November is Testing Time again. The fourth and final one for the year. It’s a time for the instructors to assess our skills and for us to establish where our knowledge gaps are.
It’s s bit like a stage performance, a live show with an audience after several dress rehearsals but it also includes a panel of judges. It could be akin to a California’s Got Kuk Sool Talent Show.
Pain is part of the process. As a previously exercise averse individual the concept of pushing your body till it hurts is counter-intuitive. I didn’t expect to discover where all my muscle groups were when I got out of bed in the morning!
Now however I know that the pain is an indicator of effort. If you’ve worked hard enough a bit of pain is a gold star on your workout sheet and if you don’t feel it you either didn’t work hard enough or its time to ramp up your routine.
I’ve been practicing my spin kicks knowing that for testing I would need to do a high spin kick to break my board. It made me very nervous. “So what part of testing causes you the most anxiety? ” our Chief Instructor, Master Saidi asked me. “Board breaking” I responded “followed by techniques and then forms.” And yes that essentially covers everything we do in testing besides body conditioning.
When considering my level of martial arts skill in relation to the task ahead, I felt like Hiccup in How to Train your Dragon saying ” you just gestured to all of me!”
Spin kicks make me dizzy, I can probably do about five in one direction before my world moves like a merry -go-round. Besides that my limited flexibility in my hips means that I struggle to get good height. So my hip flexors ache too.
The objective then is to not have to kick the board more than once.
I failed. My first kick knocked the JKN’s hand who was unfortunate enough to be holding my board. The next kick broke it but the execution left loads of room for improvement. If this had been a talent show I would not make it to the next round.
The night before in class had been one of my best kicking sessions in a while with my awesome training buddy Ramya. I was nailing the target soundly and powerfully with my heel. My leg was almost straight and my accuracy was great. It had boosted my confidence but at testing there was no hint of this history.
I could hear the voice of the Kuk Sool Won Grandmaster In Hyuk Suh in my head saying “you need more practice!”
Peaking the night before made no difference. It was only about how good you are on the day. Sometimes despite the preparation the cosmic forces deal you an unfortunate hand but that is when the show must go on.
What was heartwarming though was hearing the applause and encouragement from our fellow students. Having a martial arts family helps!
It was also inspiring to watch the more advanced belts execute their techniques. Visible indicators of what can be achieved with committed training. Watching my fellow students made it clear where the Kuk Sool talent resides.
Although failure can be disappointing, tenacity keeps us going and perseverance yields results. You do get what you work for. Masters have failed more than students have even tried. Failure and disappointment are part of the journey too but true strength lies in picking yourself up and trying again.
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.