sparring. Build plays a role as the taller students have increased reach with their long limbs while the shorter students can use speed to leverage opportunities as they appear. I was in the middle of my fifth round when Master Saidi stopped me to give some feedback.

You need to loosen up” he said “you are not aiming to take him down with each shot. Be lighter on your feet. You have the potential to be great at sparring but your body is too tense.” It was useful to get constructive input. Moving has always been my achilles heel. Both on the tennis and squash courts my husband used to tell me to move my feet and that was about twenty years ago so this message was not new.

What to do about it now was a different story though. I want to get better at sparring and now I know that in order to do so I have to undo a lifetime of thinking that I am too heavy to move faster or be lighter on my feet. Even as a skinny kid I used to drag my feet as though gravity has an extra pull on me. It’s time for a dramatic shift in thinking. Is it possible after so long? I have to believe it is.

Unlike Master Choon Ok Harmon, the Iron Butterfly who started practicing Kuk Sool Won when she was 14 years old and is now the highest ranking female Master, starting out in Kuk Sool in mid-life has different challenges.  Clearly she can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee! At least since my name means butterfly I have some connection to the concept but the floating is going to take concerted effort.

When training your body to do something it has never done before there are no shortcuts. It will take patience, practice and perseverance and fortunately those elements are also part of the philosophy of being a Kuk Sool Won practitioner.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

When exercise isn’t exercise – discovering the thrill of Kuk Sool Won martial arts

Promotion Day, a highly anticipated event by every martial artist whose art has a belt ranking system. Our household was no exception given that there were four us who would be receiving new belts. On this occasion the dojang is decorated with balloons, ninja faces, trimmings and quotations to celebrate the anniversary of the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin school which was first established by Master Saidi in California 25 years ago. The kids were excited as they would receive their new belts in the morning promotion session and the adults in the afternoon. Another goal achieved.

Special Promotion Day celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin School in California by Master Saidi

Special Promotion Day celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin School in California by Master Saidi

I am not accustomed to setting sporting goals. It hasn’t been a been a part of my life as I never found a form of exercise that appealed to me in the way that Kuk Sool Won does. I enjoy swimming and cycling and even named my bike. I enjoy the fun and rhythm of a Zumba workout too. I guess it’s because with these types of exercise my focus is not on the activity itself but rather on peripheral factors. We are all unique and each of us is fueled by different drivers.

I love the buoyancy and look of water, the cool blue color of the ocean or a sun drenched swimming pool lift my spirits. When biking I enjoy the freedom, the beauty of the scenery, the feeling of the wind blowing on my face and the warm sun on my skin. With Zumba it’s the appeal of the music and the fun of shaking what my Momma gave me but in martial arts it is the actual exercise that I connect with.

My anxiety levels before a class are no longer as intense as when I first started 8 months ago but nervous anticipation has replaced it. I get to the school early so that I have some time to focus and breathe before class begins. Just doing warm-up is already a way to gauge my progress and challenge myself. My levels of flexibility have already improved significantly and I can now get my legs over my head while on my back without the fear that I associated with this posture in the past.

My husband often says that golf is 90% mental and 10% mental. My mental attitude towards doing some of the exercises needs to be re-examined with every bit of progress I make. I am completely rubbish at back falls still but the fact that I roll over backwards at all is a miracle to me!

 

Master Saidi and students with their new red belts

Master Saidi and students with their new red belts

The set up of the dojang excites me like the look of blue water, although that may have something to do with the blue springy floors!  Wavemasters are lined up along the mirrors, weapons on racks including bo staffs, knives, spears and even bows and arrows and of course my favorite – swords!

Once the training begins there are so many facets and variables it engages both my mind and my body. Eyes focused, mind clear, hands fast, stance low and kicks high are much easier said than done and you can always improve something – the permutations are endless. I notice my breathing and the ever increasing levels of perspiration. As Master Saidi says “this sweat is not like the kind you get in a sauna, it is hard earned and yields for more long lasting results.”

Picking up a bo staff is a pleasure in itself. The weight of it which seems to increase the longer I hold it. The excitement of twirling it above my head and visualizing myself in a martial arts movie. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of satisfaction of successfully navigating a sparring session dripping sweat like a leaking faucet.

Movement, meditation and mastery of body and mind – crucial elements that underpin any progress in Kuk Sool Won. I have new targets as a blue stripe belt holder that are already set by the comprehensive curriculum but I have personal goals too. To reach 80% flexibility by December in addition to being able to do more than 25 push-ups in one go and to be able to maintain a low stance for more than a minute. These may not seem like much but are quite an ask considering my baseline fitness levels.

These goals however are driving me forward. Everyone has to start somewhere. To me though it’s not like any other exercise I have done and the results are evidence of this fact. Before Kuk Sool I saw exercise as a chore, a necessary evil, now however the thought of the physical exertion is secondary to the thrill of discovering new avenues of growth. Exercise isn’t simply exercise when it connects with your soul.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Martial arts Testing Day, Board Breaking Bliss! 

Happy Board Breakers with Master Saidi at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California

Happy Board Breakers with Master Saidi at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California

‘Twas the night before Testing and all through the house, there were kiais resounding that would scare a mouse!

