We have a color belt promotion testing this week. Many parents will inquire as to their child’s readiness because, in their words, they don’t want their son or daughter to FAIL.
We reassure and explain. We would not invite them if they were unprepared. Testing is not merely about perfecting curriculum. It’s about building our character. We persevere with a positive attitude even when it’s hard. And if we don’t succeed the first time, we try again.
What saddens me is when a few of those same parents, despite their own feelings, will allow their child to quit in a few months because “he doesn’t want to.”
Quitting is the only true fail. Everything else is experience, preparing you for what is to come.
18 Low X block
19 Knee strike
It’s gone. So I start over. Again, stall at 19. Take it once more from the beginning but the remaining 32 moves at are inaccessible, lost somewhere in the recesses of my brain. The more frustrated I become, the less I can remember, despite patient reminders from the instructors. I head home from class disappointed, finding little consolation that I made it through the 486 combined moves of all my previous forms.
It would be easy to take the night off. Go to bed. Try again some other time. But that’s not what a black belt does. It’s not the example I wish to set for my students. Practice and perseverance set us apart.
So once everyone else is sleeping. I take out my cards. Breathe. Read and walk through it over and over until the light bulb blazes into being over my head. That joyful a-ha moment endorphin rush encourages a dozen more repetitions. And I wake up early, so I can do it again.
I love Martial Arts because it provides both physical and mental challenges. We need both to be our best selves.
My great-uncle Joe, teasing my mother and aunt who were staying at the farm for a few weeks in the summer, cut the head off a chicken which ran around blind, until it realized it was dead.
I’ve been contemplating goals since the new year. And feeling a little like that chicken. There are so many obstacles. At school, work and home nothing seems to get accomplished. The weather shuts us all in, something new breaks, or someone gets sick. And it’s easy to use all those things as an excuse.
So, I made myself a playlist. Titled it unoriginally: RUN. I come to work early, plug my tablet into the main dojang speakers, crank the volume until I can feel the music, and then I start my laps. And that one accomplishment helps me focus.
Uncle Joe was fortunate that my Great Grandmother let him keep his head, when she was told what he had done. But I’m thankful for the proverbial connection.
And even though I’m running in circles, I’m feeling a little less blind.
I sometimes have concerns about sharing my blog due to content. How much do you let friends or acquaintances or co-workers or your mother see? I self censor myself rather harshly but even the hint of someone else telling me what I can or cannot share through my writing has me up in arms. It made me remember this original poem – written as a response to a censorship discussion. (It might appear in this blog previously but a search didn’t pull it up. It can be found in my book!)
In Defense of Fairy Tales
Distressing damsels vainly wait
in unreachable dark towers,
while poker playing princes
yawn at the late hour.
Wolves walk right past Grandma’s house;
the dwarves stay underground;
sirens see from fathoms deep,
but do not make a sound.
Giants hide in mountaintops,
where dragons breathing smoke,
watch the wizards magic fail,
and jesters tire of jokes.
Witches spells remain uncast,
no one wins or loses,
quests kept unaccomplished
by vanquishing the muses.
Children safely under wraps,
looking through the glass,
the forest is so harshly lit,
all can lamely pass.
Fairies fret and sadly wonder
why we must be burned,
and fail to see within their tales
lessons to be learned.