Black Belts: Learn From Everyone

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I’ve been wanting to spar with some of the senior team fighters over the past few weeks, but I’ve been too shy to ask. They’re half my age, a head taller than me, and very skilled in competition sparring. I felt like I’d slow them down if I asked them to practice with me. I do like the younger kids I usually practice with. Some of them are former students of mine, so I feel very comfortable with them (and now they’re all almost taller than me), but sometimes I really want to be pushed and challenged. I want to be forced to think and practice in a different way. I want to learn new things. Hopping around with tweens and teens isn’t always going to cut it.

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Taekwondo Is Who I Am

Melanie black belt meditating

I’m writing this at my desk on a quiet, pretty Sunday afternoon while I sip ginger kombucha to ease my perpetually irritated stomach, try not to feel overwhelmed about some assignments my managerial editor has given me for my book, and hope I wake up in time to jump on an 8 AM conference call.

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Black Belt Bravery: Be Honest About What You Want and Don’t Want

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Recently my Master asked me if I wanted to do competition (forms and board breaking) or focus on testing for third Dan. Without hesitation I said I wanted to focus on third Dan. Breaking boards is fun as hell, but I’m not interested in competing. Continue reading “Black Belt Bravery: Be Honest About What You Want and Don’t Want”

Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

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“You can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

I was attending a three-day change management training with about 15 other people from various industries. We had been working on in-class projects and presentations, and one man from a well-known tech company casually said to a classmate as he plugged away at his project, “You can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

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Don’t Be Frustrated. Be Fascinated.

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I am a second degree black belt, but I am not an advanced fighter.

Sparring has never been my forte as a child or as an adult taekwondo practitioner. Sometimes I’ve hated it. Sometimes I’ve looked forward to it. Sometimes I both dread and enjoy it. It has always been a learning experience. I don’t live up to my impossibly high expectations, and of course that sets me up for frustration.

I decided to change my approach to sparring at the dojang I’ve been attending since December of last year.

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When Being One Step Ahead Slows You Down

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As I’ve mentioned in a few blog posts, I’ve been working on the third Dan taekwondo form Pyongwon. It’s a short form, but it’s powerful and grabs your attention, plus it’s really fun to do.

Recently my Master told me I was rushing the snap kick/back kick combination a bit. I was moving so quickly that it looked more like a sparring combination than poomsae. This is the only kicking combination in the form and punctuates the beginning and end phrases, therefore it draws a lot of attention if done incorrectly.

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How Kickboxing Upped My Poomsae (Forms) Game

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In the martial arts world we often tout the practice of forms (poomsae, kata, etc) as a means to hone techniques for self-defense and fighting. But have we ever thought about reversing the practice? How can we use our striking, kicking, and sparring practice to power up our poomsae game?

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Giving More By Taking Back

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“I’m very cautious about who has access to me lately. And it’s not out of arrogance. It’s out of the need to protect my space and energy as I continue to do the work to elevate myself. This chapter requires me to be a little less accessible.”

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Keeping It Fresh…Or, How To Be An Engaging Public Speaker

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Last Friday I was helping a coworker set up for a class he was teaching. It was one we had both taught at least ten times in the past and would teach many more times in the future. Before the class started he was jokingly saying to me and my manager that he was nervous.

You have to understand my coworker–he is larger than life, an incredible presenter, a talented singer, and a Toastmasters competitor. Public speaking is not something new or foreign to him.

“Is it stage fright?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “It’s a good kind of nervous. I always get this way before a class because I don’t want it to be stale. I want it to feel like the first time I’m teaching it for this audience.”
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