We had returned from our refresher class that had replaced our regular sparring class on a Friday. I was hoping that a final review of my techniques before Testing would boost my confidence and ease my nervousness.

This might have worked if I actually managed to remember all my techniques though. I had the unusual privilege of working with my ten year old son and he was thrilled with the opportunity. He particularly enjoyed the techniques where I had to throw him.

We left the dojang for the short walk home carrying our bo staffs. We must have made a rather unusual sight.

Testing day arrived and the nervous energy had the kids awake early. It was  great to see how enthusiastic they are!  Watching them succeed just ramped up my anxiety levels though as my own Testing was only late afternoon.

Robin and I walked to the dojang and met some of our fellow students at the door.  The previous testing session was drawing to a close.

Our session began and we went through the series of kicks, punches, forms, techniques and body conditioning testing. Before our forms Master Saidi reminded us about the 5 critical elements:

1. Mind clear

2. Eyes focussed

3. Stance low

4. Hands fast

5. Kicks high and precise

Then came the moment of truth. Breaking a board with a spin kick. “You’ve got this!” encouraged my hubby, it was nice to have support on the sidelines. KSN Sahar also gave us a quick pep talk before the session and reminded us that martial arts women are strong since they have the courage to face their fears and rise to challenges. We have such great instructors!

It’s daunting enough to have to break your first board but then you’re still in the middle of the dojang by yourself and there’s an audience! No pressure.

“Take your time” said Master Saidi. I did. I could feel my sweaty palms and my fast heart rate and then I took some time to pause and breathe. The dojang faded out and so did everything else around me. It was just me and the board.

It was like doing a depth of field adjustment in Photoshop when I edit my pics. I was determined to break it on the first go, especially because I was told it really starts to hurt if you have try several times.

Spin. Kick. Bam it was broken.

Spin kick time

Spin kick time

I was overwhelmed with joy as I bowed to my board holder, JKN Rick and said “Kuk Sool!”

My response was however eclipsed by the bounding happy dance performed by my training buddy Vineela. Such unfettered delight was sheer pleasure to observe.

The euphoria was however not only about the thrill of breaking the board but of what it represented to us. It was about being scared but doing it anyway. It was knowing that this was a journey and facing the challenges it presented to us so that we could grow. It was about pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones and experiencing something new.

The three musketeers as we have now been named, Vineela, Ramya and myself congratulated each other heartily after the session. We could sense that this was just the beginning of our board breaking bliss.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Kuk Sool: What it’s like to be a Martial Arts Mum at forty something

So much fun training together! Together at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin dojang in California after an evening class

So much fun training together! The kids and me at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin dojang in California after an evening class

Mum could you hold the target please?” It’s the summer break and the first thing on my nine year old son’s mind is kicking practice when he wakes up.

Testing Day is about two weeks away and while my children are taking things in their stride I am rather anxious. I need to break a board at this Testing and I need to do it with a spin kick. Unlike jump front kick which gives me a real thrill I have struggled with getting the balance, power and accuracy required with spin kicking.

My training buddies are also working hard on their kicks but as Vineela managed to break a board earlier in the week she is feeling more confident than I am. Ramya popped in yesterday so that we could do some practicing together and her kick is pretty great and consistent so she doesn’t have anything to worry about either.

About the only thing setting my mind at ease is that I don’t only get one chance to break my board.

A stack of boards at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California dojang all ready for Testing Day

A stack of boards at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California dojang all ready for Testing Day

Despite my anxiety though I love facing these challenges. There is always something to push me. Something else out of my comfort zone that needs to be faced and conquered.

I have bruises on my arms from last week’s sparring, I have aching stomach muscles from body conditioning exercises in my last class too. I am trying to increase my flexibility to also assist my kicking and doing the various stretches is challenging to say the least! With hindsight I should have trained my body better about thirty years ago so that it wouldn’t have been so hard now.

I’ve never been an athletic type. Making my body work hard and building up a sweat was something my sporty husband did – not me! My mindset has shifted so much now that I have started Kuk Sool Won. Thanks to Instagram I can easily see that I have been practicing this traditional Korean martial arts system for 23 weeks now. What a journey it is!

There are also so many techniques to learn. Pressure points and joint locks are clearly very effective when executed well but I am having a great deal of difficulty memorizing each technique and I haven’t even learned that many yet! It feels like I forget them the moment they are taught to me. “You are very creative with your techniques” our instructor, Master Saidi chuckles. On numerous occasions he has to remind me to use my “other left”. Thankfully he is very patient and my training buddies, including my husband and kids, are great at helping me too.

Kuk Sool Won is not something I envisioned doing in my forties. I’ve always liked martial arts and started Tai Chi several years ago but when my Sifu immigrated I stopped. It has been a dream of mine to complete a sword form.

When we are warming up in class my son and my seven year old daughter try to encourage me to get my head to the ground during stretches. I can only smile and say I’m doing my best. It hurts but it also gets better with each passing week. Pain is certainly where the growth happens.

