Still Striving to improve myself, one board break at a time

Archive for the ‘Martial arts’ Category

Missing a piece of me

Board breaking 9/21/07

I found myself thinking today about the things I don’t have–a lot of friends, physical fitness, my health intact.
I miss my karate. I miss being able to go to a class and work hard. I miss being able to say “I can do ___ (fill in the blanks)”. I miss the hard work it took to prepare for my black belt test. I miss the camaraderie I had with my classmates. Eventually everyone moves on. Things change.

When I changed schools, I didn’t feel like I was doing well. In fact, I wasn’t. I was completely out of my element. I was overwhelmed by my own insecurities. I have been accused of feeling sorry for myself. I’ve been accused of not working to earn what I wanted. I have been accused of being a “whiner”.

I’m back to thinking about karate. I spent a few weeks working on reading a book called Zen in the Martial Arts by Joel Hyams. Very good read. I have had it for close to a year and just got around to reading it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m back to thinking that I need to start back into training. I may never advance from Cho Dan to anything else, but it’ll at least be a chance to say “I did something for me, something I wanted to do.” Now all I need to do is either make good on my threats to myself or shut up.

It’s time to start working on what I miss.

Bunkai and Tai Chi

In practicing my traditional martial arts, I compared myself to everyone else in the class. I never slowed down and just did the form for me. As a result, I felt highly frustrated and discouraged when I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class.

Today, I went to a Tai Chi practice session that my instructors held at the local park. It was chilly, but well worth going to. I feel like I am learning the form and that it’s helpful to have the instruction. I was able to take advantage of additional instruction after the regular class. I can actually see the bunkai of the movements–it’s easier now that I’ve been exposed to it in my TSD school, to see it in Tai Chi.

The form we’re learning is the 64 movement form. I’m up to the point of the “Four Corners”, which is where we’ve stopped with me. I see the application of the different movements in the form. Leading up to the Four Corners, there’s a “warding off” movement, which would be an application of blocking someone from kicking you, or pushing someone who is grabbing you or pushing you away. It resembles my TSD training. There’s also a high block that is reminiscent of the same type of high block in TSD. It’s uncanny to see the resemblance.

I am going to spend a little more time looking at Bunkai. I never learned it at my first TSD school and let myself stress out over the way I was doing forms so didn’t apply it to myself at the new TSD school. It’s taken a Tai Chi class to open my eyes.

Tai Chi Form class

I jumped into the Tai Chi form class on Monday a week ago and feel like it’s going to work out for me. I remembered some of the movements from the Introduction class and was able to step in and follow with what the rest of the class is doing.
After knowing what I’ve done to myself in Tang Soo Do by comparing myself to everyone else, I’ve made a vow that I’m only going to watch the instructor to see what she is demonstrating. I’m not going to compare myself to anyone else. I like the similarities to TSD. I found out on Friday that I was able to execute a kick *and* I turned my hips over!!!! It was the first time I actually did that! I may go out in the garage tomorrow and go kick my BOB around. Now that I have the room to play, it’ll be a lot easier to get back into practicing.

I’m also going to go out in the yard in the morning and see how much of the first section of the form I actually remember. It’s been a week and I haven’t worked on it since class last week. We don’t have a class tomorrow since it’s Labor Day, so I’ll get a chance to work on my own and see what I remember.
I know I can do it.

The learning never ends

I think I’ve learned a bit of something about myself in the past few weeks. I’ve been reading The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. I got the idea by reading a magazine that gave some ideas about ways to re-energize yourself. I felt that it was something I needed to read. I’m glad I got it.

I’ve been picking out different things in my life that I was sure I could change. One of the things I need to work on changing is my outlook on life. To that extent, I’m trying to step back and take a more child-like view of things. I have found that my stress levels are at a more manageable level at work. I still panic over the sight of multiple calls holding in the queue, but I’m working on keeping myself under control and saying “oh well” to the calls. I am one person and can only handle one call at a time. Just need to remember that I provide better service when I’m less stressed than I do when I let the stress control me.

I have also learned a valuable lesson from Tai Chi. I’ve learned that in my class, we are ALL beginners, except for our Teacher. As far as that is concerned, I am not interested in comparing myself to anyone in the class. All of my focus in class is on myself. I keep my thoughts centered on me. I don’t look around and think “I’m not doing this any worse than so and so is.” That’s a HUGE difference from my TSD classes. In the TSD class, I look at the other black belts and i think, “They’re all so much better than me. I’ll never be at their caliber.” Unfortunately, that’s an Eeyore point of view and is self destructive. I need to apply my thinking that I’ve developed from the Tai Chi classes to my TSD classes. I just haven’t melded the two yet. My ways of thinking are still a work in progress.

