Share the Good!

Everyone’s Martial Arts journey has it’s ups and downs, like all aspects of life.

But for me, the underlying truth remains unaltered: Becoming a martial artist changed my life for the better in countless ways; physically, mentally and spiritually. And when I talk to you (repeatedly) about how you too should become a martial artist – it’s because I know first hand what a difference it can make.

I’m also fortunate to be part of a school open to new ideas and committed to the community. We’ve started a nonprofit taking our program into community learning centers, churches and schools in order to help underserved neighborhoods, children and families who would otherwise not be able to learn Martial Arts.

Visit us at cityyouthmartialarts.com! Learn how you can share the good and inspire others to start their own journey!

J.K. Lee City Youth Martial Arts Program A 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization

J.K. Lee City Youth Martial Arts Program
A 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization

Failing

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 WIN_20140131_130933 (2)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.

An Hour in the Sun

Took a posting respite after finishing the poetry project to concentrate on black belt testing. There is always a little let down following the end of a test or project – that sense of ‘Great. Now what?’  The short story below was written as a birthday gift for my chief instructor.  He consistently reminds us to be happy in the present – “Breathe in the positive. Breathe out the negative.”

An Hour in the Sun

“Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam” she chatters happily, sitting tall in the front seat of the grocery cart, a Gerber baby, all eyes and smiles, proud of her first and only word.

Grandmothers would stop them in the aisles saying “How sweet. How precious.”

“Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam.” She entertains.

“Is that her father’s name?” They ask.

“No.” The young mother shakes her head, torn between embarrassment and humor.

“Sam’s the dog. “

The beloved mongrel under discussion is in his second favorite place. The lake at the camp house is his personal park. Taking his time to distinguish between new and old scents, he walks slowly around the hikers path, exploring alcoves. He is an aging dog, keeping track of raccoons, rats, cats, skunks, and possums, but chasing only when necessary. He has nothing to prove.

Mid-May, Lake Keesus bursts with life; saplings stretching for some light, birds busy planning and gathering, fish and frogs welcoming the water’s warmth, and young insects already moving at a frenetic pace with a life’s work to be accomplished in a matter of months. Sam pauses to greet Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and properly admires the line of ducklings between them. He stops to commiserate with Mother Rabbit, the bunnies slow to learn caution. He smells the newly hatched Garter before he sees him, which saves him a nip to the heels. Sam doesn’t stop to talk. Young snakes think they know everything and want to tell you. Old snakes know a lot but are always uncomfortably sizing you up as dinner.

Sam approaches a shallow inlet and spies two boys poking the waters edge with a long stick, trying to capture a recalcitrant turtle without getting their feet wet. He startles them by barking. They drop the stick and back away, uncertain of his intent. The turtle sticks his head out in relief.

“IMPECCIBLE  TIMING, SAM!” The snapper shouts. Sam’s hearing is still keen but the old turtle’s a touch more deaf and tad louder every spring.

“HOW DID YOU WINTER?”

“Warmly.” Sam stretches and scratches behind his ear. “And you?”

“SLEPT LIKE A BABY.”

Sam tilts his head to the side. “The baby at the house doesn’t sleep much.”

“SOME SOULS HAVE TROUBLE WITH QUIET.”

Sam is distressed as turtles are notorious soothsayers. He paces back and forth.

“AN OBSERVATION NOT A PROPHECY. I’M NOT AWAKE ENOUGH YET FOR FORTUNES.”

Sam relaxes and suggests, “You may have to find another spot.”

“THOSE BOYS DON’T MEAN HARM. I AM QUITE THE SPECIMEN. MAY EVEN SUGGEST AN AQUARIUM IN A FEW SPRINGS. MIGHT LIKE BEING CARED FOR. “

“It’s a give and take.” Sam replies.

The old turtle laughs. “YOU’RE A WISE ONE, SAM.  STOP BY TOMMOROW?”

“So long as it’s not raining.” Sam sees the sun coming towards it’s peak and retraces his steps back towards the house. It’s about that time.