My son in action during Kuk Sool Won form training

My son in action during Kuk Sool Won form training

I watch my kids confidently lead warm-up and inwardly cringe at the thought of having to do it myself soon. Speaking in front of people I’m quite accustomed too but doing physical exercises is a completely different kettle of fish.

There are so many lessons to be learned both through learning the martial art and in the situations and discussions it leads to with my family.

You’re treating Testing the same way you treated your University exams!” my husband said to me last week. I had discovered so many mistakes in my     forms and I was practicing hard to fix them. “I don’t like to see you struggle” he added.

That’s really sweet” I responded “but struggling and then practicing is the only way I’m going to get better!”.

Starting something new is a challenge at any age but more so when you’re older and have so many demands on your time. My forty something year old neighbor recently went back to study and successfully changed career paths and is thrilled with her accomplishment despite how tough it was to achieve.

For this martial arts Mum, practice won’t make perfect but just like fear leads to anger then anger leads to hate which leads to the Dark Side, perseverance leads to improvement and improvement leads to encouragement which in turn fuels my aspirations for a healthier body and mind.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Winning the Weight Loss War with my Vorpal Sword and Kuk Sool Won!

Quote Lewis Carroll

Anyone who has had weight to lose knows that it’s a battle to choose to face every day. The easier option is to turn tail before the fight even begins – to announce defeat to a relentless opponent that is far easier to submit to than to hold your ground against.

When I had my first thoughts of writing about my excessive weight, about three years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Factiously Fat-o-wacking to the day of Fit: The beginning of a better end.” The end of course being a more literal reference to the size of my generous posterior. It begins with the end in mind..(and yes I have also read Stephen Covey) this particular end was much larger than it needed to be and in need of some serious toning.

So yes I am a fan of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland movie (and of course Lewis Carroll’s book) and enjoyed the fabulously vigorous Futterwacken by the Mad Hatter on the Frabjous day. While I have no ambitions to have my head spinning at the top of my neck, giving my body a thorough workout to get it into better shape was definitely on the cards.

My fat is my Jabberwock, a relentless scary creature hanging around and although I have on a few occasions managed to slay it with the Vorpal sword of dieting and exercise, it keeps getting reincarnated. So my journeys down this Fat-o-wacking path had been largely unsuccessful but knowing that the creature could be slain kept my hopes alive.

I had been decently sized up until my late twenties when a series of unfortunate events drove me to emotional eating. Everyone has their poison and mine became food. Drink me! Eat me! Oh yes I will thank you very much for asking. I knew though that with each tasty morsel I was feeding my adipose tissue.

My adipocytes were sucking in fat at a furious rate due to the lovely snacks I was imbibing. They were in a state of hypertrophy and getting bigger by the day. What I did not know was that they were heading for hyperplasia. If only I had known I should stop before reaching that tipping point.

Just like those pesky Gremlins when they get wet – fat cells in the right conditions begin to multiply and once they have they never die! It’s like the scariest horror movie ever. You can’t kill them and they are always hungry. They are just waiting for the next dose of fat to feed themselves. The only way to control them is to not give them what they want. Weight loss makes them shrink but they hide in the dark always alert and waiting to grow again. It’s a war where the enemy is always watchful.

Knowing that being overweight means that I have in the region of 75 billion fat cells is a very sobering thought – I picture them like regiments of fat globby creatures with lots of little mouths waiting to be fed. Feed me! Feed me!

The way to a better perkier end is therefore the path to emaciated fat cells on the Frabjous day that I intended to call ‘The day of Fit’. My Kuk Sool Won martial arts journey however has taught me that there is no specific day just like there is no spoon. There is only more practice, more training, the next martial arts goal. My mindset needed a radical makeover and I needed to think profoundly differently about exercise and how I approached it.

Friday Kuk Sool Won Sparring Class at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin with my training buddy Vineela who is helping to make me tough!

Friday Kuk Sool Won Sparring Class at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin with my training buddy Vineela who is helping to make me tough!

My focus changed from the Jabberwock slaying to finding an activity that connected with both my physical and spiritual nature and I found that in the dojang (even though I still think owning a Vorpal sword would be pretty cool)! The numbers on the scale are no longer a fixation and instead challenging myself to achieve new fitness targets is. Going to Kuk Sool Won class thrice a week does not feel like a chore, it feels like an opportunity, mainly to prove to myself that with the correct focus so much more is possible.

I am doing things now that I didn’t think this middle-aged body of mine could handle and because it’s thoroughly enjoyable and there is great camaraderie with my fellow students at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin school, the Jabberwock has gone into hiding with it’s tail between it’s legs. My super friendly and highly skilled instructors have also been very encouraging and keep me motivated. When I get bruises from my training buddy Vineela during sparring she grins at me like the Cheshire Cat and tells me she is making me stronger.  The morning after a tough class with Ma’am Shagasi last week, Ramya my other training buddy, sent me a message to say that she was impressed with my stamina. She in turn has motivated me to do more push-ups.

Training together is a circle of growth for us all.

I am steadily winning the weight loss war and just like Alice discovered Wonderland, with Kuk Sool Won a whole new world of physical and mental accomplishment beckons.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

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