Last night was one of the best classes I’ve had in several weeks. I had been a little discouraged lately because classes have consisted mostly of me and little kids, maybe a teenager or two if I’m lucky. Being the only (or one of the only) adults in class for long stretches of time can be discouraging and makes me forget why I signed up in the first place. While I enjoy watching the little ones flop around I get hungry for a challenge and intellectual stimulation. I’ve also been dealing with a slew of grown-up stressors, and it’s been very tempting to tumble down the slippery slope of skipping class.
I’m one of those people who not only needs a kick in the pants to make a drastic change, but I also need a swirly, a wedgie, and to be shoved in a locker and left over night until the janitor finds me the next day. I changed my major several times as an undergrad and each one was punctuated with hysterical sobbing phone calls to my dad during which I declared I wanted to give up on everything. I started my second master’s degree eight months after a devastating breakup. I started taekwondo two months after a string of dating humiliations and failures. Pursuing the MBA and returning to taekwondo were among my top 5 Best Decisions of My Life Thus Far and were decisions made with a mix of both impulsiveness and calculated determination. Decisions, choices, moves, whatever you want to call them, each event dramatically changed the trajectory of my life.
“Yer too purty to be a lah-barrian,” a man at the gym said many years ago (I live in Texas, hence the accent). I was a medical librarian in my past career. No, it does NOT mean I filed people’s medical records. I was a straight-up librarian in a large hospital system, and my main duty was conducting research for the clinical staff. I got to research cancer treatments, surgery, nursing care—if blood and guts were involved I was pulling articles about it. When I found myself thumbing through a dermatology journal while eating a messy hamburger and not gagging I knew I had arrived.
Last night I went to class after being absent for a week. I had spent the past several days focusing on another important aspect of my life that needed attention. It was exhausting and anxiety-ridden and ultimately very beneficial. Focusing so much attention on that aspect of my life, however, made me wonder what the point was of the other areas on my life wheel. Ever since I had too much thinking time on my hands at the last belt test I’ve been in a mini existential crisis. I’ve probably also been under the influence of a bonus mini depression, but that’s just par for the course. Needless to say the last several days I’ve been under a lot of emotional and physical stress.
The Poomsae Series is intended to glean lessons from the meaning of each form. My school studies the palgwe forms so that’s what I will use for each post. Descriptions are taken from the book “Complete Taekwondo Poomsae” by Dr. Kyu Hyung Lee and Dr. Sang H. Kim.
I am crushing on Palgwe Chil Jang. It’s as beautiful as it is forceful and brutal. The form begins with a defiant glare and a powerful double low block. We then weave through a series of meticulously placed blocks, kicks, strikes, and a crazy spinning low block until we gracefully slide back into the starting position with a vicious punch and the same steely glare.
“So…then you’re not a taekwondo person?” my instructor said coldly as he raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. Eric*, a sixteen-year-old black belt who uses his intellect to make sarcastic comments and talk back rather than improve his martial arts skills, was sighing and complaining about a minor injury and was accepting none of my instructor’s encouragement to keep coming to class and doing his best. “You can at least come here with the taekwondo spirit: fall down seven times, get up eight. You need to set a good example for these new green belts.” The two young freshly minted green belts fidgeted in the back, wide eyed and wondering if anyone was going to erupt.
The Poomsae series is intended to glean lessons from the meaning of each form. My school studies the palgwe forms so that’s what I will use for each post. Descriptions are taken from the book “Complete Taekwondo Poomsae” by Dr. Kyu Hyung Lee and Dr. Sang H. Kim.
My favorite yoga teacher often says “Be the change you want to see in the world.” He will sometimes offer a variation on it: “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”