“Well, the majority voted for forms so we’ll do self-defense tonight. If no one wants to work on it that must mean that’s where we need the most help, right?” one of the instructors said cheerfully as we all inwardly groaned. It was Wednesday night, which is reserved for sparring followed by red and black belt class. Most of us in the late class had already attended sparring class and were so exhausted that we were ready for an easy evening of gliding through forms. Instead we would be spending the next hour working on intricate hand-to-hand techniques.
We selected partners and once again I was paired with a quiet, poised young girl whom I had coached during sparring class. She possessed the grace and long limbs of a dancer, an elegant maturity well beyond her years, and here’s the rub—she’s ten years old and already taller than me. We spent the evening working on our hand-to-hand techniques, which she has to learn for her upcoming bo dan test and I will have to repeat for my black belt test. I enjoy working one on one with the kids so I let her twist my wrist over and over until she finally worked up enough aggression to make it effective, meaning it hurt like hell.
“Is everyone worn out? Maybe mentally more than physically? Being frustrated can make you just as tired as working out,” our instructor mused at the end of class. It’s true, self-defense works my brain harder than any other taekwondo technique, and it’s easy to become frustrated when my body won’t do what my mind knows it’s supposed to do. However, I also felt surprisingly refreshed and relaxed at the end of the class. It was as if putting my body and mind through the wringer had squeezed out any residual stress, distractions, or worry.
Sometimes we have to do things that are good for us even though we don’t want to do it. We don’t want to eat our vegetables. We don’t want to practice self-defense. We don’t want to deliver bad news. We don’t want to expose our insecurities. Once we do, however, it doesn’t feel so bad. It’a not as scary or unpleasant as we thought it would be.
I had to do something very difficult yesterday that I had been dreading, but in the end it was what was best for me. I didn’t feel “refreshed and relaxed” after the fact since it was a sad situation, but I knew I had to go through with it. It will help me reach the next level just as I have to keep trying things that are uncomfortable to progress in my taekwondo practice. Perhaps we could even do what we dread with a little more confidence and faith next time.