Breaking Through the Low, Middle and High

For every tournament since earning my high red belt, I’ve worked on the same breaking combination; the vertically stacked low, middle,and high back swing kick. I always miss one. It’s never the same one, but there’s always one.

Breaking is a fun part of the Tae Kwon Do show, but it’s also more – it’s about getting through to that next level and pushing yourself past what you’ve done before. And typically at tournament, with the low, middle, high kick, the metaphor smacks me strongly in the heel of my right foot, leaving both a physical and emotional bruise.

The Low: What are all those things that bring us down? Telling us we’re too old or not strong enough. And why is it so much easier to believe the negative over the positive?
The Middle: What keeps us stuck in our status-quo? The familiar is easy and routines comfortable. But have we become lazy or are we honestly doing our best?
The High:  Look ahead! What’s your next goal? We are always moving forward, as my Sabonim reminds with “constant and never ending improvement.”

It wasn’t by far the flashiest of breaks at the competition. But it reminded me that with perseverance, practice and faith in yourself all things are possible.

Now I need to find some new kicks.

Anticipation

The best part of tomorrow

Possibility

 

Hard and Fast

Writing 101 challenge day 1 – Just write. 20 minutes…go! Sadly, when I write a stream of consciousness, it always ends as a rant. But maybe it will help expel my brick breaking demons. Because even as I reread the post – I still want to try again.

 grey brick

He asks me what I want to practice and I never say. “The brick.” It is a block worse than any pause in my writing. It’s a nightmarish, try/fail, try/fail, try/fail with hundreds of witnesses. All of whom afterwards want to give you friendly helpful advice. Can you imagine – while icing your now swelling hand, listening to the successful saying you should just twist more, or come down straight or you need to jump. At least when something I write doesn’t go over – not so many people will see. I can delete it or wad it up and throw it in the trash. Make a paper air plane and fly it out the window. I’ve witnessed others break. Looks easy enough. I listen to the instructions. I try to practice the motions. But now, when I think about it – it’s something I no longer believe. And worse yet, I don’t think my instructors believe any more either. The “You’ll break it someday.” has morphed into “It’s not required.You don’t need to worry about it.”  But deep down I still want it. So I breathe and visualize. Approach the grey offending slab. Camera flashes blinding. Tablet screens up, recording the event so I can suffer the humiliation over again “but if you watch it you can see where you made the mistake.” Echos of “You can do it” I go through the mandatory practice reaches and drops. Even in my mind, I can’t get enough air. Kiap is weak.Too slow, my arm shoots down off center. And my hand stops as always, on top of the unbroken brick. They say if you do it correctly, it doesn’t hurt. When you do it wrong, the pain reverberates on so many different levels.

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.

A Mental Exercise

ImageI count out loud but say the moves in my head.

18 Low X block
19 Knee strike
20 …
20 …
20 …
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.

The Silent Storm

photo (38)

It’s beautiful this winter, but also isolating. Sometimes our silence is the same. Be sure to find your Poetry or Martial Art (your outlet). Written in response to the DP Challenge.    

The Silent Storm
A season’s shunning
Colder than I’ve ever been
Bereft of presence