Making his way along the water’s edge, he recalls past adventures; memories with almost tangible tastes, sounds and smells. It is unusual for him to reminisce. Dogs are current in their thinking, focused on the here and now. But today, those reflections sharpen his sense of the present – why he is where he is – the traveler and tramp, finally settling with a family.

He pushes through the door and climbs the back stairs leading to the nursery.

“Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam.” His name is chanted in time with a bouncing mattress.

He crosses the room to the other side of the crib, closest to the window. The late morning sun streams through the screen, warming the rug. He lays down, relishing the light. His favorite spot.

“Oh good. See, Sam is here.” The mother instructs. “Now lay down, only an hour or so – just like Sam.”

She copies her first friend, putting her head down to rest, peering at him through the bars, eventually closing her eyes to sleep.

Behind in the Count (And Poems 17, 18, 19)

I woke with a chill and sore throat. Lunches, sit ups, stretches, three  ibuprofen and a half pot of coffee later, I thought I might live through the morning.  Sometimes you push through.

I had an energetic group of twenty three 4 to 9 yr.old’s at the school I was visiting this afternoon. It was a challenge to keep their attention.  Even more so when one of the youngsters had a potty accident.  We took two giant steps forward and continued with class.  Sometimes you have to persevere.

At the end of session, as the children were going off with their parents, one of the boys commented (almost to the room as a whole), “This is the greatest class!” Sometimes you find the sweet spot and knock it right out of the park.

Still playing poem catch up and then to top it off missed yesterday.

#17
Behind in the count
Wasted moments wondering
Timing’s everything

#18
Malodorous pill
A vile tasting tincture
The better it works

#19 Sunday Spirits
God was resting on Sunday
so Satan stopped over
with some sugar and spirits
“It’s too early for me
to be imbibing.”
“Nonsense, mimosas were invented
for breakfast”
His ratio of champagne to orange juice
was way out of whack.
He held it out to me, tempting,
“It’ll make your whole day better”
I smiled and took a small sip.
“Yes, maybe,
but what about tomorrow?”

Wake Up!

4:10 a.m.
Beep beep beep
Someone remembered
Beep beep beep
To set
Beep beep beep
Their alarm
Beep beep beep
But then
Beep beep beep
Forgot where
Beep beep beep
They hid
Beep beep beep
The phone

Poem # 8 in the NaPoWriMo challenge – inspired by actual events!

Don’t Just Stand There

We lead by example.

I was slightly shocked yesterday at the school yard drop off.  There was the normal multitude of children and parents waiting for the bell.  The students are often rough and tumble in the morning; snow mound climbing, tag, ice sliding, and staging reenactments of wrestling moves seen on television.

It almost looked like a game.  The larger boy chasing the smaller.  Grabbing him by the coat and throwing him on the ground.  Repeat.  Repeat.  It started to appear less and less fun.  But all the parents simply stood there, ignoring or not wanting to be bothered.

On the next repeat, I stopped them.  Used my serious classroom voice. “Hey! If that’s a game, it’s too rough.  If it’s not a game, knock it off.”  The smaller boy disappeared in a flash, the larger stomped off glaring.

My son told me later that the larger boy is always hurting people.  We talked about things he could do, safely, if he saw it happening again.

Children learn by watching.  If we let things go, they will as well.

And perhaps by doing, we can wake up some of the adults too.

Nightmare

A small band of miniature white belts, encouraged by some slightly older purple belts, armed with long foam noodles, invaded the Sabonim’s office and laid waste to everything in sight.  The space and the children were all out of proportion, so they could reach the breakables and files and electronics.

The parents watched as if to say “Isn’t that cute”.

Arriving too late, I surveyed the disaster with horror. Shouted stop. Removed the weaponry.  Lectured on how a martial artist behaves.

Sabonim arrived, looking stern, as if to say “How could you let this happen?”  Children made to apologize.  Crying.  Parents then complaining I was too harsh. Morphed into a group treatise on all my personal failings.

It was then I awoke.

Perhaps I need to take a day off.