Monday, I had my eye surgery and was advised no exercise for a week. They didn’t want anything strenuous to disturb the healing of my cornea. Now that I’ve had that done, I can go back to my regular routines again. I think I’m going to go outside and practice the first part of the form that Elise taught us at the last class. I know it and am looking forward to practicing again.

Tai Chi after surgery?

I’m scheduled for a touch up on my right eye on August 9th. I need to check with my instructor to see if it’s okay to come to class afterwards. I don’t see (literally) how it would hurt anything as I’m not doing anything strenuous. Now the Tang Soo Do class is a different story entirely. I won’t be able to do any kind of jumping jacks or anything that would cause strain on that eye and I’m pretty sure I won’t be going out after dark without a fellow driver with me.

I don’t think the Tai Chi will be a problem. I do believe I’ll be able to do that. I’ll email my instructor tonight and see what she says, but I feel confident I”ll be able to do it.

Tai Chi wisdom

Tonight, my Tai Chi instructor said something that resonated with me. She said that all the ideas of perfection we have are to be left behind because there is no perfection. Her suggestion was to do the technique and if it brings you happiness, if you’re smiling inside, then you did it right. It’s thought-worthy, especially in light of my determination to be ‘perfect’. I got something out of class tonight that I would never have thought I’d pick up.

In class, we did “Move around the world to the left”. It is a neat technique. When done slowly (note to self…MOVE…SLOWLY…), it is very pretty. Some of the Forms Class students came in and worked with one of the other instructors. They were working on the “Four Corners”. It was beautiful. I’m glad I’m taking the time to slow down and learn the Tai Chi. I needed to re-think and re-focus.
I was thinking on the way home from work tonight that I needed the break I’ve taken from martial arts. I’m getting re-balanced in Tai Chi. It’s about balance.


I’m suffering from burnout. I have been seriously burned out from my normal martial arts classes because I have had problems with remembering my forms and I get very frustrated because I’m a perfectionist. I demand nothing but perfection because I have this silly idea that I HAVE to be top notch. However, you cannot be top notch if you don’t practice. If you don’t practice, you can’t achieve the silly ideal of perfectionism you may be carrying around in your head.
This describes me. I get aggravated because I don’t know the Korean for my techniques. I don’t work on learning it. I get aggravated because forms I know I should know, I forget. I get mad at myself because I think that I “should” do something perfectly because I’m a black belt. Then I get caught into a nasty cycle of beating myself up and yelling at myself for doing things wrong.

This led to a lot of thinking (my best friend says I live in my head too much!). I’ve sent stupid emails to my instructors, telling them that I’m having issues. I’ve met with the owner of the school. He finally laid it out-I need to make a serious decision to get it together and decide what really want. I’ve got a yes or no question to answer for him. I just haven’t decided what that answer will really be. Is it in my heart to put in the hours and hours of training and beat myself up to get into top shape and attempt to work toward my second Dan?

Ultimately, I think it all boils down to that. I had this plan when I first got my Dan that I’d be a first Dan, then two years later, I’d be a second Dan, then three years after THAT I’d earn my third Dan…so, if I was “on track” on the old “plan”, I’d be a second Dan, pushing to earn my third in another year. Well, things don’t always work out the way we plan. I’m still at first Dan. I haven’t taken my training seriously. I blow it off more than anyone I know.

I’m working on figuring out what I want to do. To try to work toward that end, I enrolled in an “Introduction to Tai Chi” class through the Parks and Recreation department. I had my first class 7/12. I enjoyed that class and went back last night. I enjoyed that one as well. I truly feel that it is helping me. So far, I’ve only attended two classes, but I learned a little bit about the history of the art, plus I have learned how to “turn the ball” and “wave hands like clouds”. I am practicing the things I’ve learned thus far, which is a far cry from what I’ve been doing with my TSD. I don’t think I’m going to give up the TSD yet, but I’m thinking that for now, my concentration is going to be on healing myself (my leg still isn’t right after that kick *months* ago!) and getting my mind together. Then I can pull it together, go into class without any expectations and I’ll be able to concentrate on training with out putting any stupid burdens on myself.

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