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Of Martial Arts Training and Limitations

Black belt is

You are not rich until you have something that money can’t buy.

A new year brings new training schedules. It’s a year ago that I began my Kuk Sool Won journey and it has been a real roller coaster ride of successes and growth opportunities. Being a martial arts newbie at middle age takes determination and can only be accomplished if you learn to take yourself a little less seriously.

It has also been a year ago that I started this blog, along with a lovely and remarkable community of individuals because of the Seth Godin Your Turn Challenge.

I am a goal and result oriented individual while also being a time dependent personality so setting goals and making lists is an automatic practice at the start of a new year.

What is unique about 2016 though is that I did a training schedule first before writing down my goals in other key areas of my life. Given my usual approach I would add exercise and view it like a mountain that needs conquering. A necessary set of tasks on the way to taking better care of my health.

Now however I see a training schedule as so much more than a series of tasks. In the past I didn’t relish the idea of training. It just provided the means by which I could build a healthier me. Now training is like a chapter in a novel. Each one enhances the experience and within each one new lessons are learned. Taken together they all tell a story and become a collection of learnings building towards a specific end objective, in my case, a black belt before my 50th birthday.

After all, a black belt is a white belt who didn’t quit and I plan to see this journey through.

If you do what you love you never have to work a day in your life. If you train for something you’re passionate about then training is no longer a task. Every bit of training I do is leading me to a new point of growth.

It is said that an old dog can’t be taught new tricks but if the old dog is still young at heart it can still learn an amazing array of things. It’s just the willingness to do so that is required.

I am taking my body to levels of fitness that I never thought possible and it is changing my expectations with each new milestone I reach.

I expected that my age would be an automatic glass ceiling on my martial arts journey but the only limitations I’ve experienced are those I’ve imposed on myself.

How about you?

For some inspiration why not check out some of the other Your Turn Challenge Bloggers:

  1. Remarkable Runs
  2. The Positive Pragmatist
  3. Robin Estevez
  4. Women of Wonder
  5. Linens and Laurel
  6. Joyce M Sullivan
  7. Wholistic Sound
  8. Andy Stitt
  9. Listen and Hear
  10. Randall Hartman
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Just a white belt? You need to begin to unleash the awesome!

Quote start great

My fifth Kuk Sool Won lesson and my anxiety levels still peak before class. Punctuality is something our instructors and I take seriously so I am always at the dojang at least 10min before the lesson begins.

My eyes are drawn to the brown belts in training. Eyes focused, mind clear, hands fast and stance low – that’s what Master Saidi calls their attention to. Such control and flexibility is wonderful to observe.

White belts unite

Time for my class to begin and I find my spot on the mat. Beside me a tiny and completely adorable toddler takes his place to begin his second class. We are separated in age by about forty years but in the dojang we are the same. White belts – the lowest rank.

I meet another mature white belt student who has just returned from an extended overseas trip. She is delightful and just as anxious as I am because her long absence requires her to refresh some of the skills she has already been taught.

We plough through techniques and forms together. It’s great fun and we have a sense of accomplishment completing the introductory stances and moves in unison.

A lesson about beginning

One of my favourite stories as a child was Alice in Wonderland and her conversation with the Mock Turtle about lessons came to mind:

‘And how many hours a day did you do lessons?’ said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.

‘Ten hours the first day,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘nine the next, and so on.’

‘What a curious plan!’ exclaimed Alice.

‘That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lessen from day to day.’

I am glad that these kind of lessons don’t apply in Kuk Sool Won class. I need all the teaching and practice I can get!

I am mindful of my self-talk. Don’t think because you’re brave enough to start that it’s going to be easy. Don’t think that overcoming your lizard brain means that there will not be further obstacles or naysayers or moments of self doubt.

This might not work but I’m doing it anyway. “We don’t have to be great to start but we have to start to be great.” to quote Zig Ziglar. We all have something awesome inside of us to share but if we don’t start then nobody will ever know. You need to begin to unleash the awesome!

The next goal

We stop our practice to observe the brown belts. Even with their advanced skills the Master still corrects certain postures and hand positions. They are still learning too. In martial arts there is no finish line – only the route to the next goal.

I find this comforting. As much as we learn there is always more to know. Master Saidi tells us there will be tournament practice and that he expects the white belts to go to tournament too. This is a bit of a surprise as it’s less than 2 months away! A new learning goal is set.

We get to bow out at the end of class and we stand on the tape in rank order – white belts last of course. My spirits have buoyed. Even the longest journeys begin with a single step.

Have you taken your step?

Jump front kick – believe you can!

Yoda Quote

It seems perverse to my non-athletic brain to put jumping and kicking into the same move. However after trying it for the first time, I think I’ve found my new favourite kick!

It was my third Kuk Sool Won class. It starts at 7pm so at 6pm I can already feel my anxiety starting to build. It’s still unfamiliar territory and completely out of my comfort zone.

We get through family dinner and I can sense that my heart rate has gone up and my palms are getting clammy. Sweaty palms are a real nuisance – I always feel like I’m holding out a wet fish when someone tries to shake my hand.

Tonight my hubby and two kids are escorting me to class. I can see the kids eyes gleaming as they look at me in my black dobok (uniform) -they look pleased as punch with me. This of course does not prevent them from mocking me for being a white belt. Kids – they certainly know how to keep your ego in check.

Rick leads warm-up and since Master Saidi is busy with tournament registrations he keeps us going with kicking practice.

I managed the first few ok but then Rick mentions the dreaded spin kick. I’ve had episodes of vertigo in the UK and ever since then any form of spinning really ramps up my anxiety levels. My martial arts loving doc said I would be fine as long as I took it slowly . Here goes nothing I thought.

My kicking partner was a rather shy girl with a yellow stripe belt and a hair clip that kept falling out. “Pick that up please. ” Sir asked her “someone may step on it and damage my floor.” I couldn’t suppress my laughter – spoken like a true martial arts Master, no mention of any injury to the foot.

My partner was kind and patient and had to hold the kicking target. I got rather confused with the spin kicks not always knowing which leg to kick with after I turned but I soldiered on. I asked another student, Paul, to demonstrate the kick again and he kindly obliged. That kick will certainly take more practice. I was told though that my kick was fine – I just needed to believe I could do it.

Then Master Saidi called for some jump front kicks. Seriously? I took two steps, jumped and kicked and my foot hit the target with a resounding thwack! It felt awesome and hearing the sound of the contact was extremely satisfying. Like hitting the sweet spot on a driver.

“Do or do not, there is no try ” said Yoda. I think the second kick worked better because I didn’t overthink it. I just did it. I believed I could.

Is there anything you’re overthinking? Believe you can and do it!

 

At the dojang in Dublin, California

At the dojang in Dublin, California

 

 

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 Won Association.

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